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Is recycling outdated?

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ZUMA Press/Newscom

(Read caption) Before recycling, Pamela Hawley suggests, first think about reusing the item. Photo: Customers separate recyclables in two streams at Randy's Sanitation and Recycling in Delano, Minn. One is paper, the other is glass, cans, and plastic (shown here).

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Recycling is outdated: Its time has passed. I’ve been thinking about this for about the past year, that recycling is outdated. I know that might seem a crazy statement to some.

Yet we really have to encourage ourselves to reuse, and reuse again, and there are so many creative and inspiring ways to do so.

To-Go Containers

I’m often surprised in my office when people get lunches to go, how many containers go in the recycling. I quickly pull them out. Many of these are solid containers which can be used again 100 times. We actually probably never have to buy Tupperware. These containers can be reused for a leftover, half-eaten waffle from our breakfast, to a four-portion meal remaining from a dinner party. Many of them are durable, safe, and strong enough to go in the dishwasher.


I also see the same thing with tinfoil. Sometimes when there’s a catered lunch at the office, large swathes of tinfoil cover the main entrée, or even a side dish. This aluminum foil can be washed down and dried, and reused multiple times. Fifty times, I’ve found.

I’ve stopped buying aluminum foil.


Now this might sound crazy to some, but I am making sure that I am not “throwing out” water. In our kitchen at home, we have a hot pot that heats up our water. If it’s half full in the morning, I often dump it out, and refill the whole container. And yet, I’m throwing away precious water. How many countries across the world – how many millions of children – would die for those two cups of clean water? How many do?


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