Remember what Mr Miyagi said about balance?
Mr. Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Mr. Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?
–The Karate Kid (1984)
Life is all about balance.
Perfect balance is what you find in the exact middle of the spectrum, in between one extreme and another.
Between work and play.
This lesson about balance can inform us why recycling might not be the best solution to our environmental woes.
Is recycling actually a bad idea?
The environmentalist will say that recycling is good for the environment. You reuse resources such as paper and that means that less trees will get cut down.
On the other hand, the office that hasn’t gone green and isn’t recycling is wasting resources.
S. Landsberg says that if you recycle too much paper, trees won’t get chopped down, and forests will shrink.
“Environmentalists can quote reams of statistics on the importance of trees and then jump to the conclusion that recycling paper is a good idea. But the opposite conclusion makes equal sense. I am sure that if we found a way to recycle beef, the population of cattle would go down, not up. If you want ranchers to keep a lot of cattle, you should eat a lot of beef. Recycling paper eliminates the incentive for paper companies to plant more trees and can cause forests to shrink. If you want large forests, your best strategy might be to use paper as wastefully as possible-or lobby for subsidies to the logging industry.”
Following the logic of the above statement, if everybody was an environmentalist, we’d all go green and that would be a problem.
Conversely, if everybody wasted paper, that would also be a problem.
It looks like there has to be a balance between recycling paper and wasting paper.
In actuality, the ongoing tension between environmentalists and anti-environmentalists is wherein the nugget of wisdom lies.
Paper conservers are the yin to the yang of paper wasters.
Without either side passionately fighting for their ideology – there would be no balance.
What pesticides can teach us about balance
Turns out that pesticides can have harmful effects on our health.
But if we were to stop using pesticides on fruit, for example, then there’d be less fruit for people to eat which would also be bad for our health.
Landsberg credits this observation to biologist Bruce Ames:
“Environmentalists call on us to ban carcinogenic pesticides. They choose to overlook the consequence that when pesticides are banned, fruits and vegetables become more expensive, people eat fewer of them, and cancer rate consequently rise.”
You have to strike a fine balance between using pesticides and refraining from using them.
If you’re really bothered about pesticides on food, going organic is a great option. No point cutting corners on the food you eat to fuel your most precious asset – your body.
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