Reuse Economy

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This is not about reusing the economy but about an economy of reuse rather. Reusing what we have and this reuse can, does and will take many different forms.

It will, however, stifle the economic growth – and a good thing that will be too – that the powers-that-be keep telling us we must have in order to prosper; they that is, not us, the ordinary man and woman.

The economy today, the one that they promote, is an obsolete model. It is not broken, however. It was designed this way. It is, however, not fit for any purpose on a finite Planet and is only designed to exploit both man and beast and the Earth.

Douglas Rushkoff has said that we are living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is. That's because, on a very fundamental level, we have pretty much everything we need. America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction of us actually working.

That is what is called overproduction and has nothing to do with making things that are needed but with keeping “slaves” employed – and only that to some degree – and thus built-in obsolescence in products, graveyards for newly produced cars, etc.

Industry keeps producing things that no one buys, because they do not have the money to do so, to make it appear as if the economy is booming. In the case of cars they go even so far as to register those – even though those new cars are destined to be scrapped as no one buys them – to themselves and their agents to make it appear that x-amount of new cars have been bought.

In the main the reuse economy will operate at home and in the community and it is about what it says on the tin; reusing. Reusing what we have and extending the life of everything that we have as well as and especially making use of all those “free” things such as waste materials in form of packaging, such as glass jars, tin cans, cardboard boxes, etc. and also about repairing the goods we have. (More repair in the “repair economy”).

Reusing what we have got instead of buying new and passing on to others those things that still work well and that are good but which we no longer use so that someone else can make use of them.

But, it does not end there!

There are different kinds of reuse that form part of the reuse economy.

The first is reuse per se which means actually to keep using what you already have got instead of buying new simply because it is new (and has more bells and whistles you never will use in a lifetime). The old American adage “If it ain't broke don't fix it” would apply here with but to read “If it ain't broke don't toss it out”. And before you toss it out because it no longer works also see as too whether it can actually be fixed and then kept going. That is the first part of the reuse economy.

The second part of the reuse economy is, as far as I see it, reuse of waste, predominately packaging waste, to repurpose for another, “higher”, use. This is often also called nowadays upcycling. When I was a kid no such names were available and it was just something you did and glass jars became storage containers and even drinking vessels, to substitute glasses; shoe-boxes became filing boxes; tin cans were used also for all manner of things, and the list could go on.

If you would see my kitchen cupboards and counters you would know that I do not just preach it but that I practice it too. There are drinking glasses that are repurposed glass jars, cutlery bins that are tin cans, containers made from milk jugs to hold cleaning materials and tools, and so on. I do not believe in buying something when I can make it myself for nothing, or almost nothing. Why should I throw those glass jars and other things out. After all, indirectly and theoretically, and also practically, I have paid for them when buying the good which were packaged in them.

The reuse economy, so to speak, on a third level is still very active when people, neighbors, pass children's clothes, for instance, that their children have grown out of to others whose children and younger and the same for toys. And then there is the other level of “freecycle” and similar Internet sites and places, and also places in the real world, where items no longer in use in one home (or office) find another good home elsewhere and will continue to be used.

This also goes for the reusing of perfectly good furniture, or items of furniture that may need a little TLC and tuning, and mix and match for furnishing the home was once the way and it is becoming a trend again with some. And why not?

But, as said, the powers-that-be do not really like this kind of economy as it does not help the GDP and the corporations. Tough luck to them. Let them call me a terrorist and yes some government people have just done that some time back when they accused all those people who are thrifty and are reusing and such as equal to domestic terrorists as they – we, as I include myself, thank you – are not spending to grow the economy, the one that they are promoting.

We need to change the economic model to one that benefits both man and Planet and not the big corporations and in fact there is more than one economic model that we must combine to make things work in the right way. Reuse is part of this, as is repair.

© 2014

Buy less and make do with what you've got

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The average person – guess I am not one of them – is bombarded with about 5000 ads per day telling them to buy more and how much happier they would be if they just would buy this, and that and the other.

Far too many, unfortunately, fall for that trick and actually believe that if they have more and buy more they are happier, be this possessions or money to buy those possessions.

And they try to do just that. They have the iPhone that only came out say six months ago but as soon as a new version comes out they have to queue up to get the newest one, and to make sure that they are one of the first to have the latest one, they stand in line for hours and hours. Does it make them happy? For five minutes maybe but that is about it.

What is wrong with using and continuing to use the things that you already have got and which work perfectly well? Well, nothing! But those adverts keep suggesting to the minds of those not as strong as some of us that they have to have those new things because of the additional bells and whistles and in order to be happy and “cool”. If you want to be cool go and sit in a refrigerator.

