Recycling: The great get out

Recyclability is feeding consumption

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The very fact that so many products can, now, be recycled is, paradoxically, feeding consumption.

Buying recyclable and recycled has become the “in thing” and is giving people a false sense of making a sustainable choice.

The truth, however, is that tossing a recyclable product out when replacing it with a new one is almost as unsustainable as the way it was before.

Now products may be recyclable, that is to say they can be broken up into their components and then the bits recycled, but they have a factored in obsolescence still of three years or less.

That factored in obsolescence, in itself, is causing our problems and recyclability is changing not one iota here.

Recyclability is, in fact, now fueling consumption as people think that it does not mater if they toss their laptop, smartphone, or what-have-you, out after less than a year because they want to upgrade. “What's the problem”, they say. “It can be recycled”.

This is not sustainable for for every new item more resources and energy must be used and expended and still more energy to recycle the old ones. Are we actually so stupid? I am afraid to say it would appear so.

We must return to the ways of old when products were made to last and then, if they did “break”, could be repaired by more or less simple means.

If we look at products such as, say radios, and such, which were made in the GDR (so-called Communist East Germany) before the Wall “fell”, or the Soviet Union, and which still work today then we must conclude that there was something that seems to have worked in the planned economy. Things were designed and made to last.

Our so-called free market economy nowadays is designed only to benefit and profit the producers and not the user and definitely not the Planet.

Recyclability, as can be seen, is not going to cut it in the sustainability scale; only a return to goods that are made to last and that are repairable will do that.

© 2013