Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Reuse, Reuse, Reuse

So the mantra of eco-friendly living is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", right? Let's see how New Orleans is doing:
Recycle: Nope, nada. There hasn't been any recycling since the storm. Cans, bottles, absurdly erroneous Road Home rejection letters—they're all just trash.

Reduce: Well, a lot of us have a lot less stuff than we used to. Does that count?

Reuse: Ding! Ding! Ding! This is where we really excel.
Last night we hauled various unwanted items out to the curb. Within five minutes, a truck had stopped, and a man was stripping plumbing from the old, battered sink. The work crew down the street snagged an old door. By morning, the pile was picked clean. Anything that might be of value to someone somewhere was gone.

This is the way it always is. We're a poor city. The street curb functions as a sort of informal peer-to-peer Salvation Army, implemented by a large network of trash-pickers, odd-jobbers, and fix-it-uppers. With a minimum of overhead and no overriding organization, things migrate from where they're not needed to where they are. Broken stuff gets fixed. Every drop of value gets squeezed out of items that, in more prosperous locales, might long ago have been cast off as not worth the trouble. It's remarkably efficient and slightly amazing.

I'm glad we're good at something.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:30 PM

    Shades of Kenya where in the local markets you would find the most amazing things made from tin cans, gallon plastic vegetable oil containers, etc. etc. It was actually wonderful to see.