27 March 2014

We should value our stuff

I am not anti-plastic. I understand that in some aspects of society it does play an important part. I have mentioned it here.

But I am anti waste and against the misuse of plastic.

Plastic is constantly being created and falls into our lives in so many different forms. Some of it is beneficial but a lot of the plastic produced is not. Saying NO to the unnecessary plastic that comes in the form of packaging, plastic straws, cutlery, and all those other items that populate consumer shelves is the most effective method to send a message up the chain that this thoughtless plastic production needs to stop. How you spend your money is like a vote. The less you spend on plastic the less will (hopefully) be made. This is how we, as a group of individuals, can make an impact; avoid it to show we don't need it. I am proud member of this group and hope one day everyone will be too.

Waste goes beyond pointless plastic pieces. It is the general mistreatment of our resources.

I went to the Queen Victoria Night Market with my own container in hand. I asked for a food vendor to put the food in there as I have been doing at places around work and street festivals. I was met with weird looks but they were happy to serve my request. As I waited for the food one of the waiters asked me why I do this and why I could not be happy with the biodegradable takeaway packaging the food already comes in. He said it in a tone that implied I should be happy with that. I explained that the resources used to make the packaging for single use, whether it breaks down completely or not, is wasteful in my eyes. I told him that I had been reusing this container for 8 months to collect take away at food markets like this. You could tell I valued this container.

Those biodegradable takeaway boxes add to the already huge layer of waste that goes to our landfill. The man agreed that my point was valid and more people should bring their own container.

I believe that if we placed more value on our stuff our waste would be minimal.

I don’t have an answer for the plastic and waste that has already been produced. It is piled up in big pits, away from my waste free home. I don’t know what the answer is to that. I do know that our recycling programs are not growing at the same rate our obsession with stuff is expanding. It would be so easy to point the finger at our State governments and local Councils. But really it is ourselves we should point at. Instead it is our problem and the lack of responsibility we have for our stuff. We spend the money, we make the message.

There are pioneers out there that are rolling up their sleeves and taking responsibility for their own and others misuse of plastic. They are buckling down and creating alternative methods to the current definition we know as recycling.

Organisations like the Vortex Project tackling ocean pollution and producing an item of clothing from that pollution will no doubt spark other bright minds in the world of recycling and up-cycling. That bright spark could be you.

Upcycling and the recycling of goods are inspiring me more and more. Giving objects, plastic or not, a second or third life that will hopefully keep that item from ending up in landfill straightaway or at all is a growing industry and one that should be in the spotlight more.

My stuff is special; I treat it with care and will hopefully have it forever. Our resources are not infinite but our imaginations are. I applaud the pioneers that have arrows in their backs from daring to make a living with our discarded stuff. Recycling and Upcycling could be one of our most lucrative industries yet to come. Instead of neglecting our stuff to landfills, we should take a second look at the possibilities and treat it with the importance it deserves.

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