Recycling not saving trees

When you’re about to recycle that paper, think about throwing it away first. You may actually save a tree.

Recycling feels good. It’s a simple way to help the environment. When many people recycle paper, they feel as if they have helped keep a tree from being cut down.

But does recycling actually save trees? The answer is not as cut and dry as many people think.

Steven Landsburg, Slate columnist and professor of economics at the University of Rochester in New York, said that recycling can actually reduce the number of trees in the environment. This fact is based on basic supply and demand principles. If the demand for new paper decreases, fewer new trees are planted and results in fewer trees on earth.

We eat a lot of potatoes in America, does that mean that we should start a “save the potatoes” campaign and recycle every scrap of potato that we have? No, because potato suppliers meet demand and plant more potatoes. The same goes for trees. It may also come as a surprise to know there are now more trees in North America than there have been in the last century.

People also say that recycling will help trees in the shrinking Amazon.

Unfortunately though, that is also untrue.

The Amazon is shrinking because indigenous farmers are trying to cultivate the land in order to feed their families. It is not because of the logging companies, but rather the implementation of old farming techniques such as slash and burn.

All over campus, teachers are trying to “go green” by not printing out syllabi and various other papers their students need. Teachers who choose to make things more convenient are condemned by the very students they are trying to help.

From a young age we are all taught to recycle because it “saves the trees” and will make a “better future” for our children. But, if you look at the facts, you will see the truth.

Everyone wants to help preserve resources and save the world, but we need to stop and think about whether our actions are actually making a difference or if they are just a waste of time and energy.