Is Recycling the BEST Option?

OldGuy43

Songster
8 Years
No, I'm not trolling. I'm hoping for a serious discussion.

I was watching the BBC production of Wartime Farm, and suddenly realized that, instead of recycling we should be reusing. The Brits did a lot of that during WWII. Many products were produced with that in mind.

It all began with one segment that showed Ruth Goodman making a skirt out of a feed sack. The sack was made out of cotton, a war commodity to be sure, but it was printed with a nice pattern and the labels were easily removable. While on the subject of clothing, what ever happened to hand-me-downs? While for 13 years I was an only child, I had a cousin who was 2 years older. Remember patches on jeans? I won't even start on cloth diapers.

That led me to think of other products that could be re-purposed. Remember when jelly and jam came in glasses that, once you washed off the label made nice drinking glasses? Every home had a collection of them. What ever happened to returnable soft drink bottles.

My granny used to make jelly every year. (We had two cherry trees in her back yard.) She saved all the jars that she'd collected over the years and capped them with a layer of paraffin. (Wax, for those readers from the UK.) We even saved that when we uncapped them for use the next year.

Than there's beer bottles. While the federal law prohibiting their reuse was repealed in 1964 I can find no breweries that want them back. However there is another option. While illegal here in Texas I remember my family taking a one gallon jug down to the neighborhood bar and getting it filled up. After drinking all the beer, we washed the bottle ready to be reused.

I have lots more things that used to be reusable or re-purposed, But I'll stop now, and wait to see what y'all can come up with.
 
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ChickensRDinos

Songster
7 Years
Aug 19, 2012
2,242
240
208
Los Angeles
The things that drive me crazy are all the one time use items like the swiffer wiper things or now they have disposable soap face wash clothes or those one cup coffee pods -- everything is just throw away and it is so much trash. I bought microfiber clothes and sewed my own swiffer wipes so that I would not be throwing anything away. I also mix my own cleaner for the spraying part.

The BEST option is tricky. Ideally we use way way less plastic/trash and wash and reuse as much as possible. Ideally we eat real food and all have a garden and know how to sew and fix things so less is wasted but it's a fine line because if it is not realistic then people will not do it and it is no longer best because it becomes nothing. Recycling programs are very doable for all different types of people and lifestyles.

When you look back at how things used to be you also have to look at the big picture and most families had a stay-at-home mother who had time to wash out every single thing and was home for milk delivers and was taught to sew and cook and clean because those were her only options. I know my grandmother made all of her sons clothes for most of their childhoods. She also has no formal education and was married with a baby at 18. We have to find good options for regular working people in a modern world. I would probably love the skirt you are describing and would enjoy making it but finding the time to actually do that would take me weeks/months.

We also live in a Walmart culture where things are made incredibly cheaply. People want more more more instead of better. So, everything falls apart. When I buy cheap clothes, they disintegrate and I am a grown women who takes decent care of her stuff -- I can't even imagine how children go through some of these poorly made, crappy things.

I put quite a bit of effort into sustainable living and most of my hobbies center around that as a goal. I believe in it profoundly. But, I have no children and make a pretty decent living so I can make time for things that some people do not have the luxury. I also work a lot and will admit that sometimes I let things fall because it can get too hard to keep up with. I can see it becoming almost impossible if I had more people to care for and less extra income for longer lasting things.

I think the BEST thing may also be being happy with less. A few quality things that function well rather than lots and lots. We also need better education. When we still have a major political party who often refuses to acknowledge that we might need to discuss green issues and some public schools fighting to be willing to teach basic science it is hard to convince a lot of people to bother to care when caring can be inconvenient.
 
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kuntrygirl

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
11 Years
Feb 20, 2008
22,031
783
461
Opelousas, Louisiana
That is the only way of life that I know is to recycle. And I love the old jelly glasses being used for drinking glasses. I try my best to recycle everything that I can. One thing that I do regret in life is not taking home economics in high school because I would love to know how to sew so that I could sew my clothes, towels, etc. Instead of taking home economics in high school, I was in the band and sports. Now I can't use either of those skills to survive unless I'm wanted to be a musician or athlete and that ain't gonna happen. I have been looking for a sewing class in my area but I can't find one.

