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New York Times Letter on Recycling

In this March 29th, 2004, letter in the New York Times I argued that we Americans recycle more than is typically supposed:

To the Editor:

In ”Back to Recycling” (editorial, March 23), you say that before some policy changes, New Yorkers were ”coming around” to recycling, and that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg should now persuade them ”to get back on the wagon.”

But why focus on items, like old newspapers, that are only marginally recyclable? New Yorkers avidly recycle when it is worthwhile do to so. Every day they wash and reuse their dinner dishes. Ditto for their clothing. When they buy a new car, they sell the used one rather than trash it. Ditto their condos, co-ops or houses. And New York City continues to boast the world’s finest stores for selling and buying used books.

Recycling is more common than you think.

Fairfax, Va., March 23, 2004
The writer is chairman of the economics department at George Mason University.