Commentary: Do we need trendy terms to encourage recycling?

By Joe Jarvis

This commentary was reprinted from The Daily Bell.

I don’t know why the media has to come up with stupid terms for everything. Reading about sustainable living, every time I see the word “lifecycling” I feel like I am hearing nails on a chalkboard. Everything has to be trendy and new, so apparently, the word recycle is out. Now recycling is a lifestyle.

Lifecycling takes recycling to the next level; it’s a philosophy that embraces new, creative uses for products as a way extend their cycle, positively benefit your personal life and keep as much garbage out of landfills as possible.

Of course, I think recycling is great. I really love efficiency and hate waste, so reusing everything I can is pretty satisfying. But thriftiness is a big motivator. I take pride and find satisfaction in keeping my expenses a fraction of my overall income.

On the ten acre mini-farm I live and work on, there were a lot of random materials left when we moved in. We found a way to recycle almost everything.

One of our chicken coops is 90% wood that was left on the property, and the other 10% was leftover wood from building a shed. I removed an old concrete walkway in front of the house and made a berm as a backstop for shooting. Old buried bricks were turned into a patio under the live oaks. I also lined some garden beds with more salvaged bricks and cinder blocks.

We compost the insane amount of leaves which fall off the huge oak trees and use the compost in the gardens. We are expanding out rainwater collection, and one structure is getting solar panels next week!

We used pallets to make a gate and the floor of an outdoor kitchen. In fact, the counter and sink for the outdoor kitchen were snagged for free off craigslist when someone threw them out. Craiglist is a great resource to find cheap or free raw materials for any number of projects.

My brother-in-law, who owns the mini-farm with my sister, works for himself buying used items at yard sales, thrift stores, and estate sales, and selling them on eBay. His whole business is centered around reuse, finding good items a new home, not in a landfill.

So even though I hate the term “lifecycling” I do love the concept. It’s just funny to me that it is being sold as a cool new movement of youngsters! Actually, it was the norm back in the day. People sewed and patched holes in clothing. Composting veggie scraps was a no brainer. Fences were even sourced from backyard lumber.

Recycling has the potential to free up a lot of capital. Since we find so many free and cheap materials, it means the mini-farm can grow that much quicker. Even things like buying used chicken processing equipment instead of buying it new meant that money could instead be spent on building a fourth chicken coop.

Some of what keeps me from recycling more is the effort it takes when there is no cost saving incentive. I know it would be better to bring my own reusable jars and bags when buying food, but that means more planning, hassle, and weird looks from strangers. Okay, maybe I’ll get the weird looks no matter what I do.

That is why it is nice to see technology making it easier to make good choices.

Other green-minded advocates have focused on making environmentalism more accessible. Downloadable apps help you locate facilities for practically any kind of recyclable and discardable items (iRecycle) and find a new home for reusable goods (Freecycle). Beyond that, a little creative thinking goes a long way.

Again, words like “green-minded” and “environmentalism” make me cringe because it makes me think of power hungry EPA officials shutting down family farms and global warming fear mongers patting themselves on the back for driving a Prius.

But it really is unfortunate that those groups have taken ownership of sustainability buzzwords. There is nothing inherently anti-free-market about caring about nature and wanting to keep the world clean and beautiful. However the methods a lot of green environmentalists use are definitely wrong.

They advocate government force to combat global warming, or to harass farms for water runoff. They dump tax dollars into failing solar companies, all while the government subsidizes the oil industry. Many states have restrictive laws about collecting rainwater–a no brainer when it comes to reducing how much electricity is used to pump water onto your property and a huge cost saver when you need to water crops.

Even if the government had the best intentions, their tool is a hammer, and we all look like nails. They simply cannot solve environmental issues without becoming more powerful and harming individuals.

Luckily the power is already in the hands of the individuals to keep the Earth healthy. Voting for people who will force environmentalism on the world, with sometimes disastrous consequences for humans, is laziness. People think they do their part by forcing others to do their part.

But others lead by example, and encourage their neighbors rather than dictate. I give them credit for not advocating using the violence of the state in order to push their agenda, even if they do use stupid terms in the process.

As much as I poke fun at terms like “lifecycling,” maybe that trendy branding is what is needed in order to market recycling. I admit I don’t know much about Urban lifestyles. The homesteading self-sufficiency crowds I gravitate towards find reuse natural, and necessary.

Tell me about your favorite recycled product you have created or used. I always like to get new ideas.

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

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