What we're missing in the go-green message

At no point in the past few years have Geneseo students heard more about the importance of going green. With everything from CAS' switch to biodegradable cups to the energy and water-saving contests to the Live Green Day events yesterday, the message is getting out there. The question is whether or not the entirety of the message is being heard and implemented.

The unfortunate truth among Geneseo students, as with most Americans, is that while we are always receptive to the go-green agenda, we often don't want to take the steps that can truly have an impact, because we're too comfortable with the status quo.

What has happened is that the age-old mantra, "reduce, reuse, recycle," has been replaced in our culture by just one: recycle. Millions of Americans and most Geneseo students do, but the fact of the matter is until we also start living by the first two tenets, we can't expect to overcome the massive environmental degradation our planet is subjected to.

Recycling, while generally good for the environment, is limited in the scope of its effectiveness. The materials that get recycled (glass, plastic, etc.) are picked by the recycling companies based not on what's necessarily best for the environment, but rather on the market value of the recycled material. If a company can't make a profit on it, you can bet the glass and plastic you send in the truck or stick in the machine go nowhere but a landfill.

Americans have convinced themselves that by recycling they're doing their part, and are unwilling to sway from their path of rampant consumerism. Planned obsolescence (Google it) implemented by consumer-goods companies when designing their products compounds the problem. Because the amount we buy (and subsequently throw out) each year continues to grow, we can't expect that recycling alone is going to save us from environmental degradation, because it won't.

The message from campus groups and Live Green promote recycling along with conservation and reuse, and is undoubtedly the right approach. But until we truly take to heart the "reduce, reuse" elements of their message, don't expect things to get much greener on the Earth any time soon.

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