Ways to (kind of) Fix the Consumer System


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.








5 thoughts on “Ways to (kind of) Fix the Consumer System

  1. I am glad that you talked about this issue because, from my experience, many Americans seem to think that recycling is the answer that will solve all environmental issues when it comes to consumption. Obviously, we must do more than recycle. Reducing and reusing are also beneficial, but I think your blog really brings to light the fact that we as a nation need to start brainstorming new ideas on how to preserve our natural resources.

    Erica Bock


  2. Great topic of discussion. The 3D printer concept of recycling is a very cool and intuitive idea, b/c you can make virtually ANYthing with one of those bad boys. its an idea that could help, but saving the planet is more than intellect. The physical labor of being green is also important, and comes from more than having a million dollar idea of new technology. Reducing our carbon footprint is just as essential to things like recycling. Choosing to ride a bide vs car, to shower vs bath, use light from the sun or candle instead of led etc… our everyday actions are just as accountable as the great ideas people think will progress the world.

    Chandler B


  3. I agree that a circular instead of linear system of consumption would do a lot to fix a lot of problems. Like anything, it is a process. I think it is interesting that the first thing these inventors targeted was a 6 pack holder. I wonder if this was done to target the minds that are old enough to purchase alcohol, but also young enough to have inventive and creative minds to assist in widening the idea. I am wondering the effectiveness of any material to be reused, and if not would we have to start at the production part of the consumer chain? Also, would this be more difficult to accomplish with companies than reusing materials that no one has a claim or process to?

    Annelise Wilimitis


  4. There are so many alternatives to the plastics and other items we toss in landfills. From spending time abroad plates made from pressed leaves as a “throw away” are so much easier to biodegrade and can even be eaten by animals, city streets are being rebuilt and changed to give cyclists the right of way, but what I see in the US is none of those things are happening yet.
    ~Asha Brogan


  5. I love that your photo is of an IPA beer can. Just last week I was listening to NPR on my daily commute to work and heard an interesting story about the efforts of hops growers in Europe. Truthfully I don’t remember just where exactly they were located, but I know they farmers water supply was mainly influenced in the spring by melting glaciers. In recent years, snow fall has been poor in the winter and thus the water supply short in the spring. Farmers in the area have been working together, in stead of fighting for the need water supply, but rather on ways to recycle water and conserve so that it can be used more effectively. There was even mention of how they are working on using kilns, to dry the hops, that are more heat efficient and use less electricity. This was all news to me. Though I’m a huge IPA lover, I had never really considered what all went into the production and how much water, electricity and waste was produced.

    -Allison Johnson


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