Reuse creates more jobs than does recycling – fact

Another reason why I love reuse: it creates lots of jobs, from small to big

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Once upon a time, and yes, it is nearly like a fairy tale, there were people – it sounds outlandish, I know – that could repair your shoes and boots, including doing all the sewing new; there were people that could fit almost any electrical appliance (some people even did it themselves); they could fix your car without much on tools; etc. but today we are almost out of them.

If you read the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW often enough and my articles (and books) then you will know that I rate reuse much higher than recycling and the fact is that reuse will and does also create many more jobs than recycling can and will ever do.

Reuse is the recovery of materials and products for the same or a similar end use, and it offers triple bottom line benefits. Reuse decreases energy consumption, saves the embodied energy of manufactured goods, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, conserves natural and man-made resources, provides quality products to those with limited means, offers businesses and individuals with tax benefits, and supplies sales taxes which contribute to the economy.

Reuse is also a job creation leader, that is, when you manage 10,000 tons of materials, incinerating creates 1 job; landfilling creates 6 jobs; recycling it creates 36 jobs; and reuse of these same materials can create 28-296 jobs (source: US EPA, Institute for Local Self Reliance).

So as we have noted before, practice the 7Rs: reuse, rot (compost), repurpose, repair, return, refill, refuse (to purchase over-packaged, disposable, single-use junk) and last but not least, recycle, and reuse must be the first or, if not the first then at least the second after refuse.

But, in order for reuse and continued use to work products must be redesigned and re-engineered in such a way that they can actually be repaired and too many good and products nowadays are, in fact, designed to be thrown away after a lifespan of about two to three years. Built-in obsolescence this is, and it is not right.

We must demand that an end is put to this built-in obsolescence and that products are made – once again – in such a way that they can be fixed and ideally by the user even and we mo longer had “no user serviceable parts inside” notices and screws than cannot be removed to gain access to the inside of whatever it might be.

On top of that, obviously, we need the trained repairmen and also the manuals that might make it possible for most users to repair their things. If you can't fix it you don't own it is the understand amongst some of us as to products and it is more like that every day.

While I can, theoretically, fix a desktop/tower PC I cannot do it with a laptop or a netbook; they are just too small and complicated. I can also fix my bicycles, more than many others seem to be capable of doing, and I can also sew textiles and leather. Skill like that and others is what we must invest in ourselves so that we can take true possession of our goods.

© 2011