Waste has to stop

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

All waste has to stop and we are the only ones that can do this. We can stop waste and starve the trashcan.

While it is true that we will never be able to eliminate all waste, and that aside from human waste; not even our ancestors of old managed to do that, much of it can be eliminated, especially food waste and packaging waste.

The former we can tackle by learning to cook from scratch and to make use of any leftovers and the second by reusing, repurposing and upcycling as much of it as possible, in the way that our forebears did, whether on the farm or not.

In addition to that we, as consumers, have the power to demand that the manufacturers reduce packaging and also that packaging be designed in such a way that it can have a second or even third life. The Japanese can teach us a thing or two about that.

They package goods more often than not – or at least they did – in boxes, and whatever else, that are purposely intended for reuse.

But even in the West similar things were happening not so long ago, but seem to have gone with the wind no. Nutella used to have its spread in glass jars that were designed to be used after as drinking glasses as did the makers of a number of brands of French mustard and also Kuehne, a German mustard producer, did the same. So why does it seem to be so difficult now, not more than two or three decades after?

Wen it comes to glass jars for packaging our forefathers and -mothers reused each and every one, until they no longer had a use for them. A glass jar is what? A glass and they can be used for drinking out amongst other things. So, let's not waste them. After all you pay for them when you buy the product contained therein.

It seems, however, so alien to many of our contemporaries today to do that. They rather go out and buy a pencil bin for $7 (made from recycled steel) than to use a tin can, destined for the recycling bin, for the same purpose.

And the same goes for glass storage jars. People spend $15 or more on recycled glass storage jars, thinking they do the green thing, while tossing some large glass jars, from products they bought, into the recycling bin.

Aside from the fact that this is waste of resources it is also a waste of money. As I said, you paid for that glass jar or the tin can or the cookie tin; so reuse it.

But we have come so far from the source, so to speak, that now some cookie tins, whether metal or plastic, have printed on them the fact that they can be reused and also for what purpose. Maybe, in fact, we need such instructions printed on the labels and such like in order for people to understand that the trip to the trashcan or the recycling bin is not necessary and should only be the last resort.

Packaging waste is our biggest problem, aside from food waste, and both can be overcome.

As far as packaging waste is concerned we have to reuse, repurpose and upcycle as much as possible of it, as said already, by using our mind. And, in addition, we must demand redesign of it and a reduction of it and also return to lose products, as once was the case. We, as consumers, have the power to make this happen by demanding it and the same goes for products that can be repaired. Let's do it. Let's reduce waste by all means possible.

© 2013