The past week’s in-class discussion has been about consumption. A problem with the current way we consume goods is that it’s a linear system. We are using resources in a way that is not sustainable. We are depleting the environment of its resources while also littering the world with toxins and waste. A problem with the current linear consumer system is how much waste it produces. A way to fix this linear system would be to utilize the waste we produce as a potential resource. Reusing “waste” or products that no longer work will enable us to minimize the amount of resources we consume and would decrease the massive amount of goods that goes into landfills or other disposals around the world.
Recycling is a great way for “waste” to reenter the consumer world and is better for the environment than using raw materials. Recycling aluminum requires 5% the energy needed to create new aluminum from mining raw material. Creating plastics from recycled plastics takes two thirds the energy needed to make new plastic. An interesting way to recycle plastics yourself is the ProtoCycler. The ProtoCycler by ReDeTec will shred plastic and create filament that can then be made into anything using a 3D printer.
Biodegradable products would help prevent products from entering the landfill and staying there for potentially thousand or even millions of years. Products can even benefit the environment, such as the Saltwater Brewery’s edible six-pack rings. The rings solve the problem of plastic rings killing marine life and benefit them by being food for those animals.
These options aren’t going to solve all the problems with today’s consumer system but they are good options to start addressing the issue.