Reduce, Reuse or Downcycle

June 18, 2009

Most of us feel good about recycling, and for good reason: recycling helps us stretch more life out of resources and it can greatly extend the life of landfills.

But recycling isn’t truly recycling – it’s actually ‘downcycling’, because products sent for recycling are never remanufactured into the same product – they are turned into something of lesser quality, lower down the chain of products. Eventually, virtually everything ends up as trash.

So while recycling is much better than throwing something out, the best thing you can do for the environment by far is the first R: reduce.

You can read more about downcycling here: and an excellent book on the subject is “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” .

In the news

Yesterday, the Obama White House released a worrisome 196 page report projecting how climate change will affect Americans in the coming years. As one scientist put it, the report shows that climate change “affects the things people care about”.

Energy independence in ten years? That’s the goal of Repower America – and here is their latest 30 second ad.… if the US can set such a target for a power grid much, much larger than Canada’s, what’s holding us back?)


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