The Economics of Recycling: A Child Could Understand
By Bryan Caplan
When I read to my kids, I rarely editorialize. I figure that if they want my opinion, they’ll ask. But when we read Where Does the Garbage Go? this morning, I had to speak up.
As you could guess, the book shamelessly propagandizes for recycling, without even suggesting that there are also good reasons not to recycle. Or, as one of the great one-liners of economics goes: “Recycling is the philosophy that everything is worth saving except your time.” (Who originally said that? It won’t google).
I found it surprisingly easy to explain this idea to my four-year-olds. Yes, separating newspapers saves paper. But it costs time. Why don’t we recycle in our house? Because our time is worth more than a pile of newspaper.
Even if you’re a four-year-old.
Update: Here’s a great piece on recycling by Don Boudreaux.