Why is reuse regarded so badly?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

All we hear and read, and I know I do keep going on about it, is recycle and how we must do more of it and then still some more.

Reuse, on the other hand, barely ever seems to get a mention and a looking in and is treated like a stepchild; nay worse.

Why can't packaging be designed with reuse in mind?

A great majority of people nowadays do not seem to have the right amount of imagination (any more) in order to come up with all the possible reuse ideas and thus it would be good to have such ideas printed on the package, whether it is a carton, a plastic bottle, or what have you.

As there is often more than one way to reuse something successfully a different reuse idea could be used every now and then. This would also give people then, after a while, a whole armory of reuse ideas.

Cereal cartons could be printed on the inside with templates and instructions of how to make them, for instance, into envelope, cardboard wallets, etc. Children probably would like some toys to make, and such, or masks, etc., with a minimum of cutting involved.

Reuse ideas for plastic bottled are quite a number but reusing them as bottles for beverages, even water, is NOT an option because of the possibility of BPA and other nasties leaching out.

It is for that reason that the reuse of PET bottles as drinking bottles is not recommended and even actively discouraged.

Plastic bottles that are made from other materials, such as LDPE, LDPP, etc., do not, it would appear, suffer from the same issues and thus the reuse for water and other cold drinks might be an option.

Reuse is an option for so many items of packaging (waste) including the 1-ton-bags, the so-called builders' bags, for raised bed planters in which to grow food.

Pallets are another lot of packaging waste today.

Years ago pallets, like builders' bags, would go back to be reused but now they are destined for the landfill or, if we are lucky, they are made into wood fuel pellets.

But a great deal can be made with them and from them by direct reuse or by upcycling and I tend to try to amass quite a few of them whenever I can.

They are used as fences, as gates and also the wood is being used to make a number of things and the next project for them is the making of a new coopp for my hens.

Big and small things can be reused in one way or the other but we seem to have – the great majority of us at least – in the developed world – lost the will to do it and the power of imagination as to what to do reuse this or that item of waste for.

The rather classic examples are the tin can and the glass jar. People will go to the shops and buy a 'recycled steel' pencil bin when the tin can that they have just tossed into the recycling bin would have been able to do the same job for nothing. And the same is the case with the people tossing glass jars and them going out buying 'recycled glass' storage jars and are feeling extremely green for doing that.

The problem is that we have been so heavily brainwashed into consumption and recycling that nothing else seems to get through, especially as the mantra of the “3Rs” seems to have gone from “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” to “Recycle, Recycle, Recycle”. It, at least, appears to be the way that it is being perceived by most. All thy think about is buy new and recycle the old.

Time to unconsume and to look at reuse again in a serious way...

© 2011