STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Do We Need Trendy Terms to Encourage Recycling?
By Joe Jarvis - August 01, 2017

I don’t know why the media has to come up with stupid terms for everything. Reading about sustainable living, every time I see the word “lifecycling” I feel like I am hearing nails on a chalkboard. Everything has to be trendy and new, so apparently, the word recycle is out. Now recycling is a lifestyle.

Lifecycling takes recycling to the next level; it’s a philosophy that embraces new, creative uses for products as a way extend their cycle, positively benefit your personal life and keep as much garbage out of landfills as possible.

Of course, I think recycling is great. I really love efficiency and hate waste, so reusing everything I can is pretty satisfying. But thriftiness is a big motivator. I take pride and find satisfaction in keeping my expenses a fraction of my overall income.

On the ten acre mini-farm I live and work on, there were a lot of random materials left when we moved in. We found a way to recycle almost everything.

One of our chicken coops is 90% wood that was left on the property, and the other 10% was leftover wood from building a shed. I removed an old concrete walkway in front of the house and made a berm as a backstop for shooting. Old buried bricks were turned into a patio under the live oaks. I also lined some garden beds with more salvaged bricks and cinder blocks.

We compost the insane amount of leaves which fall off the huge oak trees and use the compost in the gardens. We are expanding out rainwater collection, and one structure is getting solar panels next week!

We used pallets to make a gate and the floor of an outdoor kitchen. In fact, the counter and sink for the outdoor kitchen were snagged for free off craigslist when someone threw them out. Craiglist is a great resource to find cheap or free raw materials for any number of projects.

My brother-in-law, who owns the mini-farm with my sister, works for himself buying used items at yard sales, thrift stores, and estate sales, and selling them on eBay. His whole business is centered around reuse, finding good items a new home, not in a landfill.

So even though I hate the term “lifecycling” I do love the concept. It’s just funny to me that it is being sold as a cool new movement of youngsters! Actually, it was the norm back in the day. People sewed and patched holes in clothing. Composting veggie scraps was a no brainer. Fences were even sourced from backyard lumber.

Recycling has the potential to free up a lot of capital. Since we find so many free and cheap materials, it means the mini-farm can grow that much quicker. Even things like buying used chicken processing equipment instead of buying it new meant that money could instead be spent on building a fourth chicken coop.

Some of what keeps me from recycling more is the effort it takes when there is no cost saving incentive. I know it would be better to bring my own reusable jars and bags when buying food, but that means more planning, hassle, and weird looks from strangers. Okay, maybe I’ll get the weird looks no matter what I do.

That is why it is nice to see technology making it easier to make good choices.

Other green-minded advocates have focused on making environmentalism more accessible. Downloadable apps help you locate facilities for practically any kind of recyclable and discardable items (iRecycle) and find a new home for reusable goods (Freecycle). Beyond that, a little creative thinking goes a long way.

Again, words like “green-minded” and “environmentalism” make me cringe because it makes me think of power hungry EPA officials shutting down family farms and global warming fear mongers patting themselves on the back for driving a Prius.

But it really is unfortunate that those groups have taken ownership of sustainability buzzwords. There is nothing inherently anti-free-market about caring about nature and wanting to keep the world clean and beautiful. However the methods a lot of green environmentalists use are definitely wrong.

They advocate government force to combat global warming, or to harass farms for water runoff. They dump tax dollars into failing solar companies, all while the government subsidizes the oil industry. Many states have restrictive laws about collecting rainwater–a no brainer when it comes to reducing how much electricity is used to pump water onto your property and a huge cost saver when you need to water crops.

Even if the government had the best intentions, their tool is a hammer, and we all look like nails. They simply cannot solve environmental issues without becoming more powerful and harming individuals.

Luckily the power is already in the hands of the individuals to keep the Earth healthy. Voting for people who will force environmentalism on the world, with sometimes disastrous consequences for humans, is laziness. People think they do their part by forcing others to do their part.

