Stuff you used to throw away is now embedded in religious ritual. Children are taught the three Rs but it has nothing to do with Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic. Instead it is Reduce, Re-Use, and Re-Cycle. Those 3R's make a certain amount of sense but expect to be shunned and shamed if you don't spend unpaid hours every month kowtowing to the blue box and the compost pail, the organics bin and the paper and cardboard bins and the plastic & glass recycle bins, and a separate place if there is a deposit for the container, and the special drop off for styrofoams and another one for paints. Perhaps you drop off your empty plastic bags and tetrapaks at the grocery store, too. Are you running containers through the dishwasher with hot water. They're supposed to be clean! Drive a $20,000 car to the recycle depot with paint and old TVs. Instead of being preoccupied with pee and poo, folks are fixated on the arsehole of society and everything that was cast out formerly must now be retained and played with. Clearly cost is nothing and ritual all. Cost is how the market gives us a clue about what is wise behaviour and what is foolish. Did I mention that your time is free? You don't get minimum wage, you don't get a dime a day for your trouble, just a sense of virtue and escape from those who carp at your failings. The politicians and rent seekers price in the paid workers but your reward is just virtue, a religious good. The recycling movement is a net cost to society and everyone is poorer. Good judgement will always find things to reduce and others to re-use and still others to recycle but the priests of garbage want it all.
The entire waste of North America for the next hundred years could fit into a cubic mile of land fill in the desert. If I had been born about fifty years later, a few years from now I'd be bidding for landfill sites to make my first billion dollars sorting them with high tech at a single site. They are gold mines. Money and officialdom gave us rules that make garbage nearly illegal. The costs of cleaning it, sorting it, washing it and blessing it with new credentials has soared. This should be redirected to challenge the market to find a way to make a buck transforming garbage into dirt and oil and copper and feed-stocks and fuel without relying on unpaid labour from you and me.
The recycle bins at our condo have a restrictive sticker saying what can go in them. Now the sticker has a sticker over top of the first one with even more restrictive nonsensical rules. No more lids. Only clean containers. Give me a gigantic break. Bring back something big I can throw stuff into and charge me so much a month for the deal. YOU fix it up. I don't expect to compost my body waste before flushing the toilet and I don't expect to redeem my garbage before I hand it over to someone expert and efficient at handling it.