Reduce, reuse, recycle: why reduction should command attention first

The phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” has been at the environmental movements’ forefront for years.

Resource conservation is emphasized through the phrase regarding to ecological concerns for the future of the planet and, therefore, humanity.

Recycling has received greater attention than reducing and reusing.

Recycling alone neither highlights the base issue, nor proposes preventative measures.

The exponential increase of material waste in our society should be addressed as a fault in mentality and our disregard for material possessions viewed in a larger context. First, we have to make reduction a priority.

“Reduce” begins the phrase because it is the first step toward a long-term, preventative approach.

We can recycle everything, but that does not account for ever-increasing product demand.

If consumerism remains stagnant, then this approach would work.

However, the reality is that we have fallen into unsustainable purchasing habits, often for no reason other than personal satisfaction.

The problem lies in many factors, and among them is displaced meaning pushed on us daily through corporate propaganda. Displaced meaning refers to our attention toward money and not what money represents.

Currency is merely a symbol for material goods and in it, we place higher value than possessions.

No longer do we focus on needs, but instead on how much we can afford to own.

This is reiterated daily through advertisements that push heightened consumerism as a status symbol.

Another misconception promoted through propaganda is that “new” and “clean” are synonymous terms. We often dispose of plastic containers and storage bags after one use instead of washing them.

We buy disposable cleaning wipes instead of wash cloths or sponges to prevent accruement of germs.

We are swayed by on-the-go packaging such as individually bagged snacks and 24-packs of water.

Instead, we could reduce materials by investing in water purifiers and reusable bottles, as well as packaging our own snacks in reusable bags.

We are driven by aesthetics and are quick to disregard products that don’t meet those standards.

Slightly damaged goods are often thrown away instead of applying the rational approach that damaged does not always mean unusable.

A large societal issue impeding broader effort toward waste conservation is political stigmas.

Environmental awareness is pigeon-holed as liberal and separates many from hearing its rational side.

Sustainable manufacturing and conservation practices are stereotypes for hippies and egocentric New Age-types, who are regarded as jumping on a cultural bandwagon doused in patchouli.

What should be discussed is the great impact our consumption rate has on many facets of society. With as much as we produce, there is no reason that such an alarming rate of people are starving and are impoverished in our country.

There is plenty to go around, but the increase in manufacturing costs leads to corporations taking the easy way out in order to amplify output.

This outsources jobs to other countries, diminishes supplies at a rapid rate and forces prices up.

These environmental issues have reason.

If you consider ever having children, just think of the position you are leaving them in. Think of the ideals you are reinforcing to them.

If nothing else, think of the people living now who are unable to comfortably survive because of our consumerist ideals.

It is understandable to want possessions and to reward yourself for your work, but consider that you can fall victim to those only concerned with maintaining their wealth.

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