by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
The more you reuse the less goes into the waste stream which, more often than not, means into the landfill, or has to be broken up in the so-called recycling process to make new products. Products often specially designed and created to make use of so-called recyclables.
Recycling is not the savior that it is being made out to be and when you have to consign something to the trash can or the recycling bin you have already lost.
While recycling may not require as much in the way of energy and raw materials quite a bit, especially in way of energy, is still needed and with regards to recycling of plastics often a large amount – more then 50percent – of virgin polymer is required. In most cases 100% recycled plastic does not work.
Reuse and upcycling is really the only way to go and there is much that first of all does not have to be tossed and secondly there is much of so-called waste that can, with a little imagination, be reused and repurposed and upcycled.
Our parents and especially our grandparents and their parents were veritable masters in this reuse game and if they could think of a use and reuse for something there was just no way that it would end up in the trash.
This is not to say that our ancestors never threw anything into the trash. They sure did but only when it really was no longer of any use and could n o longer be repaired or when they had no further way of reusing something. After all, you can only use that many glass jars, or tins, or what-have-you.
On top of their tendency to reuse almost anything that just remotely could be given another life a different system was in place in those days too as far as drinks bottles, for instance, were concerned.
Whether those bottles were of glass or earthenware they would go back to be refilled and beer for drinking at home could and would be bought at the Pub in reusable/refillable earthenware jugs. Grocery and market shopping was done with a reusable shopping bag or two and most stuff was bought either loose, wrapped in paper, in paper bags, or filled into containers that one brought along. That cut down on packaging waste and that that there was was put to another use.
While, for the present, we may have no option but to buy things in often over-packaged covering at least let's put our mind to it as to a reuse for everything that can be given a second life, whether by direct reuse or upcycling, and let's thus starve both the trash can and the recycling bin.