i think the push for recycling in the last 10 years or so has virtually eclipsed recycling’s old pals, reduce and reuse. that’s a fucking shame since they’re both better than recycling. there was a reason the old phrase that was hammered into us so long ago was reduce, reuse, recycle — it was in order of importance, best to worst.
but now the phrase seems to have been simplified to just ‘recycle.’ no one hardly says shit about reducing and reusing anymore. i have a few theories why.
- reducing and reusing kills jobs. they both mean the sale of less goods, which is bad news for big business bottom lines, and for jobs. at least with recycling, people can still be shopping addicts but they can do it guilt-free since recycling is ‘green,’ or at least greener than throwing an ipad in the landfill — so you can be green and still support bloated, wasteful consumer industries! hoo-ray! BULLSHIT. so i think big business probably had a hand in downplaying reducing and reusing.
- people are addicted to stuff. we love to buy things. it feels good to bring something home, unwrap it, put it in its new place in the house, and stare at it with a sense of satisfaction. i think everyone revels in that. but it’s a hollow, empty satisfaction. it passes within moments. it means nothing yet it drives the vast majority of us to purchase all kinds of useless, extraneous fucking shit. the excitement and satisfaction of acquiring crap is like the crack of the average consumer. so reducing how much we allow ourselves to acquire is a real battle against our natural desires.
- people think reusing is gross. i wash all of our ziploc bags and reuse them until they get holes in them. i’ve had a lot of our friends tell me how gross that is but i think islands of plastic in our oceans being eaten by sea life which we in turn eat is far grosser. same with buying used furniture, used clothing, used cars — lots of people think it’s dirty, like they’re going to catch something from that stuff. sure, some used stuff is gross. so don’t get that stuff. use some common fucking sense and find the used stuff that is still good and not gross. fuck me, it’s not rocket science.
- recycling is easier than reducing or reusing. reducing and reusing require less energy and create far less waste than recycling but they require changing bigger habits, and are more work. people have to wash their ziploc bags out; they have to search a little bit to find a good used couch; they have to get in the habit of turning lights out when they leave a room; they have to get used to the idea that maybe they don’t need a newer, bigger TV/vehicle/fridge/house every few years. no one is eager to make those changes in their lives because those things aren’t fun.
well, here’s the thing. reducing and reusing sure aren’t fun. and they take more work than recycling or just chucking shit in the dump. but if anyone gives two shits about the world around them, the world their kids and friend’s kids will inherit, they should think twice before contributing to an already enormous mess that those kids will be left to deal with.
an analogy: if you had a beautiful park or forest or beach, would you toss a bunch of garbage there before giving it to your kids?