Too many reports and studies, not enough thinking

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Be it the governments or organizations such as FoE reports and studies seem to be in the forefront and it is, when it comes to resources, always recycling that is being highlighted.

However, we must begin further down the field for recycling is the last resort in waste and resource management. When we have to go down that route we have already lost (the plot).

Reuse and repurposing is the stepchild time and again when anyone seem to look at the issue of waste and resource management. Why? Because reuse and recycling does not bring in any money for the recyclers, councils and other interested parties, that's why. Recycling in the form of recyclables that can be sold does.

Reuse, however, and repurposing and upcycling has, after waste reduction, to be our first priority and reuse of glass bottles and glass jars must become policy again of companies and governments alike.

Glass bottles and -jars do not, unless broken, belong into the recycling stream but in the reuse stream, like it used to be, and still is in many countries as far as glass bottles are concerned.

Until such option is available where you and I live, however, we must reuse and repurpose them. Why buy a reusable water bottle when you Snapple glass bottle or similar will do the same job for free. And while glass is breakable it is the only taste neutral material as far as drinks carriers are concerned making it, thus, still the best choice for reusable water bottles, etc. But why buy when you can repurpose one or two or even three.

Waste paper and card is another one of those issues as regards recycling. First of all much of the paper that is collected for recycling is, in fact, destined for the landfill as it is ink jet printed which tends to be water soluble ink which contaminated the paper pulp.

On the other hand waste paper can be used much better for other purposes than making “new” paper. Shredded for animal bedding, especially good cross-cut shredded for hens; single side printed for hand-made notebooks; notelets; and waste card from packaging, if blank on the other side, for the making of index cards, business cards, notebook covers, and much more.

Sure there are waste products that cannot be reused, repurposed and upcycled easily and they will have to go the other route, such as batteries and other electronic products, metals, etc., but there are many that can be made use of directly through reuse and such. Those include pallets and other wooden crates and boxes, though all too often they are tossed out as well.

Despite the fact that recycling is being so very much promoted, to the detriment of waste reduction and reuse, much of the recyclables that are collected do, in fact, end up in the landfill, and that for several reasons.

One being that, despite the fact the items are being collected, there is not “market” for those recyclables and two that some things cannot be recycled in some areas.

Often the curbside collections are no more than a fig leaf where municipalities pretend to be green but behind the scenes the things are just dumped as they used to be, in landfill. Or, if we are lucky, incinerated.

It does not matter how many reports are being written. People must learn to think for themselves again and reduce waste in another way and one of those ways is to reuse and repurpose everything possible that comes our way.

This is the only way that we will succeed in this endeavor. Not by means of “official” recycling and recycling targets that are just a whitewash, or should we say, greenwash.

© 2013