The first thing to do is in order to avoid all those suggestive adverts, those commercials, is to divorce yourself from your television. You won't regret it, especially not in places where you have to pay some US$200 per year for the permit to be able to watch all that garbage that masquerades as entertainment on the goggle box.

Use the Internet for real good films and material and with the right little websites and add-ons (more often than not free) you can even download many of the movies and such. Furthermore revert back to the radio and to reading – ideally real – books. You know those things printed on paper. The good part of the latter “entertainment” is that it does not need power to run and you can even read during a power outage, at the beech, on the mountain top and wherever else you might fancy. The danger is with reading that it broadens your mind and horizon, especially if you read the appropriate materials.

And you don't even have to buy the books. There are places – I am sure you may have heard of them – where you can borrow books. They are called public libraries. Though, if the powers-that-be had their way those would end up being closed depriving those with little resources of the possibility of reading.

On the other hand many public libraries, as they are run and funded, through tax monies, by the powers-that-be is that you won't necessarily get your hands on every book you might want to read. Some may be banned as too dangerous for public consumption.

On another level there is no need to buy a new cellphone, a new TV (best get rid off the old one to someone who wants it and forget about the TV altogether), PC, or what-have-you when the old one is still performing its service well and covers all our real needs. What good are all those bells and whistles that we will – more than likely – never ever use? They are but a waste of our money – in buying the new product while the old one still works – and a waste of resources. And, despite the claims of the adverts, those new products will make us no happier than the old ones. In addition to that when buying a new one you – more often than not – have to learn an entire new way of using it.

Before you heed the messages in those commercials first consider a few things.

  1. Does my old one still work?

  2. If the answer is yes then don't buy new.

  3. Does my old one still do what I need and want it to do?

  4. If the answer to this is also yes then, again, don't buy new.

  5. If it does not work ask yourself (or someone else) if can be repaired.

  6. If the answer here is yes then repair it, get it repaired or go to a Repair Cafe and get help in repairing it and do it yourself.

When it comes to repairing good old things that are more than worth retaining and (re)using then there are a number of resources you can access for free or almost free.

First there is Instructables (Internet), and also other sites that guide you through repairs and hacks, and then there are the Repair Cafes. Fair enough the latter are still few and far between in some places and they are not held frequently in some places as in others. Nevertheless they are something to look into before tossing a buying new.

Often the reason that something no longer works, specially when it comes to electrical and electronic goods, is a blown internal fuse, a faulty switch or a loose solder joint. While those faults are easy to locate and repair, in theory, the fact that manufacturers today don't want us to be able to repair anything or get anything repaired means that the screws often are of such a type that the ordinary person does not have the tools to remove them.

In other instances the cases are actually glues shut rather than the parts held together by screws and this makes access even more tricky. But with the help of someone who knows how to do it without damaging case and product a repair can, quite often, be successfully achieved and the products saved from becoming another item in the waste stream and a burden to the Planet.

© 2014

Repurposing NOLA: An entire store full of stuff made from scrap and waste

Repurposing nola bags on wall photoBeing in New Orleans for the big Greenbuild conference, we didn't get a whole lot of time to look in stores. However it was hard for a TreeHugger to pass a store called REpurposing NOLA, billed by founder Traci L. Claussen as " female-owned triple bottom line company utilizing excess fabrics of our community to create sustainable designer goods."

In 2009 Traci started making bags from burlap coffee sacks and old carpet.

She began designing bags for her own travels: an eco-duffel for a trip to the Jurassic Coast of England; a burlap HoBo handbag for running around town; a RE-weekender Bag for trips to the coast. She made adjustments to the prototype after each trip, to add or edit options that would make it more useful for the next trip.

She has also filled her store with an eclectic mix of furniture, accessories and knick-knacks, all repurposed from what normally would go to the dump. It's all a great eccentric experience, and Traci seems a bit eccentric too. This seems to be a New Orleans specialty.

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London is too rich, and too expensive, for its own good

‘Capital of the world’ means nothing if only the wealthy can afford to live in it

A group of us, mostly metropolitan types, found ourselves in a public house in Hull city centre last weekend. I ordered a round of drinks: two pints of bitter, a pint of lager, a large glass of white wine and a pint of lime juice and soda. I got out £30 from my wallet, as I'm used to London prices. The barmaid leaned over to me and asked me for £9.40. No, you've made a mistake, I told her. She hadn't. That's what this round of drinks costs in a very nice pub in Hull, with a pool table, cheese cubes and crackers on the bar, and where they play an eclectic mix of relatively obscure Ian Dury songs and country and western standards on the sound system.

