Would you like to buy my waste?

I really enjoyed the topic this week. I had several “ah-ha” moments, but not quite at an epiphany level. It was very helpful to really draw a line of distinction between recycling, reuse, upcycling, and downcycling. In my mind, I’ve always just grouped these together as way of reducing consumption or making use of waste. I never thought before about what it really took to take part in any of these cycles. For example, “How can there be anything negative about or better than recycling? Turning waste into something new is great.” Yet, recycling a product into another requires reprocess which could require significant amounts of energy. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recycle, but I learned even ‘green’ solutions need to be looked at closely and implemented wisely.

I really like the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) concept and the aspects of it. It makes so much sense. I think it’s important for people, products, and companies attempting to adopt a c2c system to remember the traits in addition to waste equals food. In order to be a c2c system, solar energy needs to be considered and local resources implemented, in addition to the waste=food goal. I’ve never heard of the terms ‘biological metabolism’ and ‘technological metabolism’ before. These new concepts to me were very enlightening, especially when combined with ‘monstrous hybrids’.

Big businesses are only concerned with profit, and are largely ignorant or indifferent about their environmental responsibility or role. While I still believe this to be the case, I also see what a challenge it is to revamp their production in a sustainable way. A company, whose livelihood is selling monstrous hybrids, products unable to be fully reabsorbed by a biological or technological metabolism, has a lot to lose. Reducing monstrous hybrids would make such a huge impact when products are actively fed back into their given metabolic stream. How cool would it be to have everything be able to be put back into the system? Could you imagine it? I look at my couch and think, “what could you be someday?” For now, social concern has not amounted to enough pressure for radical change. Some change is occurring slowing, as can be seen in the Nike and Puma examples discussed in past class periods, but it may be too little too late.

I think a lot of what c2c proponents focus on is waste. Yet I found some discrepancy among some of the c2c products discussed in the LOLA show. The roofing tiles went back into roofing tiles, which would reduce reprocess. Some of the other examples didn’t have strong information on how the waste was fully utilized or if it was put back into their own system, but they still fell into the c2c category in a sense. There seems to be a distinction between using a product’s waste to make more of that product, and using a product’s waste in a general recycling system. I don’t know if one is more preferable. The c2c method seems to want the first, but I don’t think it completely discounts the later.

C2c has many positives, and I think correctly addressed would be a great thing. It seems to be quite broad, or iffy…. No, no, iffy is not the right word….. What am I trying to say? It’s complicated. No, really, that’s what I’m trying to say…C2c is complicated. Being ‘green’ is complicated. I am certainly more aware of all the different aspects and believes all falling into various aspects of sustainable change. I think my natural tendency to want a strict outline to follow needs to be kept in check. Rarely is anything going to meet a 100% of the criteria. Much like grades in school, there are varying degrees.

I like that C2C focuses on waste because addressing the waste issue really starts at the front of the production line. We certainly don’t need to be adding to the landfills, but I wonder if anything can be done about the waste in the landfills. Can anything be safely done with this waste? Is it so full of monstrous hybrids that none of it can be put back into the system? We are learning about what can be done to slow down the damage we are doing, but now I’m thinking about what, if anything, can be done to reverse any of the damage we’ve already done.

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