Recycle Smarter Than A Third Grader!

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! All right? Maybe — maybe not, says scholar Daniel K. Benjamin. Making an unused tissue out of a used one wastes resources and hardly benefits the environment. Melting and casting aluminum cans, though, both saves resources and benefits the environment. But you don’t need to exhort the aluminum company to save those resources: saving scraps is in its own interest. So why does it take a lesson from your third-grade teacher to get you to recycle household waste?


For more insightful work by Daniel K. Benjamin, check out his page on the Property and Environmentalism Research Center’s website


  1. rolfe

    Recycling has never been a big part of my life so it’s good stuff to know for a beginning recycler like myself.

  2. GeF

    don’t consume unrecyclable

  3. RastaJoe

    Is it just me, or was recycling never really that hard?

  4. juliansfree

    Recycling might not be a good choice in the big scheme of things!

  5. Dabriel Graham

    Laying out all that stuff by the street might sound nice, but wouldn’t that test be skewed by local government incentives to recycle?

  6. Anonymous

    My town publishes what it gets paid to recycle garbage.  That is a market indicator of how valuable the various recyclables are.  The highly unusual thing is the town also decided that things that did not pay enough (to cover the material management costs of managing the material to get recycled), it does not recycle those items.


    Because of proper selection of items, informing the public of the direct economic benefits of recycling, and an efficient waste-stream management system, our town actually made a profit in the garbage business – and it does not charge fees for special bags, or transfer station stickers, or collection trucks or anything.


    Now that is the market at work.

  7. kevinbuttrum

    Most Cites through everything out but certain glass, paper, cardboard, and metals. 

  8. chochiptulip

    I live in Europe. While I was studying in Greece I recycled for the first time. In time it became a habit to separate waste from recycled materials. After 2-3 years I went to the UK for vacation at a friend’s house and I found out that you are supposed to clean a can of tomato paste or a glass bottle of juice.

    I was shocked! The rubbish wouldn’t go if the people that came to get them didn’t see a good percentage of recycled materials next to the rubbish! How motivating!

    I came back to Greece and started doing that, but when I finished my studies and came back to my country there were not many recycling locations and obviously not strict enough regulations. So it’s been 2 years for me to recycle! I feel bad and I try reusing many things I buy, or finding different usage of a material but I know it’s not good enough.

  9. Joshua Wheat

    Interesting video! Spot-on with the “third grade teacher” point. I never realized how much energy was used in recycling tissue.

  10. bosthegreat

    One thing that I never hear about is recycling energy. Almost all home air conditioners are half as efficient as they should be. A heat exchanger right after the compressor could heat domestic hot water that would otherwise need to be heated using energy from another heat source. The equipment needed on the air conditioner is less than $200. Then the plumbing into the existing water lines would need to be added. A cheap solution would be less than $50. If you wanted to add a tank to pre-heat the water before the existing water heater then you would need a tank and they are not that cheap. But this is hardly ever done. Why not? Air conditioners work not by cooling the air but by moving the heat from inside the house to outside the house. If all it is doing is moving heat then why not move it to a place where it can be used?

  11. bosthegreat

    I just looked up circulation pumps. I was a little low with my $50. But even at $100, adding $300 initial cost to the air conditioner install would practically double the efficiency of the air conditioner. 

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