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Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Disposable Society

It is remarkable how much we throw away. Whether it's packaging for the products we buy, the weekly or semi-weekly newspaper that arrives at our door, the plethora of junk mail, or the technology we buy, the curse of disposable goods is unfathomable.

It's not so unfathomable if you take a drive towards Michigan, the endless line of trucks hauling Toronto's garbage is a legacy of waste and our disposible nature.

In many cases it's not the cost of the item that makes it disposible, it's the cost of the maintenance. How many of you have been dumbfounded by the cost of replacement cartridges for yout inkjet printer? The ink cartridges cost as much as the printers, if not more. The inkjet manufacturers don't want you to refill the cartridges because of sales, nozzle lifetimes, and/or degraded quality, but this would be the green thing to do would it not?

I recently retired a 10 year old inkjet for a new printer, the printer cost me $50, the ink will cost me $60 when I need to replentish it. Hmmm. The funny thing is I was after a $40 printer that had a ink replacement cost of $40, but it was sold out. We'll see how this goes but I want to stick with this printer for at least 5 years.

Sometimes it's the packaging for a product that creates a waste, all for the sake of presenting itself better to the consumer, that last silence bastion of marketing is discarded when the CD we bought for the anti-virus software is 10% of the entire package. Even the packaging around that kids toy is enough to make another toy out of.

When will this end?

We can even consider the groceries we buy and how they are packaged, I have recently started buying more selectively, smaller quanities in better packaging. I moved from throwing out 2-3 kitchen bags a week, to 1. ONE! FOR THE WHOLE HOUSE!

Admittedly there were other factors to the number of bags that went to the curb. I was living with a cat person. The newsprint-based kitty litter, and her manner of replacing and replentishing it, add 4-5 full kitchen-bags of waste to the mix. How is this better for the environment? Okay, the newpaper has a second use, but this is ridiculous!

I can keep a PC functional for a decade easy. I'm recycling a circa 1998 PC right now as a temporary replacement for a neighbour's PC that died due to faulty capacitors. It's not as fast but it'll do well for the moment. I'm reviving an even older PC for strict Internet (web) use too. Is this the answer? It is for now.

I have 2 more PCs to re-purpose. it's a tough sell, though one may end up an end table, that's still re-use and definately not land-fill.


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