Disposable

My father would be turning over in his grave if he could see the waste we are creating in the world.  He was a recycler long before it became the in thing to do.  A 2×4 had to be used in at least 3 projects before being discarded and even then it would provide heat in our woodstove.  If the toaster was broken, he would fix it and the same went for everything in the house.

Growing up I remember a friend’s father dismantled houses for a living.  He would take them apart piece by piece, and sell the lumber, windows, and miscellaneous materials.  The house he built from recycled materials in the early 1950’s looks every bit as good as the new homes on the block today.  These materials would not be allowed in homes today because they did not have the grading stamp on them but are far superior to what is going into the houses today! The waste today of bringing in a large machine and crushing the house only to take it to the landfill is disturbing to me.

Today we have toasters, coffeemakers, kettles, and electronics that are not repairable, they are throwaways.  There used to be small appliance repair shops, but they have vanished.  Nearly everything you buy is encased in plastic that gets discarded.  Not only a waste but a frequent cause of frustration and cut hands trying to extract the product from the Blister package. (aptly named!)

There was a big push a few years ago to move to LED Christmas lights.  Yes, they conserve energy, but LED’s do burn out and, unlike regular bulbs, are not replaceable so you have to dispose of the string and buy another.  No one will tell you the environmental cost of production and disposal of these.  I had the old lights for 20 years and would replace maybe 1 or 2 bulbs a year.  I have however, replaced many of our regular household lights with LED’s and they are great.

We have built an industry getting rid of things that never should have been produced in the first place.  Over-packaging is rampant and is getting worse.  I don’t know what the answer is but something needs to be done.  Is it taxation against companies that over-package?  Can there be a consumer movement that will refuse to buy over-packaged goods?  Can retailers step up to the plate and refuse to stock over-packaged products?

I am as much to blame as anyone as I shop for convenience and don’t take the time to source products that are environmentally friendly.  The only time I give it thought is when I have to load the pickup with the plastic for the recycling depot.  Maybe the change can start with me!

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