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What could be insane about recycling? Well, it is that many people talk about how great recycling is, yet ignore how much energy and resources it takes. It also seems that they tend to forget about reusable items.

Why is it that we have forgotten about reusable items? It used to be that milk came in glass bottles and those bottles were returned, cleaned and reused, instead of melting them down and remaking them each time.

While recycling is good, why can't we reduce the packaging so that we don't need to recycle as much? It seems like many products come with more packaging than product. It would also be possible to make shipping containers which are reusuable.

Items today are basically disposible. It is hard, not to mention expensive, to get items repaired. Most items don't seem to be made to last very long. Maybe that is in part to that this society is more interesting in getting new items, rather than having items which work for a long time. People seem to get tired of an item and want a new and improved item instead.

Consider the resources needed for people to get a new vehicle every few years. This is a prime example of recycling rather than reusing. It seems that more and more that new vehicles are not made to last, no doubt because people want cheaper vehicles so that they can keep replacing them. I guess I just have a different view. To me I would rather to keep the vehicle I have, than to buy a new one. There are many custom things, such a better stereo, better horn, fog lights, etc., I have done to my vehicles and I would rather not have to do it all over again. It takes some time for me to get a vehicle to the way that I like it, like a pair of comfortable shoes. I guess part of it is that I don't feel the need to try to impress people by having a new vehicle.

Recently there is talk about charging people for plastic bags. Part of the claim is the trash cleanup that it causes as those bags can really fly in the wind. In part it is an effort to create a new tax to get money out of people, so they include paperbags to prevent people from changing from plastic to paper to avoid the tax. The government really hates people who try to get out of their plans to tax people. While I think that the tax is bad, I think that the goal, however misguided the means, is a good one. We should work to reduce the trash that we create. Often the paper and plastic bags are used just once, yet are still good and could be used many times.

For several years I have stopped having stores put the things that I buy in a paper or plastic bag. The reason is not to reduce the trash though. It is because the bags are still usable so I don't throw them away and instead end up with a collection. Often I would never use them, so the solution to me is to never get them so I don't have to keep and store them. I have a couple of canvas bags from Trader Joe's that a got a couple of years ago and more recently I have started using those at other stores. I found that Ralph's grocery store gives you a credit of $0.05 per bag that you don't use. Quite nice, especially since I don't want the bag to begin with. I also found that using the canvas shopping bags to be quite useful at places like CostCo and Sam's Club. Perhaps some people have to fill up their carts there, but I don't. I use the bags to replace the shopping cart, when I know that I am not going to buy much, which also helps to keep me from buying too much. That way I don't have to deal with a shopping cart throughout the store. That makes it much easier to get around.

While it is somewhat of an effort to remember to bring the bag, if you keep the bag in the car then you will typically have it. I put it on the front door knob after emptying it so that I will remember to bring it back to the car. Even if I forget to bring it into the store I will refuse a bag as this helps to remember to bring it the next time, plus it is in the car so I can put everything in the bag when I get to the car. Part of the reason for this is to avoid the bag collection too.

If everyone were to use reusable bags, the amount of trash created would be reduced. Perhaps some would not want to because they are lazy, but it is far easier to use a bag that you know won't break than the disposible bags which most people have had break at some point in time. Rather than taxing people, convince people to use reusable items as that is much better than recycling the bags. This is just the first step in getting away from our current disposible society.



Index for Insanity, Inc.

Written: 05-Dec-2004

Updated: 03-Feb-2005

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