Recycle? What Happened to Reduce and Reuse?

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

I remember a time when I was in school — it must have been around fourth or fifth grade — when “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” was the mantra being drilled into our heads. These days, you rarely hear about reduce and reuse, but recycle is more famous than ever.

Reduce, reuse, recycle are in that order for a particular reason. The first step is to reduce your overall consumption of goods, thereby reducing your overall waste. Once you’ve reduced, you should attempt to reuse as much as possible. After something can no longer be reused, then it should be recycled, if possible. But somehow, we’ve skipped past the first two steps and landed squarely on the third. I would argue that reducing and reusing are far more important than recycling. In fact, it’s common sense! If you reduce your intake, then you’ll automatically reduce your output.

If you can, I strongly suggest you watch the episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit that deals with recycling. The main takeaway is that, because of a number of factors, recycling isn’t doing much good (except in the case of aluminum cans). Also, not only is there plenty of landfill space left in the United States, but landfills aren’t leeching poisons into the ground, and they produce methane, which is captured, refined, and used. I don’t think we should give up on recycling just because it’s inefficient; I think we need to figure out how to make it more efficient and more beneficial for the environment.

People also seem to think that being green will cost more money. I don’t know where this idea came from, but the vast majority of carbon-reducing measures I can think of also end up saving money. Pretty soon, I’ll have a list of ten easy, inexpensive, and quick things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

In the meantime, what are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

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6 Comments

  1. I think “green” is the one-word substitute for “reduce, reuse”.

    That being said, I think it would help people focus on actually reducing and reusing if that three-word mantra were still prevalent today. It’s a lot easier to say “I’m green” and do very little than it is to say “I reduce and reuse.” Those words actually mean specific things, whereas “green” is more of a generic catch-all.

    Actually, this argument is nicely analogous to the “Getting Things Done” schema. Yes – you have to list your broad projects (ie. “clean apartment”), but in order to actually accomplish them, you must break them down into smaller, manageable tasks (“clean dishes”, “put dishes away”, “make bed”, “fold laundry”, “dispose of hooker corpse”, etc.). Green is nice, but it must be followed up with individual pledges of progress…like reduce and reuse.

  2. Well said!

    And did the hooker corpse show up on the webcam? I tried to time it right, but he was so heavy!

  3. Tom Dineen

    How does one clean up a dead body in a green way? Considering if your the one cleaining up a dead body, be it a dead hooker or a co-worker that you just couldn’t stand hearing “Does someone have a case of the Mondays?” from any more? I know you can disolve a majority of the bodies tissue with acids, and the stonger the acid the more is disolved, but then the byproduct is still highly corrosive and not what I would call drinking water. My best guess is mulching. If you dry a body and then put it though a mulcher then you might have prettier Azalias come next spring? I think I should stop listening to the Akira Soundtrack, it’s making me a lil… strange?

  4. Corrosives are no good, because they arouse suspicion. Pigs are the best way to dispose of the majority of the body, since they’ll eat nearly anything. Then, whatever bones are left over, will be much more manageable, so you should just be able to bury them somewhere. Just make sure you take the time to bury them deep enough.

  5. Tom Dineen

    Problem with pigs are they aren’t very green themelves, yeah yeah i kno they say there clean animals, but pig arming is no better for the environment nor your arteries than cows or chickens.

  6. Actually, Tom, pigs aren’t clean animals (they have cloven hooves). And depending on what the pigs have been fed, how they’ve been raised, and what part of the pig you eat, they can be much better for both the environment and your body than cows or even chickens.

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