Tough economic times encourage frugality. With fewer resources we have less to spend and less to waste. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle is more important than ever.

Most communities do at least some recycling today. Overall, consumers are concerned about manufacturing’s impact on the environment. We are more aware of the permanent damage our wastefulness has on this planet and how it will affect future generations.

It’s amazing how long it has taken us to realize this. In 1992 I wrote an article for the Chicago Tribune on recycling. It heralded DuPage County in Illinois as one of the first to provide a community recycling program for residents. Separating recyclable items from trash was a novel idea at the time for most home owners.

But recycling really isn’t a new concept. Evidence of it dates back to at least 400 BC. Particularly during periods of severe hardship, throughout history people have sought ways to use items no longer needed by others. We just forget to continue doing so in times of prosperity.

There is some debate over the economic efficiency of recycling programs. Recyclables must be collected and economically processed into another product without negatively impacting the environment for it to be worthwhile. There also needs to be a demand for the recycled products.

Overall, though, it makes sense to purchase consciously, not only considering how the item was processed and where it came from but whether or not we need it at all as well as how we dispose of it when we are through with it.

The world is our backyard. What are you doing to prevent it from turning into one giant landfill?

©Mary K. Doyle

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