A few of my feelings about re-use

I have never liked waste.

I remember thinking, in my high school physics class, that the Second Law of Thermodynamics was one of the more depressing things that I had ever heard.

On a more directly human level, what about farmers with government-subsidized crops who get paid to grow more 'Item X' than they can sell, while others go hungry? What about the food that restaurants throw away at the end of the day, that homeless people might like to eat?

My feeling is, why should I contribute to waste unnecessarily? Enough things are thrown away as it is. This is why I go to some lengths to recycle.

There are also other ways to re-use things. I often use broken, scratched or otherwise not-up-to-snuff electronic and computer parts as teaching aids in my classes. I know people who grew up making children's puppets out of old socks. Some corporations donate their computers to schools when they upgrade to newer models. Et cetera.

Not only that, but work by Dr. William L. Rathje, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Arizona, suggests that U.S. landfills are not doing a good job of allowing our daily tons of trash to decompose and be reabsorbed into the earth. I do not want to add to these piles any faster than I absolutely have to. So if someone can get more use out of my stuff before eventually it is discarded, so much the better.

If you want to hear more on this subject, here are two ideas among many. You can read Ecotopia, a work of fiction that touches on many issues around avoiding waste and maintaining sustainable growth. (I am not saying that author Ernest Callenbach has all the answers, but it is a provocative place to start.)

Or you can visit OSPIRG; they have several different articles and links that discuss waste and benign vs. malign interactions with the environment (although occasionally they can be a bit extremist for my personal taste).

(Last updated 4/30/02004)