I don’t recycle, because I think in the grand scheme of things it’s pointless.
Environmentalists have this propaganda that goes, “Reuse. Renew. Recycle.” Maybe recycling will eventually catch on and have some impact on the amount of plastic, paper, and aluminum that’s thrown away, but even if it reduces the waste of those resources by 99%, what I would still worry about is the Sun, that bright ball in the sky that keeps our planet alive and is also the basis for environmentally-friendly energy sources like wind and solar power.
The Sun has a life span of several billion years, but it’s constantly burning. Physics says that, like every other star, it will eventually transform into a different type of star that can no longer support life on Earth, and still later it will become something that is cold, dark, and dead.
While it’s true that won’t happen until we too are all dead, that is the same argument that some people use to justify destroying our planet’s environment. People ask why we should worry about things like fossil fuels being exhausted or all the trees being cut down if we know we’ll be dead by the time those situations become real problems. The environmentalist answer is that it’s our duty to provide a world for future generations, but even if the human race were able to survive another trillion years, there would eventually be a future generation that would face extinction.
Of course, maybe by that time we’ll have interstellar space travel, and we’ll be able to use it to find another sun and another planet. That’s fine, but there may be a limited number of suns in the universe.
But maybe we’ll also have the technology to punch a hole in the fabric of space-time and travel to a different universe. That’s fine, but there may be a limited number of universes.
Maybe this is beginning to sound ridiculous because this would be so far into the future (trillions of years) that it seems pointless to even think about it, and that’s exactly my point. I question why the length of time is relevant at all. If the human race dies 1,000,000,000,000 years from now, 100 years from now, or even 10 years from now, I don’t see how it makes a difference in terms of the meaning and purpose of life. Death is still death. It’s not how or when you die but how you live that matters.
I’m not saying the universe is destined to die and is therefore doomed. While physicists do have some theories that spell doom for all of reality, I don’t believe they really have any idea what mysteries are out there. For all we know, the whole universe is a giant cycle that’s so long that we simply lost track of the last time it repeated. If that’s the case, we have nothing to worry about. During the next cycle, all the fossil fuels, trees, aluminum, and even all the suns will eventually return. It will be like a new Eden (to make a metaphorical Biblical reference). It seems logical that the universe would work this way, since it’s the way life on Earth seems to work for the most part. Everything is born, lives, dies, and then the cycle repeats again with rebirth.
So, since the entire universe is probably going to eventually recycle itself and us along with it, I personally don’t see any point in stressing myself out trying to recycle little bits of it. I want to use disposable plastic bottles and disposable plastic bags, and I want to throw away lots of paper that came from lots of cut-down trees. I want to have a party and enjoy myself while I’m waiting to be recycled.
But I’ll end with this caveat. The one part of environmentalism I do agree with is the part about decreasing the level of poison in our air, food, and water. Actually, no poison at all would be nice. It really creeps me out to think about the random chance of developing a debilitating disease if you live in the wrong part of the country or if you eat too much of the wrong type of food. That’s no way to live. While you may still have a fighting chance of living without plastic, paper, and electricity, you can’t have much of a life if you can’t think straight, if your body doesn’t function right, or if you are in constant pain because you ingested some toxins that were the byproduct of some careless industrial process.
(I’m not going to delve into the toxins produced by the manufacturing of plastic and paper specifically. Those were just examples to make the larger point.)