Repurpose, reuse, recycle is a fundamental mantra, or at least I thought it was. Now with all the accelerating horrors of overconsumption once again coming to the fore, I wonder.
Doesn't everybody already repurpose, reuse, recycle? Doesn't everybody make things last, make do, make the best of what they've got? I guess not.
I'm typing this on a ten year old laptop in a 110 year old house in rural New Mexico. I'm on a dial up connection. The phone/answering machine on the desk is one of the few "new" things in this house. The other phones are old. They have dials for cripes sake.
I'm listening to a live broadcast of a folk music festival in Albuquerque on a "new" radio/CD player sitting on top of a stack of old books in this room. Other "new" things in this house include a teevee in the living room (no reception though, because we're not connected to cable or satellite, and there is no broadcast teevee in this area, so we use it to watch videotapes -- yes, we have many of them, old, old, old -- and DVDs). A new heater was installed when the house was renovated. New double pane windows were installed then, too, for energy savings. A new stove was installed in the kitchen. I bought a new microwave when we moved in. The ceiling fans were installed when the house was renovated. I bought a futon new before we brought any beds here. Apart from food and supplies and some utensils, that's about all there is in this house that is "new."
Every other stick of furniture is old, some very old, and none of it was purchased new by us. All the rugs are old, none purchased new by us. The lawnmower is old. I did buy a new cord for it.
We reuse or recycle all our paper/cardboard, cans, bottles, plastics. Kitchen waste is composted into the -- eventual -- garden. It's just what you do. We do what laundry we need to do by hand because we don't have laundry appliances here. Not yet. I've found old doors and other old items on the property and I've reinstalled them or reused them where I can rather than buying new, or even buying used.
The van in the driveway is creeping up on fifteen years old, creeping up on 250,000 miles. Of course it does take some maintenance to keep it going, and it isn't the most thrifty possible vehicle I could drive, but it gets better mileage than the cash for clunkers program required for a trade in rebate.
It just seems perfectly normal to make things last as long as possible and to buy new only what is necessary.
Repurpose, reuse, recycle.
But apparently Americans are still somewhat leery of such basic formulae.