Broken Clouds 45° Good Afternoon
Broken Clouds 45° Good Afternoon

Letter: Recycling’s costs, benefits

Employees sort paper at the Green Stream recycling

Employees sort paper at the Green Stream recycling facility in Brookhaven. Photo Credit: Newsday / Sam Guzik

In the opinion piece “Recycling not as cheap as you think” [Opinion, Jan. 4], writer William F. Shughart II wants us to believe that much recycling is a waste of time and money. He writes that recycling a ton of paper or aluminum cans can save about 3 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over producing those materials anew. That sounds good to me!

Unfortunately, it isn’t profitable to recycle. Shughart states that because oil is cheap now, it’s less expensive to make new plastic than to recycle. What a sorry excuse to be wasteful!

Shughart does not address the most important words of what he calls the “mantra”: Reduce and reuse. Stop buying stuff that needs to be discarded or recycled in the first place! Buy one drink holder and put tap water in it. Re-use your plastic bags or get canvas ones. Share your newspapers or read online. Hang up the laundry. Use energy-efficient appliances and fuel-saving cars.

If we have to work hard to reverse pollution, as stewards of the Earth, it’s the least we can do.

Ann Rita Darcy, Huntington Station


The comments presented by William F. Shughart II seemed difficult to justify until I read that he is a member of his university’s school of business. From the business point of view, all decisions must be based on money and cost effectiveness; profit is the imperative and the quicker and greater the gain, the better for that business.

All that any thoughtful person has to do to question that point of view is to take a historical look at what numerous and deadly environmental problems have been caused by that “maximize profit” mantra.

Shughart writes that the costs of recycling are seldom equaled by the benefits, but that is because in this country, we have never included the true costs to the environment of resource extraction. Business has been allowed to avoid those costs. However, every one of us is forced to pay for them, now and in the future, as they are transformed into the environmental problems caused by slash-and-burn extraction and thoughtless waste dumping.

Shughart states that there is plenty of space available for landfills; would he be willing to live near one? He seems to have conveniently forgotten what those same landfills have done to many of our precious aquifers. This is a finite Earth, and the sooner we make the processes that are necessary to keep it habitable “cost effective,” the better we will all be.

Jim Jones, Bayville

Editor’s note: The writer is a board member of the Volunteers for Wildlife, Locust Valley.


Thank you for your educational opinion piece on recycling by William F. Shughart II.

The bottom line is production. Why do the companies overproduce and thrust their items on gullible customers, sometimes offering them discounts for buying twice what they need?

Also, companies and organizations should be taxed heavily for the amount of junk mail they produce!

Sharada Jayagopal

East Williston