I'm a very simple person and I agree with being happy with less. :love
 

Chic-n-farmer

Showers of Blessings
11 Years
Jul 24, 2008
2,815
58
246
Clark CO. IL 25 Chicken Years
My Grandmother made clothing and quilts out of feed and flour sacks. I think she would have been using the new feed sacks to make stuff just like I do:

LL
LL


We recycle everything, but I agree that re-purposing something is the better way to go!!
 

newfoundland

Songster
9 Years
Jul 1, 2010
976
80
151
This is a wonderful thread and the 'War time Farm' was very evocative of mine, and I suspect many others, early life experiences. I understand you recycle in the US but am I right in thinking it is done individually? Here we have a different system. We are issued with 3 different coloured wheelie bins. A green one for garden waste and compostable food scraps that is collected every second week, a large grey one into which we pot plastic, tins, foil, paper, glass for recycling which is collected every second week, and a smaller black bin for everything else, also collected every second week. Only the contents of the small black bin goes to landfill sites, all the rest is recycled. In our county we have an average 85% recyclable rate.

If anyone wants to start making their own clothes, even if they haven't had lessons, look out for simple sewing patterns. These are brilliant they not only take you step by step through pinning, cutting out and sewing, they also recommend what type of fabric to buy etc. The same with knitting and crochet patterns.

My mum always worked outside the home as well as keep house, the old fashioned way with elbow grease and very few cleaning aids. A proper meal was cooked from scratch every evening and she taught us to read, write, sew, cook, knit and crochet as well as keep house. Dad grew all our fruit and veggies, mended our shoes, did repairs around the house and made furniture where necessary. Friday night was mum's night off. She went to a book club where they read a novel and then discussed it. Dad was left in charge of us children and he read to us from the Bible and told us stories of his childhood. They believed in honesty, good manners, industry and self improvement and mum's hands were never idle. She is still the only person I have ever met who could knit and read at the same time.
 

oldrooster

One Crazy Nut
9 Years
Feb 19, 2012
4,280
4,161
417
monroe county indiana
My Coop
My Coop
I am 20 years out of high school and while I was a freshman (almost a quarter decade ago) we learned the three r's of recycling, reduce (less packaging, or waste), reuse (like you said old guy about using a jar over and over again or buying a jar that double as a glass), and recycle (taking the plastic,glass metal etc. to a recycleing center or scrap yard), and yes Old Guy and chick-n-farmer at that time it was getting harder to find items that would last lots of use or be reused again either as it's intended job (canning jar) or a differnet one (jar to drinking glass, sack into dress or shirt) look at it now we have phones (cell phones) people replace every 2-5 years, not every 25-50 years(home models). why they don't make Jelly jars that are also canning jars or drinking glasses I have no isea, feed sacks, I know that few people sew anymore so I understand that somewhat. If you where able to lets say get jelly jars that made nice drinking glasses after you get all you need you could find a nice box and get a dozen or so and gift them to a highschool/college grad for their first apt/home or to a young married couple setting up their first home, I culd go on and on but I won't right now.
 

jewels621

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 3, 2013
47
12
36
Taylors Falls, MN
I love this thread! When I was first married (29 years ago) I did everything myself.....canning, freezing, sewing clothes for our 3 boys, home cooking from scratch, etc. I didn't realized what an anomaly that was until my husbands family terrorized me for being so unsophisticated. I vividly remember the first Thanksgiving dinner I made for his family. My MIL wanted to know what stuffing mix I used ( I didn't even know you could buy stuffing mix!), where I bought the pies ( I made them), and then she looked at me with disdain and asked me if I milked the f$&[email protected]& cow, too. I was mortified and devastated. I, obviously, was not as "cultured" as that clan. Once my kids were older, I got away from some of that way of living....other than cooking....I have ALWAYS been a home-cooking-from-scratch kind of girl. Now that my boys are married and off on their own, I feel like I've come full-circle. I have a huge organic garden, chickens for meat and eggs, cows are coming next month, I'm sewing and quilting again. When I realized that my new DILs don't even know how to cut up a whole chicken, I decided that I didn't want all this to be a lost way of living. I am slowly teaching them to cook and sew, and my future grandchildren will have access to learning everything I know about whole living at the farm. It's not only about reduce, reuse, recycle.....we must also pass on the knowledge that we glean from this life. Society is so far removed from so much of this. I thank God every day for the skills that were passed on to me!
 

