Let’s look deeply into the remainder of the 6 R’s: Refuse, Repair, Repurpose/Reuse and Rethink.
Refuse: this means not accepting things that are not the best option for the environment. For example, is the packaging really needed?
Repair: is the product easy to repair? This will extend its life.
Repurpose: could the product have another use? Could its parts be used in other products? Is this information clearly communicated on the product? This will extend the resource’s life.
Rethink: is there a better way to solve this consumptive problem that is less damaging to the environment? If we must purchase something is the manufacturer employing Cradle to Cradle design?
I grew up in the 1950’s and twice a year I witnessed a Scandinavian tradition in my neighborhood. You could walk down the street and see everyone involved in all kinds of cleaning chores; window washing, roof repairs, gutter cleaning, garage cleaning, etc. Dads, Moms and children; everyone had a chore.
For “stuff” the rule was, if you haven’t touched it since the last cleaning and cannot find another use for it, it has to go to someone who can.
I loved it because we had a garage sale right after and got to barter, trade, raise money for our favorite school projects and charities and meet all the new neighbors and some very interesting strangers. The “stuff” stories and conversations, shared food and laughter were always welcome. I continue that tradition in my own family to this day.
As a single mother, when my daughter was a child, we owned a loft building in South Boston and I recycled 70% of my “stuff” into my art surfaces. My daughter will remember we used to go “dumpster diving” every weekend where commercial enterprises such as the Boston Children’s museum and 50 other companies in the area yielded treasures beyond our wildest dreams. Yes, we were freegan‘s back in the 70’s, go figure.
So if you do not have a tradition, I encourage you to create one. It’s an incredible educational vehicle for the family. Watch the story of “Stuff” and the story of “Broke” . They are worth a family viewing (20 minutes each) to understand how consumptive habits and your “stuff” choices are connected across that quintuple bottom line. You will learn how each of our choices effect environments, cultures, people and profits everywhere in the world.
Take an inventory of your “stuff”. Have the family go through their rooms and gather anything they have not used, worn or not needed in the last calendar year. Just before or after the holiday’s is a great time to do this every year. Go through your toolboxes, garden sheds, and attics and gather the family’s pile in the living room, basement or garage.
Divide the pile into the following four groups and create your own family solutions to learn about how there really is no “trash”. Every resource we “consume” has a full life cycle and this week’s exercise is to help your “stuff” get to its next cycle.
- Freecycle one item through the http://www.freecycle.org/. Did you know Craig’s List isn’t just for selling your “stuff”? List one item under the category “free stuff”.
- This is the opposite of the above. Choose an item during the week that you need and would purchase NEW and either ask for it on http://www.freecycle.org/ or “barter” for it on Craig’s List.
- Get in touch with your creative side and choose an item to repurpose, downcycle, or up-cycle; some examples are here(22 clever repurposed furniture ideas), here(up cycling), here(101 ways t repurpose broken household items) and here(41 ways to reuse broken things).
- Engage someone in your community. Find a local neighbor, person, family, new business in need for one of your items, or a talent or service you can provide free to them for 4 hours. Learn more about the economic, cultural and social needs of the community you live in; sign up to volunteer 4-8 hours a month to a local charitable organization, look here, here or here.
Remember: Everything is food for something else.
The Deep Dive:
How to freecycle here.
Find out what a Freegan is and why they are so passionate about sustainable lifestyles at Freegan info.
List your items for barter or recycling at one of these networks:
Freecycle site for the Ipswich, MA community here.
Win a free TerraBluTeams T-shirt! Send pics to firstname.lastname@example.org and after-of your most creative up cycle, down cycle or repurposed item!
If this is your first time here, learn more about the 52 week, 2015 TerraBluTeam challenge and exercise structure here.
Please fell free to comment and let us know how you are doing or if you find any tips and tricks we should know about! Virtual engagement policy here.