By Lisa McCrummen
Director of Marketing and Development
Center for Sustainable Infrastructure
Americans are renowned for our love of new ‘stuff’. Unfortunately, much of our stuff quickly becomes waste. That hasn’t always been the case. After World War II, two key ideas helped shape the evolution of the global economy; planned obsolescence and throwaway products. The United States embraced these ideas, to help promote economic growth and employment. Businesses and the economy benefited, but without consideration for any other values.
Now, the best science is telling us that much of the damage to the planet and our health comes earlier in the life cycle of products and packaging, before they are discarded by users to enter the waste management infrastructure.
CSI’s new report From Waste Management to Clean Materials–offers a blueprint for transforming the Pacific Northwest’s waste system into a world-class model that delivers widespread economic, health and environmental benefits. One important ‘diamond solution’ to transform our waste system is to get longer life and use from our products.
How do we do that? We can: take advantage of product sharing models; re-use products; and repair and refurbish products. These can all deliver more value from the products that we buy so that we need to buy less of them. Ultimately, this both saves us money and prevents waste.
And some great news – the PNW is a hot bed of innovators that are helping us get longer life and use from our products. Check out some success stories--- from repair ‘cafés’, to ‘tool libraries’ to renewal and resale services for apparel and textile brands to give another life to merchandise that would otherwise be landfilled.
We’re always looking forward to learning about new success stories from regional innovators – feel free to connectwith us!