ChickensRDinos

Songster
7 Years
Aug 19, 2012
2,242
240
208
Los Angeles
In the US recycling programs are different state by state. In California, as part of normal trash fees we are issued three bins -- trash, green waste, and recycling. The different kinds of recycling are sorted at the plant. I think this is fairly common in a lot of states. Some are more individual, especially in more rural areas, and I know Delaware just has one bin and all recycling is sorted out of the trash for everyone at a facility. But, Delaware is very small state.

There are also certain programs like CRV (California redemption value) which is a tax on metal cans and other recyclable drink packaging. You have to pay that extra tax when you buy those things and you can individually decide to bring the cans to a recycling center to get that CRV back in full. This also varies by state. In CA it is just a little more than the value of the metal by weight but the cans must be not crushed and you have sit and feed them into a machine one at a time. You can also take them to a by-weight facility and will get less money but it is much faster to process and you can crush the cans for storage. I know some cities around me are also starting to outlaw disposable plastic shopping bags.



I thought of this thread because I got an email today from a urban community garden group offering Victory Garden classes for only $15. I think this is wonderful. The problem that I see with a lot of food growing program is access. It is very urban where I live and very poor. Backyards and even balconies are rare. Nutrion education is very low and home ec skills are barely there. What is practical for some is not for others. What things all people can realistic participate in is something that I am very interested in as an urban farmer. What changes can be made that are low to no cost and practical but will have an impact? Like car and bike sharing programs, for example.
 
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OldGuy43

Songster
8 Years
Again, not trolling. Just stating my opinion. Recycling is not the best option. Reusing is far more energy and resource efficient. Can't sew? Learn, it's not that difficult. Don't have time to cook? Why, because you both work? Perhaps if you learn to sew, and grow and cook your own food from scratch you'll save enough that the second income won't be necessary. Just because something's broken doesn't mean that it needs to go into the trash. Try to repair it. What have you got to lose? If you can't it's still just broken, and that's what you started out with. If you can patch it together, you win!

The city of Austin, Texas was recently complaining that the recycling program was costing the city millions of dollars a year to operate. That doesn't sound very efficient to me.
 

ChickensRDinos

Songster
7 Years
Aug 19, 2012
2,242
240
208
Los Angeles
I am really glad you started this thread and completely agree that not making any trash at all is by far the best option. Recycling is expensive. It takes oil to make plastic and we need to be making WAY less plastic -- it is nasty stuff in multiple ways. Our throw-away culture is scary and sad. I am also not trolling. These are issues I genuinely care about. But is trying to solve this issue at an individual level realistic?

If your intent was to discuss fun and interesting ways to reuse things then I have gone way off topic -- sorry. But, if it really is a question of the value of recycling programs then I think they have very significant value despite the cost because of the level of access.

How do you learn to sew? Classes cost money. Sewing machines cost money. Books cost money. Fabric and buttons and zippers and thread cost more than the cheapest clothes. To have things to reuse you have to have things to start out with. I do not have enough feed bags to make a wardrobe nor would that skirt (as lovely as it might be) be suitable for me to wear in an office environment.

It is incredibly sad but it is cheaper to buy super crappy pre-made (non)food that it is to cook a real dinner and every one of those pre-made things is wrapped in trash. To cook you need pots and pans and a kitchen with cupboards and counters and you have to buy the food. The demographics of groceries store produce is shocking. I lived for six years in an apartment with a kitchen so small that only one person could stand in it and just spin in a circle not take a step. It had three cupboards total and only a half stove. The entire counter space was room for one small cutting board. I would not consider this a bad apartment for my area.

Grow your own food? Where? How? With what? Growing indoors takes up an entire room in my house and doubled my power bill.

Repairing things and building things takes tools which are expensive and you need at least a small amount of work space in which to actually complete a project. Pallets are great but how do you get them home without a car?

I really wish that DIY culture were more prevalent but at the same time there are a lot of other factors at play. It does not reflect the reality of what I see every day. More people live in cities than don't. I think bigger changes need to be made than just sewing. Right now recycling is better than nothing.
 

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