Thursday, March 13, 2014

Extreme Recycling

 Here's an example of recycling I'm going to really ponder. Since my city's recycling program is pretty great - I especially applaud the huge yard waste containers that pick up pretty much anything from small branches to vegetable peelings - there's usually just a small amount of trash coming from our four person household. But could we do more? Do I have the time, the space, the do-it personality to get us to an even lower-impact lifestyle? Lots of our household items come from the thrift store. We do tend to invest in high-quality larger appliances, which use less energy and are
more efficient, and that makes sense. I reuse packaging materials for my Etsy business, so that cuts down on our output as well. When I work on a major house project, one of the first issues we decide is what will happen with the stuff that the homeowner isn't going to keep. Most people have a mindboggling array of useless paper clogging up their systems; sometimes it's broken small appliances, or clothing that's beyond use. There's no reason to send real garbage to the thrift - I was a sorter years ago at the St. Vincent de Paul, I can tell you a lot about what happens to your donated stuff. I have to gently explain that for the most part they just toss it in landfill if it's not clean or immediately useful. They simply do not have the resources to handle it more than to put it on a hanger and tag it. Likely, if your tshirt is stained or holey, it's either going in the landfill or being baled for sale as rags to make rugs in Mexico (if it's lucky). Most households simply do not need more than one bag of rags, either.

I try to think of ways we can get the most recycle value out of truly broken or obsolete things. I'm not saying we should all have hippie-style planters made from cottage cheese containers, but it's possible that some of our beloved objects could see a reuse rather than just sit around neglected. For example, say you like your grandma's gravy boat but you don't eat gravy: *that* could make a cool planter, and so much more personal than the dull plastic containers houseplants come in or the overpriced pottery they sell you to dress them up. Too many decorative objects gathering dust make a place cluttered and dysfunctional. Can you combine items to make something useful? Could you trade for an object you really like that would make more sense in your home? Could you sell the ones you aren't sentimental about and start yourself the savings account you said you'd get after you broke even?

Now there's a thought...

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