Comparison of Recycling and Wellness Movements

The Wellness movement has many similarities to its environmental brethren the recycling program as it tries to become a regular part of our society?  Let’s take a look at the rise of the recycling movement.

Reduce - Reuse - Recycle

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle

For many of today’s generation, they have grown up with sorting materials into multiple recycling bins (or one bin now in Seattle) such that it is part of their daily routine. However, it has been a long road to get to this juncture.   Recycling actually predates to ancient times – before the era of mass production.  It was easier and cheaper to reuse products than to buy new ones.  As the industrial age started to take shape, Sweden enacted the first container deposits back in 1884.  When times were bountiful, such as the early 1900’s, recycling took a back seat.  The depression and WWII precipitated the need to recycle due to shortages of certain materials (also it became a point of patriotism).  After the war ended and there was an abundance of natural resources again, the need to recycle declined and it became less of a priority.  The modern recycling movement took root in the 1960’s and 1970’s with the establishment of the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Earth Day, and the rise of the energy crisis.  The movement continued to gain traction over time as many cities mandate recycling today, but it is still not utilized in every corner of the US like it should be.

When it came to persuading individuals to embrace recycling, they faced resistance from their fellow community members.  Some of the arguments against recycling included:

  • It’s too hard to remember what gets recycled and what to throw out
  • Requires sorting of materials (Pemco has a great ad depicting the over zealous re-cycler in the NW)
  • Large need for constant supply of recycle materials to keep recyclers in business
  • Products are not designed for recycling (need sustainable design)
  • Difficult to determine true energy and costs saved through recycle programs

Now, Wellness is not a new concept as its roots can be traced back hundreds of years as well.  Eastern philosophies utilized natural remedies to treat the sick and keep individuals healthy.  It is only in the last 100 years with the rise of modern food production methods,  corporate greed, and shifts in the sociological habits with less daily activity and more sedentary habits have we seen an increase in the number of diseases that were not present in centuries past. While the Wellness movement is gaining momentum, it is facing the same uphill battle for widespread acceptance across our society as recycling encountered.  Just like the energy crisis of the 1970’s, the health care industry is facing a financial crisis which is creating the need for change in how we manage our health.  Many of the reasons given for not embracing wellness on a daily basis mirror the problems with embracing recycling.

  • Finding excuses why its too difficult to eat healthy or too busy to find time to exercise more
  • Difficulty in cutting through noise to determine what claims are true or not
  • Insurers need a constant supply of healthy individuals to pay for those that are sick.
  • Difficulty in determining return on investment
  • Government assistance through legislation needed to help market services

Just like recycling, Wellness is something everyone in society should embrace.  One – its the right thing to do for ourselves, our family, and our community.  Two – it creates an inner sense of pride and accomplishment.  Eating healthy food should be just as reflexive as recycling that daily newspaper.  Hopefully, we can learn from the path paved by the recycling movement to embrace the wellness movement sooner than later.

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