Monday, January 3, 2011

Recessional Reduce and Reuse

In October 2009 and April 2010, I blogged about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge floating mass of plastic in the middle of the North Pacific...
Someone asked: why can't "they" just filter it all out? Well (1): it wouldn't be possible to sift out the rubbish without also straining out every single scrap of marine life. (2): where would we put it? (3): as soon as it's taken out, more washes in. No point bailing out the bath until we turn off the taps: better to focus on keeping it out of the ocean in the first place.
The three Rs: it's NOT reading, 'riting, 'rithmatic!We've all seen the three-arrowed green symbol and, for most, it means "recycle." But it's actually three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The least of these is recycle - an expensive and wasteful process. Better to reduce consumption, and reuse what we already have.
The problem is..."the good driver syndrome." Everyone thinks they're a good driver. But if that's so, then who's having all the accidents? In reality, we can all improve our driving.
The same goes for the environment. Everyone thinks they're fairly green: even the guy who changes nothing about his lifestyle but buys some cloth carry-sacks instead of using plastic grocery bags. He bought 'em, even if he forgets to use ' he must be “green”, right?
In an interesting way, "green" behaviour surged with the recession. More people are now trying to reuse items, if only to stretch their dollars further. And yet it was only a few years ago that the burning question was: how much is the public willing to pay for a "green premium" on a product? eg: if you could upgrade to a cell phone manufactured with zero carbon footprint, how much more would you be prepared to pay for it, compared to a conventional one?
Today, if you're serious about being "green", the answer is obvious: don't upgrade. Keep using the phone you've got.

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