Public awareness and participation in recycling efforts are on the rise and becoming mainstream in most parts of the country. However, we feel that there are flaws in the concept.
Do not get me wrong. Redirecting material from landfills and converting raw materials for a new use is fine. But it is only a reaction to a real problem whose solution is not an easy choice for most to make.
Firstly, recycling requires a great deal of energy. From the washing of the cans and bottles in your kitchen to the hauling by your sanitation company, to the sorting and shipping to the remanufacturer, to the energy required to reprocess the "trash" into a new item or raw material.
And probably most importantly, it functions to help mainstream society feel good about their wasteful, consumer lifestyle. Simply put, people are too lazy to do what it takes to solve the problem. Recycling makes us all feel better about this. Just so you know, yes we recycle . . . religiously.
So what are the alternatives to recycling?
- Don't buy junk you don't need.
- Buy used . . . garage sales, Nickel Ads, Craig's List, eBay, thrift shops are all great choices for making "new" purchases.
- Really evaluate the purchases you make and don't buy items that are more packaging than they are product. Take the time to write, phone or email the manufacturer so they know that you do not approve of their packaging..
- Carry your own canvas bags to the market.
- Buy locally produced foods (try farmer's markets or join a local CSA farm).
- Repurpose and Reuse!
What do I mean by reuse? It was not long ago in our collective past that our society was not a disposable one. Food at restaurants was served on plate and not out of plastic clamshells and paper bags. People repaired things instead of tossing them and buying another. New uses were found for old items.
This was done more for economic reasons but still, it was common sense. And it still is. Not only would people save more of their hard earned income, they would be making less of a personal impact on our planet.
We have always been this way. We save everything that we believe has a potential use later. People that advocate getting rid of things if you have not used them it a year, phooey! Packrats unite!
Here are some specific ideas for reusing items as related to gardening:
Various plastic food containers. We use these for years before they become brittle.
We use them for tasks such as the processing and fermenting of tomato seeds and
Restaurant or deli clamshell containers are great miniature seed starting greenhouses.
Even if you don't eat at fast food places, many people you know probably do. Put the word out and have people save them for you.
This mini-greenhouse is the commercial equivalent of the reused seed starting solutions above.
They are made of a plastic material that will offer years of service. However, the free alternative noted above function in exactly the same.