09 January 2012

The Totally Wrong Philosphy of Reusing

Recycling is the established step for our further ecological development. Even more important though is the philosophy of reusing because while recycling employs energy, time, transportation and fuel, reusing saves all these.

Reusing is not only the act of finding second use for products but also redistributing to people who need them. In contrast to recycling, which recovers materials for processing, reusing recovers the original product. From old metal cans, plastic bags to furniture, books and appliances, there are many ways to find a second life for simple items around your home by reusing them.

The major motivation for reusing though, can be explained with the lack of financial welfare. The level of reusing in the developing world is higher than you can imagine. Rising wages and consumer demand for the convenience of disposable products has made the reuse of low value items such as packaging uneconomic in richer countries, leading to the demise of many reuse programs. Every year hundreds of thousands of tons of useful items in perfect condition are thrown away around the world at an unbelievable cost to taxpayers and businesses. 

Thankfully, the growing environmental awareness is slowly but surely changing attitudes and regulations, and yet there is so much to be achieved!

Image: kanelstrand

What I see as wrong in the philosophy of reusing is the opinion of the voices behind the green movement. After having read interviews and point of views for months I see compliance with the masses instead of true ethical vision, I see the same consumerist approach directed to another field of interest. I am starting to feel greenwashed by those who should be my collaborators.

Pick a green activist, read their blog, read an opinion piece, read an interview - the major appeal that will resonate will inevitably be something along the lines of:
The Earth is our only home.
We don't have a spare planet.

Now let me ask you:
  • What if we had a spare planet? 
  • Would then dumping this one be easier? 
  • Would you carelessly ruin your home because you have a second one? 
If your answer is yes, then you are the same old mainstream consumerist, as far as I am concerned. Stop fooling yourself and put your disposable plastic dishes back to use.

The said approach is plain transferring of the disposable culture's ideas into a philosophy as ethical as keeping the Earth clean. This will lead us only to the point we have already reached and no further.

The point of reusing lies inside, it should be part of your everyday, an approach to life and can be seen in every conscious or subconscious action. But if there are people who try to convince me that you get tired of living a green life, or that it is important to reuse because we don't have a second planet, then the only thing I understand is that if it depends on us, we are going to lose this planet.

Gluttony, vanity, disregard and disrespect are of prime importance to humanity. If we don't deal with them we will never get to honest reducing, reusing or recycling. 

And while we're at it, I dare you to sign the Simple Living Pledge. The challenge starts on February 1st.