Tuesday, October 14, 2008

reduce REUSE recycle

The reusing part of the Reduce Reuse Recycle mantra seems to be similarly forgotten. While riding my bicycle through Newport Beach I noticed a lot of furniture in the trash waiting to be picked up. A small bench, a stool, a coffee table. All in good shape, too. These things could have been donated to Goodwill or a similar entity or sold in a garage sale! A few years ago I found a large round coffee table sitting next to the trash bin outside of an apartment complex near where I lived in Philadelphia. It was in perfect condition but didn't fit my eclectic style. But I dragged it home and covered its surface with a mosaic of tiles, including 4 ceramic coasters I bought at a garage sale. The results were stunning. So now this piece of art sits in my front yard where we enjoy sitting around it drinking a beer or glass of wine.

Reusing items also keeps them out of the waste stream, where they need to be picked up from the trash and hauled to a landfill, which costs energy, money and space. Reusing also prevents the need to expend energy and money on the recycling process. It also prevents the need for a similar product to be manufactured (in a place such as China).

What happens to the stuff we toss out? Amazingly, a lot of it ends up in the ocean. Marine researchers Charles Moore and Marcus Eriksen were on their boat about 700 miles north of Hawaii in January and found trash everywhere. They found a vortex of trash bigger than Australia, covering 10 million square miles. This plastic, which includes billions of very tiny scraps that float on the water's surface, can be mistaken for food by fish and birds and can kill them. ``No matter where we go, we find plastic,'' said Moore, 60. ``The ocean is now this plastic soup, and we just don't know what that's doing.'' They frequently find larger items such as potato chip bags, lighters and toothbrushes.

This is a site where kids can learn to make crafts with used items, such as an old toothbrush!

Websites that encourage innovative reuse solutions:

Let's keep this from happening:

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