‚Stop Recycling‘ might sound a bit dramatic, however, when you rethink the whole process of recycling you will realize that this cannot be the only solution as to how we handle our waste. The keyword is consumption. We are consuming every day; we are using our precious resources as if there’s no tomorrow. And honestly, nobody really cares. The problem has not to do with the world’s growing population; it’s rather that our consumption is increasing. We, the consumers of the Western countries, are responsible for this consumption.
However, recycling is a current issue that people speak highly of. Of course I have to admit that recycling has its benefits – it creates jobs and we use the already processed materials over and over again. Recycling is important. Nevertheless, there are so many ways to save our natural resources. Perhaps we are not as dependent on recycling as we think we are.
But what can we do to fight against recycling?
First – Reduce
As simple as it sounds – reduce consumption. Just ask yourself: Do you really need some new trousers when you already have six pairs at home? If you know that one pair of jeans takes 1100 litres of water to grow enough cotton, you might think twice about it.
What about considering second-hand clothing? Or going to the flea-market to buy whatever you need? I bet you are going to find some little used treasures out there which are unique and so much better than the new and mass produced stuff. Additionally you are putting money into your community and connecting with other people.
What about investing in sustainable furniture? We know that cheaply made “throw-away” furniture made of particle board (yes, the ones you can buy at IKEA) is tempting to buy. It’s not too expensive and why spend more on furniture than you have to? Well, what is good for your pocket is mostly not good for the environment. If we buy junk, we know while purchasing that we will throw it away soon. It is better to buy used if possible or to look for solid and robust stuff. Shifting to sustainable purchases could move mountains in our consumer behaviour. We need to rethink.
Second – Reuse
Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy. The product must be fabricated and then transported to wherever it will be sold. Anything that is intended for single use must be avoided. Thinking reusable is easier than you might think. Here are some examples:
Packaging: Items such as egg cartons can be donated to schools and nurseries, where they can be used for making crafts.
Rechargeable Batteries: These can be reused many times before they need to be thrown away.
Read used books: So many trees die just so that we can read. There are lots of wonderful movements going on around the world which opens so many opportunities. For instance, ever heard of book crossing where you can share your books and connect to fellow bookworms?
Or what about the open book cases where you can borrow a book for free 24/7? Amazing, isn’t it? And I bet that there are many more opportunities to find used books.
Plastic bottles: There are so many different ways to reuse them. Take a look at this video which shows you what’s possible:
You see, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways to save our natural resources, protect our environment and to save money.
Third – Recycle (only if you must)
If you spend more time doing the First and Second steps of this blog post, the less we have to recycle. Together we can make a difference when we stop recycling things we don’t actually need. For example when you drink out of a stainless steel water bottle you don’t have to recycle the plastic bottle.
Imagine if everyone would do this, how much plastic would be no longer re-melded (less toxic chemicals in our air!) reformed and re-distributed? And as a plus point: How much money would you save if you invested one single time in a quality bottle instead of buying a new plastic bottle every time? I guess it’s a lot. So before you recycle your next plastic bottle think twice about the effect it has on the world, on the environment and on the next generation which has to live with the waste we are creating right now.
Do you already have a list of things you can refill or reuse? I am more than happy when you share your ideas with me and fellow readers. We can make a difference when we get out of the recycling circle because rethinking is the new recycling!