Vail Daily column: The ‘costs’ of recycling |

Vail Daily column: The ‘costs’ of recycling

Richard Carnes
My View
Richard Carnes

We used to call them ‘paper drives.’

Just the phrase today would probably make most think of a computer hard drive of some sort, a super-thin flash drive or something along those lines.

But back at North Dallas Preston Hollow Elementary, it meant a culmination of weeks, and in many cases months, of collecting neighborhood newspapers.

The ‘paper drive’ concluded in a single day at school, where we spent most of the day jumping up and down in the back of huge dump trucks while parents and other kids would pull up their car, pop the trunk, and then toss loose bundles of newspaper for us to ‘catch’ and spread around the truck bed.

You could call it “Recycling — 1972 style.”

In the big picture it meant little, cost virtually nothing and the best part was we missed a day of classes.

Like the solar industry, recycling has taken a very long time to travel a very short distance, but the present results, along with the long-term goals, are still positive.

This past week, after four years of study, the Town of Vail passed a mandatory recycling ordinance, and thanks to a 9News report the boo-birds came out of the interweb woodwork shouting, “Ritzy Vail forcing recycling on tourists!”

Sigh … media hyperbole strikes again.

They imply the local government is now holding a gun to the head of each visitor, making sure they put the correct type of trash in the correct container, even in their hotel room, or else face steep fines (which they can all afford, duh) or worse, have their ski pass pulled for the day and their dinner reservations at Elway’s canceled.

Oh, the horror.


Anyway, I am sure some think it’s just more government intrusion into their private lives, and a few others will even blame that black man in the White House, but let me ask you, “When was the last time you didn’t wear a seat belt?”

Thirty years ago, although common sense, wearing one was not conventional wisdom. Yes, some of us were too ignorant to protect ourselves (myself included), but government mandates helped reshape our collective consciousness, and now only a few remaining bozo’s arrogantly refuse. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved in the meantime, while the rest are simply Darwinism at its finest.

Either way, just because I drive a plug-in electric car and have had solar panels on my house for 16 years, it doesn’t mean I am a ‘greenie’ or a recycling fanatic. Hell, it just means I think both are pretty cool. But I have now been in the habit for decades to put cans and bottles and such in separate containers from regular trash.

Just like most of you.

It’s not a big hassle, and even though certainly not the most cost efficient way to deal with waste, to misquote Donald Trump, “It ain’t always about the money.”

While “paper drives” may be a thing of the past (You’re probably reading this online, right?), reusing finite resources to the best of our ability will always trump running out of said resources.

Our children’s children will thank us. (In hindsight, of course, as we won’t be around to hear it, but you get the point.)

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a weekly column. He can be reached at

Support Local Journalism