Why are we responsible for the packaging manufacturers choose?

Doesn’t our recycling system seem bizarre? Consumers buy things from manufacturers and then it’s the consumer’s responsibility for the product and it’s packaging from that moment after. There’s actually a social pressure on the consumer to handle the product and packaging in an environmental way, to recycle it. Then, local governments are pressured, through good intentions, to have recycling programs to reduce waste. This is generally how I see things working with our recycling system.

Think about the expectations here. Manufacturers produce most of the single-use land fill destined products and packaging. But, the people who buy these products are expected to be the ones to recycle. Isn’t that strange? Shouldn’t the problem be fixed at the source? Any other solution focusing on individual effects isn’t scalable. Is it more effective to remove the machine gun from the hands of a shooter than it is to dodge bullets? Wouldn’t it work better if the manufacturers had an economic/ecological sense of this waste they are responsible for and designed for reuse? Or, wouldn’t it be better if manufacturers were forced to be ecological? Wouldn’t it be better this way?

As a consumer, I see I’ve got a few choices with the current setup.

  • Not buying things: hard to do, but people are trying this.
  • Only choose products with a design for multiple-use.
  • Another is I can focus on stripping products and packages apart for recycling.
  • Combining those three above is a fourth option and what I do now.
  • I could not care and just let it pile up; however, I see the effects of manufacturer’s already making those choices. I don’t like it. It’s ugly and hazardous.
  • I could try to influence legislation so that it’s illegal to operate in a way that’s single-use. That would be hard, but sometimes the best answers are hard. I do want this.

Is there a better answer?

I imagine a response to this being “Let business run free. Don’t stop a free market. It will regulate itself.” I bet it will regulate itself…over time. Everything is regulated over time. However, while I’m alive and while my children are and their children are, I want to focus on the joys in life and not recycling. Overall, my answer to that is a question. Should you let a business have practices that are detrimental? We don’t allow lead in toys for example. It’s detrimental. Maybe someone might say trash is not detrimental. I’d argue that it is. Think about how much city governments have to pay for garbage and landfill space. We pay for that in our taxes. My conclusion here is that I draw a connection between single-use landfill destined products and a destruction of beauty (who thinks landfill creates beauty?) and a reduction of my income. I pay more taxes because of single-use products. I think everyone else who pays taxes has the same effect in place whether they know it or not. I spend time thinking about an unnecessary problem which has become necessary to think about instead of having more reflective time with my family, work, etc. I could choose to not care, but this single-use crap is making work for me and costing me money. Let’s kick it in the pants so we focus on cool stuff like creating a nation of innovators for the betterment of mankind (creating opportunities for our children to succeed…education damn it!) and colonizing the moon…something interesting and that benefits people.

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