Happy 2009. It is a new year and hopefully a greener one for planet Earth. I was going to write something about global warming this month, however I don't think it would sit well with a lot of us in Canada and parts of the United States right now. As I write this article we are in the midst of an Arctic chill where the temperature is sub-zero. Don't get me wrong, I think we are experiencing climate change overall which includes global warming, but being a Canadian in the middle of a January cold spell, makes me want warmer weather! But all sarcasm aside, the overall effects of climate change and global warming are not pleasant in most cases. Weather extremes may be a part of the global warming phenomena, but I will talk about that when it is warmer out.
You may have heard of the term "precycling" recently. What is precycling? "Pre" means "before" and "precycling," refers to "preventing recycling" by taking some steps before. We as must all recognize that while recycling is a good thing, we must not accept recycling as an "end all" to environmental issues. Waste reduction is the process and the policy of minimizing the amount of waste produced by individuals or a society. While recycling is a positive thing, it still requires energy to transport the materials, melt them down and then re-manufacture items. Precycling tries to avoid the amount of stuff that gets chucked into landfills and the recycling bin to begin with. Precycling means considering the life-cycle of what you buy, the amount and types of materials and energy that went into its manufacture, the amount of packaging, the length of useful life, the opportunities to recycle the item, and its total impact on the planet from these choices.
There are many ways individuals and businesses can precycle. First you can buy products in bulk with less packaging. This cuts down on the need for packaging materials. One of the largest materials used in packaging today is plastic. Plastic comes in many different forms and most of it can be recycled, however if we cut back on the initial use of it, it will help combat environmental problems. One example is to buy a water filter system as opposed to consuming numerous small bottles of water. You should also purchase items that come in recyclable packaging instead of non-recyclable. One other way to precycle is to cut down on the use of mail and paper and opt for e billing instead of paper billing when you can. Not only does this save raw materials but also it saves energy indirectly. Retail business should cut down on the practice of printing so many weekly flyers that get tossed out as fast as they get delivered. Posting an e-flyer online not only saves the business money, but it cuts down on needless waste. Catalogs are another source of waste. Instead of sending huge catalogs to every household in the neighborhood, make them available online or at the store for a small environmental fee. Rent or borrow items you rarely use and share them with family, friends and neighbors. Before buying that book or magazine you may read only once, check out your local library, yard sale, or book club. Other ways are to purchase rechargeable batteries, reuse, sell or donate magazines, toys, books, clothes, and household items. Buy for quality and maintain and repair items such as tools, appliances, shoes and clothing to extend their useful life. You can also reuse plastic tubs and glass jars as storage containers.
Precycling is the most effective waste reduction strategy and refers to reducing the amount, or the toxicity, of your waste before you create it. Pre-cyling helps to cut down on the initial production of things that eventually needs to be recycled or even worse gets thrown in landfills. Recycling is very important, but precycling is the prevention of the creation of things, that need to be recycled. Everything that is produced has to be made or manufactured. Think about what you have to buy or use, then try to find ways to precycle, when you make those choices. Support the companies who make an effort to conserve, not only in what they produce, but how they produce it. See if they have other options so you can precycle too. Pre-cycling not only will help save our planet and help the environment; in a lot of cases it will save you money. Being somewhat frugal and environmentally friendly at the same time will be practiced more and more during these economically and environmentally challenging times. I mentioned only a few of the many ways we can precycle. If you know of any other ways, please share them with us on our blog.