Recycling: a Moral Imperative or an Economic Opportunity?

It's a moderately well-known fact that China has been buying up America's recyclable waste for decades. What's less well known is that recently...

It's a moderately well-known fact that China has been buying up America's recyclable waste for decades. What's less well known is that recently it's basically stopped, or at least significantly stalled. Environmentalists are bemoaning the sudden recycling slow-down as a definitive lapse in China's global environmental responsibility. But as Adam Minter of the blog Shanghai Scrap thoughtfully points out, they shouldn't be. Why?The answer is that despite the pang of guilt we feel every time we throw a glass bottle in the trash instead of a blue recycling bin, in most parts of the world, recycling is a business opportunity. And like a lot of other industries right now, business is bad. So while we may still be generating more trash than we could possibly hope to fit in our overcrowded landfills, the fact that we're generally consuming less means that there is less global demand for raw materials, and therefore less need for countries like China to comb through our crap in search of them.That we in the developed world view recycling as a moral responsibility with tangible environmental benefits is astounding, a PR effort whose success is on par with DeBeers and the global obsession with diamonds. And that's a good thing (the recycling bit, not the diamond-craving)-we'll never achieve any sort of long term environmental stability without fundamentally incorporating the principle of reuse into our lives. But it's also unique. Other countries are primarily in this game for the money, and the money is bad right now. Our entire recycling effort is predicated on the fact that someone, somewhere, finds it valuable-nay, profitable-to sift through our waste in search of raw material. When that stops being true, it's cause for alarm.Thanks, Jaime. Photo by Flickr user Kees & Sarah.
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Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

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