Thursday, August 6, 2009
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
I'm glad people are recycling, but what about the two steps before "recycle?" I find them to be arguably more valid, simple, and worthy steps, too, but they don't get near the press time their famous, or perhaps now infamous, sibling Recycle has gotten. (Did you know it's been dubbed a "craze?" Yeah, really.)
Don't get me wrong, it's encouraging to see good things like recycling and organics become in vogue. Finally old fads like large SUVs and super-homes are becoming ugly with the label "excessive," said with upturned noses by those who once yearned to possess. Our country is socially catching up with the rest of the world, which is neat to watch. Hey look guys! Our resources are finite! Hmm.. Let's recycle!
But what about steps one and two? Why so hasty to fix the problem by jumping to three? Reduce your consumption; why not? It's cheaper, like reducing the amount of packaging you contract (makes it sound like a disease, eh?) Like using a cloth shopping bag or buying the two liter bottle of Coke instead of a six pack of plastic bottles you defensively validate by saying, "Well I'll recycle them." My engineer grandfather has created a system of his own, and I have a feeling it's more a personal thing (ie financial) than about our environment. Once upon a time, he bought a six pack of club soda in their lovely uniform glass bottles. He drank them, washed them, and saved them. Now he buys the large bottle of club soda. Since he lives alone and can't finish the large bottle by himself before the contents becomes flat, he pours the soda from the large bottle into the six little bottles and refrigerates them to drink at his leisure. It's practical, efficient, and smart. Well done Papa.
Which brings us straight to the elusive step two: reuse what you already have. Novel, I know. What happened to the Tupperware craze of the fifties? We all remember that handy invention, so why did we switch to plastic ziplock bags? Since we (seemingly) all have dishwashers now, it would be a cinch to clean and reuse those dirty tuppies we all know and love. Can we also lean on nostalgia a little for the lunch box our mom's used to pack for us and stop sending our kids to school one brown paper bag after the other? (Or even use them ourselves?) And it's cheaper! We like cheaper!
Man oh man, what a world! What a great world! We have so much and we're even starting to like each other and look around to see what's goin' on. Sweet. It's a great day to be alive, with ideas and colors and lots of smiles and such. So grab that reusable shopping bag and go buy some local strawberries! Heck, take a bike ride there and high five your next door neighbor on the way. Don't fret about recycling so much, because there are two easy steps that can leave you with very little to recycle in the end anyway! Wahoo! Freedom to make choices! And good ones at that! :)