Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Sounds good, but dump contents reveal this is not happening enough

Oct 4 09:39 2008 Kim Thornton Print This Article

We live in a throw-away society. Excess waste and consumption. What can we do about it? Small steps taken by individuals can make a difference. Indeed, that is the main message of this article. We must each do our own small part to minimize this waste in our lives. Leading by example shows our friends and family members that change is possible. In fact, not only is change possible... it's absolutely
necessary for the future of our planet.

We live in a throw-away society.We're wasteful. Not just on an individual level,Guest Posting but on a global scale as well. Our lifestyle is not sustainable in terms of the world's resources we consume.The subject of unnecessary waste in our society came sharply into focus for my wife and me over the last couple of years due to numerous trips to take garbage to the county dump.When we were renovating our cabin we regularly took construction scrap to the dump (along with our wet garbage). We began to notice a considerable number of perfectly good items that had been thrown out. After seeing this for some time (and rescuing numerous perfectly good items along the way), we started to ask,"What can we do about it?"We started changing our lifestyle to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Although we may think we can't make a difference individually, small steps taken on an individual level can and do make a difference. We must each do our own small part to minimize the waste and excess consumption in our society. Change is possible... indeed, it's absolutely necessary.One of the most challenging aspects of taking steps in this direction is the constant bombardment from the media... the non-stop stream of powerful advertising attempting to convince us that we need the latest and greatest gadgets, toys, electronics, cars, and on and on. It's a powerful and extremely effective influence. And it seems that, unfortunately, a lot of people are too lazy and/or simply don't think about the fact that something that they are throwing away could be used and appreciated by someone else. Nor do they think about the landfill being taken up by perfectly good and useful items.Our dump experience spawned the idea of a series of short video vignettes that would highlight this sad situation. Although the topic is serious, we wanted to have a little fun with it in order to highlight the number of perfectly good items that were being thrown into the dump every week. Thus was born "Adventures with Fitzgerald the Dump Truck". The episodes can be seen on the home page.What can you do?Are you concerned about unnecessary consumerism and the corresponding waste? If so consider taking some of the following steps:Turn offBreak free of commercials by limiting your exposure to them... and if you have children, this is even more important. Setting the right example becomes paramount in teaching the next generation that it is not necessary to have the newest, most recent model of everything! Teach them that happiness does not come from a store! We don't expose ourselves to the onslaught of commercial messages. We rarely watch TV, we listen to public (commercial-free) radio, and have a limited number of subscriptions to magazines that come to the house. Consequently we are blissfully unaware of so much of the product marketing and thus are not even tempted to rush out to buy this or that "must have" gizmo. We don't have a TV at our country lodge, so when the grandchildren visit, they are not even tempted to watch... it just isn't part of the "lodge experience".Take a critical lookWhat are you throwing away? Get in the habit of looking critically at all of your household waste. Is it really garbage? Can it be used by someone else? Can you compost your wet garbage? Are you recycling everything that is possible to recycle? We have two or three charities that call us regularly to ask if we have any donations they can pick up. Some of them let us know we can call them any time for an additional pickup of clothing and household items. Check for charities that offer this service in your area.Taking this simple step would see items such as stuffed toys (we've seen full boxes of perfectly good ones at the dump - some brand new with the tags still on),  other toys, bikes, folding chairs, lamps, tables, furniture, and much more, put to good use.Episode one of the "Fitzgerald" series highlights many of the items that we rescued from the dump. Other episodes show many perfectly good items that had been thrown away, but which we personally didn't take.Challenge each otherFamilies can get together and set up challenges to minimize waste. At the office, organize a waste awareness day. Get your boss involved... or if you are the boss, you set the tone. Even neighborhoods can activate to increase awareness.These are just a few suggestions to start the creative juices flowing. Each one of us must start taking individual responsibility to reduce the resource footprint on our fragile planet. Reducing our personal waste by limiting thoughtless consumerism, and through reuse and recycling are important actions we can all take.

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Kim Thornton
Kim Thornton

Kim Thornton is the co-creator and webmaster for two sites: and

Both sites are based on Kim's passions... rustic/lodge living and living a heart healthy lifestyle.

Kim writes on both of these and related topics.

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