The best way to lighten our footprint is to consume less. Then the next best way is to find ways to use the stuff to its full potential. Finally, lets use our waste to regenerate the environment.
Every dollar we spend has the power to influence what the producers create. And how we limit, convert, or use our waste has the power to influence our environment. Let’s use this power for good.
Mindful consumption has three stages. Firstly, there’s the respect and awareness of the waste generated throughout the total life of the product. Secondly, there’s the search for ways to use the materials to their full potential. Then thirdly, we find ways to reclaim the materials to regenerate the environment.
To buy or not to buy! That is the basic question. Above all refuse everything that cannot be recycled. And, if you get a choice, choose materials that cost less energy to produce and cost less energy to recycle. For instance, both wood and metal biodegrade. But wood costs less to create and is less dangerous as it degrades.
The Consumer Trap
As consumers we’re trapped in an ongoing cycle where resources are taken from the earth They are manufactured as cheaply as possible. Then we like it. But soon forsake it for the next big thing. But we need to resist everything that is harmful.
Every day, waste washes up on tiny island beaches and it’s often from another country. The truth is we don’t know the real cost of our waste. Nylon is one of the biggest pollutants in city harbours. The Nano plastics, tiny plastics, can get into our skin and bloodstream. Next time you buy underwear, check the material. Plastic based materials include nylon and elastin whereas natural fibers include cotton and wool. And when you go to throw out the old underpants that are made of natural fibers you can put them into the worm farm.
It’s a good idea to know the true cost of the manufacture the mining, the wearing or using, and the disposal of a product. The true cost of the mining of materials includes the loss of habitat, loss of carbon into the atmosphere, loss of soil to absorb water, and polluted streams and rivers. And mining often occurs in remote areas in communities of vulnerable people. And in countries of poor governance. As a consumer, do we want support the abuse of vulnerable communities?
Why Throw That All Away?
In the consumer trap we take make like and forsake. That’s pretty much blind consumption. Alternatively, it would be great to live with purposeful consumption where we accept stuff that we can determine its reuse. Then we protect it by maintaining it maybe even improve it by restoring it or retrofitting it. Later, when we don’t need it anymore, we let someone else have it. Ghandi said “Live simply so others may simply live”. Cutting harmful consumption lets all beings can live better.
Exploring the R’s
Reusing something doesn’t change the product or its function. Whereas, repurposing it gives it a totally different function. For instance, we can reuse a jar to store leftovers then as the jar gets old and scratched we can reuse it for seed raising or a potted plant. A fun reuse of a product is to redistribute it. To share it. Sharing spreads goodwill. Think about the full cost of hoarding. Do you desire a home for stuff or a home for people?
Reuse, Repurpose and Redistribute
Repair, Retrofit , Remodel and Restore
Things usually break because we are using them. This means they have value to us and our part of our lives. And having an attitude to repair things helps us to deal with mistakes and failures better than this some repairs can make the items stronger or more beautiful patchwork and invisible mending turns a piece of clothing into a walking artwork. There are repair cafes all around the world they bring people together the knowledge keepers feel valued and the consumer discovers how to fix things.
Now let’s have a look at restoration. Nature is that it is forever optimistic life doesn’t give up it pushes through and it demands to find a way. Nature will colonize a building with mold and plants and it will slowly turn the building back into soil. Maintaining things saves energy saves resources and it honours our heritage.
Redesign and Regenerate
We can place things at random or we can consider their use and their interaction and integrate them in the example on the left where there’s random placement of things the car or the van is a pollution source to the pond it’s a threat to the chickens and the falling fruit is a bit of a menace if it’s near the pathway whereas in the designed placement the palm tree shades the van the van doesn’t pollute the pond because there’s a filtering garden between and the fallen fruit goes directly to the chickens beyond converting waste into new products or finding more efficient connections.
There are many ways to use waste to regenerate the environment. The simplest regenerative act is to save seed and grow it into a new plant. And a hedge is a regenerative substitute for the rusting metal fence.
Turn Waste into Wealth
Food waste becomes fertilizer. Grey water benefits gardens. And restored homes, antiques and vintage clothing can turn a profit.
In summary, we reduce waste by refusing non-recyclables, resisting hazardous materials and sharing items. Then we explore the many ways to get full use out of things. This includes reusing, repurposing, retrofitting, repairing, remodelling and restoring. Ultimately, the best avoidance of waste lies in the redesign of the items so that they are easily deconstructed and responsibly repurposed and recycled. Finally, we redesign our lifestyles so we use things more efficiently.
Next time you buy something: choose the product that is made with biological resources. Because nature works for free seven days a week and it doesn’t need any help from us to recycle.
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