Why do people say reusing is important? Does reusing products help or harm the environment?
With the big push to reduce, reuse, and recycle these days, people commonly wonder why reusing is important. Some experts claim that encouraging people to reuse items can result in more items in circulation, not fewer.
Read on to learn why these experts say that reusing isn’t as important as you may believe.
Why Is Reusing Actually Not Important?
Many experts advise that products be reused and repaired whenever possible so that recycling becomes a last-resort option, which is the reason why reusing is important, right? In fact, a lack of durability is often not the reason items are discarded.
- Consumers can tire of a product well before its lifespan ends.
- Changing technology can prompt people to replace products even if they’d have years of functionality left. Movie streaming services put functioning DVD players out of service, and wireless speaker systems sent still-operational home sound systems to landfills.
In addition, reusing products can have unintended consequences. Although experts say avoiding the recycling of products is why reusing is important, when consumers purchase a previously used item, it’s often in addition to a new purchase rather than instead of one. A person might buy a second-hand shirt, for example, because it’s cheap, even if they hadn’t been planning to buy a shirt—in this scenario, a sale wasn’t replaced and thus, no resources have been saved. The seller may then spend those proceeds on something else new, resulting in more products being consumed. Additionally, sharing programs (like ridesharing) actually lead to more cars on the road, not fewer.
If these extra products require other products to maintain them (such as used cars, which require gas and parts), then more items in circulation means more additional products being used.
Experts agree that we must transition away from fossil fuels if we’re to have a livable planet in the coming decades and beyond, but that transition will need to be done intelligently if our ultimate goal of saving the environment is to be met—otherwise we are simply swapping out one set of problems for another. The most crucial test will be the transition to renewable energy: Governments must prepare for the coming tsunami of green trash.