Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Time to reuse – not recycle

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What a waste: Recycling sent to landfill

The global financial crisis is having an unexpected environmental impact, as recycling gets overlooked.

Councils are appealing for an overhaul of the recycling industry, saying federal regulations forcing companies to use less packaging would ease the load.

Maybe, there will be a rethink of recycling concepts.  The existing paradigm is a ‘feel good’ policy that, until the financial crisis came along, was even profitable.  It did nothing to reduce the amount of packaging used.

When I was a kid, soft drink and beer came in refillable bottles that were collected and resold back to the suppliers.  That was how kids learned their work ethic – that’s where their financial independence came from. If we could reintroduce refillable glass packaging, just think of the relief on our raw material resources and energy conservation if containers were used over and over again.

Picture of a coca cola collection
The many faces of Coca-Cola

(At least, you can still buy Coke in a glass bottle.)

Milk was delivered to the door and you left out the number of empty bottles you needed for replacement.  In fact, milk and cream could be bought ‘loose’ by leaving out an appropriate sized container.

If the law insisted on glass bottles for all foodstuffs, we could stop the use and waste of plastic bottles that harm our health and the environment simply as a by-product of being plastic.

Before supermarkets, most ‘groceries’ came to the store in bulk and were measured out into paper bags upon purchase. That included butter and cheese, all dry goods (sugar, flour, etc.), and biscuits. In fact, the only pre-packaged goods were processed foods (baked beans, vegemite, etc.) or preserves like jam and sauce. I guess it was not unlike modern ‘delis’ which didn’t exist back then.

No plastic supermarket bags, or ‘green’ shopping bags – just string bags and cane shopping baskets.

Of course, these are only the memories of an old man and, with our growing population, they are not likely to be considered for the future.  However, it is like the problems we face with peak oil and carbon management.  The reality is, the only way to alleviate the problems is by reduced consumption.

We need to push for minimal packaging for everything we consume.


Written by Greg Naylor

22 February 2009 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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