Recycling is a good thing to do. It makes people feel good to do it. The thing I want to emphasize is the vast difference between recycling for the purpose of feeling good and recycling for the purpose of solving the trash problem.
Because the global ecosystem is a connected whole, in which nothing can be gained or lost and which is not subject to over-all improvement, anything extracted from it by human effort must be replaced. Payment of this price cannot be avoided; it can only be delayed. The present environmental crisis is a warning that we have delayed nearly too long.
Despite the dazzling successes of modern technology and the unprecedented power of modern military systems, they suffer from a common and catastrophic fault. While providing us with a bountiful supply of food, with great industrial plants, with high-speed transportation, and with military weapons of unprecedented power, they threaten our very survival.
Perhaps the simplest example is a synthetic plastic, which unlike natural materials, is not degraded by biological decay. It therefore persists as rubbish or is burned-in both cases causing pollution. In the same way, a substance such as DDT or lead, which plays no role in the chemistry of life and interferes with the actions of substances that do, is bound to cause ecological damage if sufficiently concentrated.