Starting October 1, putting plastic bottles in a landfill will be verboten in North Carolina.

It’s about time. Earlier laws banned aluminum cans, tires, and large appliances. Now bottles join the forbidden list. An article in the News & Observer says the state wants to increase its rate of recycling from 1.3 million tons of bottles, cans, and other recyclables to 2.0 million tons by 2012.

The value of recycling is such an obvious no-brainer that the number of people, businesses, and institutions that don’t practice it is simply astounding. When I walk out of a classroom at Campbell and see bottles or cans clogging up an ordinary trash can, I can’t stand it. Often I’ll grab a handful from the can and carry them to student lounge, where our divinity school students and staff are trying to set an example for the rest of the university.

There’s just no good reason — other than absolute laziness and disregard for the earth — not to recycle. When I roll our garbage can out to the curb each week, it often contains considerably less than the recycling containers I lug out to put beside it. It takes only seconds to put cardboard, newspapers, cans and bottles into the recycling bin instead of the trash — and that little act not only reduces the space required in landfills, but increases job opportunities in the recycling industry.

We don’t have to worry about a member of the trash patrol coming to arrest us if we continue mixing recyclables with the regular garbage: like many forms of admirable behavior, this is an area where we need to police ourselves.

It could be an arresting adventure.

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