Thursday, June 25, 2009

to buy or to make? what is your answer?

I just saw a review over on The Crunchy Chicken of a great-sounding book that's going on my next library order -- The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen's Guide to Saving the Planet. It must be synchronicity, since just this morning I watched the DVD of Kilowatt Ours: A Plan to Re-energize America, and am more determined than ever to reduce and reuse as the leading edge of my own family's battle to live as more responsible citizens. My summer employer found out just today that Jeff Barrie, producer and director of Kilowatt Ours, is available and will be coming to speak next week!

Recycling is a tricky third leg of the 3 Rs, because large-scale recycling depends on finding a market for recycled materials. That means somebody (= consumers = you and I) has to buy whatever the finished product might be. The recycling program where we are has been discontinued for the summer, because the guys that collected all the materials can't sell them anywhere that will pay enough to make it worth their while.

I'm happy to buy recycled when it's something I need and was going to buy anyway. But what about something that I could make myself? Enviromom was musing about the Mylar that comes into her house, and what to do about it now that it's not recyclable in her town anymore. TerraCycle is a company that collects consumer waste like juice bags (they call them pouches), chip bags and yogurt cups, and remakes them into consumer goods -- very cute tote bags, pencil cases, cardboard fire logs and other neat products. They even pay a small amount per waste item (2¢ per pouch, for instance) to schools and other organizations who collect and send them in (like the cereal box or soup label programs many schools use for fundraising).

Are you like me? When I see great ideas like this my first thought is -- I bet I could make that! So my question is, is it more responsible to send in my juice bags and buy a finished product, thereby supporting a good eco-company and large scale recycling? Or better to keep our (very few) juice bags out of my trashcan, not buy yet another thing at a big retailer, and save my own money, by making similar products at home? What would you do?

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