Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...and Repair
In less than a decade, the quantity of objects that we own has been multiplied by ten. A family of four used to own approximately 150 to 200 objects. Now, that same family can own up to 3,000! This also means an incredible increase in the amount of trash produced, which has doubled in the last 40 years. Humans generate approximately 2½ pounds of trash per day. It is quite expensive to manage such a large quantity of waste and recycling, and the environmental impact is monstrous. We must start focusing on how to reduce our waste instead of trying to figure out what to do with it once it has been created.
City governments are responsible for providing waste management services in their communities including the collection, transportation, sorting, and treatment of it. Since it is so expensive to run, treatment facilities are often used multiple communities at once, which means that each individual mayor has less voice on the process. The mayor does however have an important role to play by distributing information throughout their community and being a proponent of the creation of businesses that focus on repairing and recycling waste.
Repairing and reusing much of our waste is definitely possible. For starters, electronics and appliances can be collected and treated accordingly. They can be disassembled, repaired, and tested by paid employees, and in time put back into circulation as a functioning product. This process is supervised by qualified technicians.
As for actually reducing what goes into the garbage, some municipalities have already set up a form of a waste weighing device in the garbage truck that collects trash. This has had a very positive impact, at times reducing people’s waste as much as 25%. Another way to target the problem at the source is to advertise associations and stores that sell repaired merchandise or used goods. This way, less new products are put on the market, and what could have been thrown out as garbage gets a second life.
The best way to reduce our garbage is not only to buy used, but to also think before purchasing. Ask yourself if you truly need the item you are thinking of buying, or if you could easily borrow it from someone else for the time being. After all, there are so many things that we don’t actually need in our lives, and there are many others that can be lent or borrowed from a neighbor, a friend, or relative.
If we set up recycling and repairing systems in our cities, this will also have a positive economic impact because it will create local jobs. It will also help reduce everyone’s tax bill in the long run.
How can you help with initiating this sort of project in your community? First, you can speak to your friends, family, and co-workers. Spreading the information through word-of-mouth is a good start. You can also contact your mayor’s office to tell them you care about such projects.
And remember, the best trash is the one we never created.
Photo credit: flickr.com