But others lead by example, and encourage their neighbors rather than dictate. I give them credit for not advocating using the violence of the state in order to push their agenda, even if they do use stupid terms in the process.

As much as I poke fun at terms like “lifecycling,” maybe that trendy branding is what is needed in order to market recycling. I admit I don’t know much about Urban lifestyles. The homesteading self-sufficiency crowds I gravitate towards find reuse natural, and necessary.

Tell me about your favorite recycled product you have created or used. I always like to get new ideas.

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  • Earn nest

    “I know something you don’t know” the child sings. They called themselves progressives. Or technocrats. The notion that knowledge is intelligence and they have more than you permeates their movement. The deplorables that gathered to write the constitution would tell us to question and never trust authority. In God we trust, others pay cash (not reserve notes)..

  • Laura Amanda Allen

    Hear! Hear! I’m quite sick of the word green! “Lifecycling” may be brand new and trendy if one is 23, but it’s not to those of us who are “adult children of depression era parents.” My father, born in 1905, “recycled” and “reused” before anyone ever coined the words. We had fenceposts, irrigation systems, and playground equipment made from – World War II surplus bomb casings! Dad may have been the only person to come on the planet who actually did beat swords into plowshares! While the bomb casings were stacked in the front yard, waiting to be “reused” and recycled”, they were the world’s largest condo for black widow spiders.

    When Dad finally left the planet, at 93, my brother became best buddy pals with the local hazmat team because of all the stuff Dad had in his garage and on his property because “you never know when you might need it”.

    Know what else? Reusing and recycling weren’t trendy in the 19th century, either. We found the inventory of great-great grandfather’s estate, dated 1832, signed by Alexander Doniphan, who, 15 years later, became a hero in the Mexican-American War. Great-great grandfather had “1 old this and 2 old that’s and 3 old barrels and 4 old logging chains and five old…” The common theme was “old” – ready for use and re-use whenever one might need them.

    • Something about a playground made from old bomb casings is great! The true recyclers don’t need trendy terms.

  • Spanky Lee

    Except for aluminum and reusable glass bottles, recycling doesn’t save money or resources. Paper recycling is a good example.While the best statistics indicate that the use of recycled paper saves about 46 of the energy needed to make paper from wood scrap, the figures ignores the fact that to realize this savings, paper to be recycled must be clean and free from other materials. To accomplish this generally requires significant work and money. In the end, a lot of recycling harms the environment more than it helps.

    So why do cities and other governments expend a lot of money establishing and subsidizing curbside and other recycling programs? Why? Because it makes people FEEL good. The truth—on the other hand–doesn’t always warm our hearts or fit neatly into a political philosophy. But it has the rare virtue of being, well, true.

    • Absolutely, there are definitely side effects of trying to recycle in that way. We find more benefits in recycling things on your own, by using and reusing things in productive ways, which would otherwise be thrown away or left to rot.

  • autonomous

    I recycle my trees into usable lumber and paper products. I have plans to recycle a mountain into coal, iron, cement and gravel.

  • georgesilver

    “Tell me about your favorite recycled product”
    I don’t think it’s actually recycling but may be it’s magic. You take everything down to the end of my little road and put it into this large bin. Next morning it has magically disappeared.

    • That does sound like magic, I wonder what happens to it all.

  • georgesilver

    “On the ten acre mini-farm I live and work on,”
    Sorry the cynic in me couldn’t get past this…….. hilarious.

  • r2bzjudge

    “Do We Need Trendy Terms to Encourage Recycling?”

    No, just a recycling bin.

  • r2bzjudge

    ” But thriftiness is a big motivator. I take pride and find satisfaction in keeping my expenses a fraction of my overall income.”

    I read the other day, that Al Gore allegedly uses 34 times the electricity of the average home owner. Obama was the same way, flying Air Force One all over the place, dumping tons of carbon into the atmosphere as he pleased. So much for climate change being real and dangerous, as Obama claimed.

  • What do you think about the Paris Accord? And our pulling out of it?

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