According to many accounts, the world’s recycling system is broken. We had been led to believe that plastics, metals, paper, clothing and so on are being recycled into the supply chain of industry. While there are some honest efforts by a few corporations, much of what we put into recycle bins goes directly into landfills. Another large share of our recyclable waste is shipped overseas to developing nations for them to deal with. Much of that material is dumped into their landfills or otherwise pollutes their lands and cities.
There are many things people can do to alleviate many of the problems associated with waste. One can avoid purchasing single use plastic and other non-biodegradable products and packaging. One can rethink whether or not to purchase “fast fashion” garments. We can also be more careful about purchasing and discarding in general.
Possibly the best remedy is reuse–extending the usefulness of things. Before discarding or storing items, we can give them another look. Can we realistically use the items or can we find a sensible way to repurpose them in our homes? Today’s unofficial holiday “Another Look Unlimited Day” is all about this idea.
My mom grew up during the Great Depression. She was told to use what she already owned: make it do; wear it out; or do without. Even though we might not be in an economic depression, this advice is solid at its core. Most of us own many good quality, essential items. We can utilize them until they wear out or until they are no longer needed. The items can be sold or given away to others. If they are worn out, they can be mindfully discarded. If they are worn out or damaged, do not donate them to thrift stores–such items are only discarded and will end up in landfills anyway.
When mom cast her eye upon an object she considered discarding, she asked herself two questions: Can I still use this? Will I still use this? If the answers to both questions were “yes”, then she kept the item and used it. This is a good rule of thumb for anyone. I try to use it, too.
During today’s unofficial holiday, we can take a few moments to consider taking another look at the things we’re considering discarding or donating. Can they be used? If not, then thoughtful donation, mindful recycling, or discarding are in order.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes educator and journalist, Richard Heinberg. “It is possible to point to hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of imaginative, courageous programs to reduce, recycle, and reuse – yet the overall trajectory of industrial civilization remains relatively unchanged.”