Back in the capital, I went to the pub next to my office in Soho and asked how much that round of drinks would cost. Guess what the answer was. £20.60! Yes, more than twice what I'd paid in Hull.

It came as no great surprise to me, therefore, to learn the next day that, according to a reputable survey, London is now the world's most expensive city, taking over that dubious mantle from Hong Kong. It is now twice as pricey to live in as Sydney and four times more than Rio de Janeiro. Hull, sadly, doesn't figure in the list of comparisons.

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State Of Texas Tried To Shut Down A Sustainable Community

garden_of_eden_quinnEarlier this year, the state of Texas brought several SWAT teams to the quiet and peaceful Garden of Eden Community and threatened its existence. In what appears to be an intimidation tactic, only a single arrest was made based on unrelated outstanding traffic violations, and a handful of citations were given for city code violations. Absolutely no drug related violations were found and all inhabitants of the community were unarmed.

Each of the community members present in the house were initially handcuffed at gunpoint by heavily armed SWAT officers. This included the mother of a 22 month old and a two week old baby. As part of the raid many of the crops were destroyed by officers, this included wild and cultivated plants such as blackberries, lamb’s quarters and okra. Officers also proceeded to remove a variety of materials the community had planned to use in sustainability projects like pallets, tires, cardboard and more.

The Garden of Eden Community is a sustainable community geared towards living a ‘high vibing’ lifestyle outside of the confines of how the average person would live. The community believes in coming together to produce the basic necessities of life and they support each other through each step. They grow their own food, live peacefully and since 2009 they have been providing food, shelter and sustainability education classes and workshops to the public for free.

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Beyond the Fear of Living Without Money

Living without money is an issue that many are concerned about but not many people are talking about solutions. Many of us already live in either poverty or near poverty levels.  Is the answer found in government assistance and the material world or is it found in going beyond this ego-centered, materialistic world and finding a new way of living?Living without money is an issue that many are concerned about but not many people are talking about solutions. Many of us already live in either poverty or near poverty levels.  Is the answer found in government assistance and the material world or is it found in going beyond this ego-centered, materialistic world and finding a new way of living?

The world’s economy is based on economics, which is backed by the banking system that is designed to create debt.  For example, imagine that I am your local conglomerate bank and there was only $100 in existence. If I lent you that $100 and expected you to pay me back $110, how can you possibly do this when there is only $100 in existence?  Where are you going to come up with that $10 extra dollars that never existed? This is the global Ponzi scheme that banksters have been playing since the inception of currency.

The mainstream media continues to push ego-centered, materialistic programming while its advertisers support this mentality.  In the meanwhile, we are blinded by reality as we play into the system that has entrapped us as being economic slaves to the elite.  It’s a no-win situation.  The rich get richer at the expense of our hard work. Is this our true, divine reason for being here?

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Homeschooling your active child

Give kids lots of time outside and using their bodiesIn today's society, it's not viewed as a good thing for children to be too active. They're supposed to sit still, pay attention, be quiet. School can be nightmarish for energetic, excitable kids.

It's easy to debate whether children should be diagnosed as ADHD or if we're simply not giving modern kids enough time to be active and expecting too much of them, too soon. Whether you're dealing with a child with a diagnosis or just trying to meet the needs of an energetic preschooler, the same tactics can help.

The good news is that kids in homeschool can learn in ways that truly suit their personalities and their needs -- and be healthier for it.

Here's a few tips for homeschooling active children.

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‘Smart Cities’ Should Mean ‘Sharing Cities’

These days every city claims to be a “smart” city, or is becoming one, with heavy investments in modern information and computing technology to attract businesses and make the city competitive.

But when mayors and developers focus on technology rather than people, smart quickly becomes stupid, threatening to exacerbate inequality and undermine the social cooperation essential to successful cities. After researching leading cities around the world, we’ve concluded that truly smart cities will be those that deploy modern technology in building a new urban commons to support communal sharing.

In India, Dholera is one of 24 new smart cities planned in order to accommodate the country’s rapidly expanding population. The planned city has cleared most approvals, but is stalled with the coastal zone regulatory commission, probably because of the predicted engineering challenges and expenses of a site on salt flats with a high risk of flooding. Moreover, villagers and small-scale subsistence farmers, who inhabit the proposed site and fear eviction from their land and livelihoods, have been staging peaceful protests with support from a grassroots land rights movement.

In London too, smart-city thinking is socially dumb. Here the problem is epitomized by Tech City in the Shoreditch district. Intended as a hub for tech innovation, it has turned into an annex of the London financial complex, dominated by Google, Cisco, McKinsey, and Intel. The artists, designers, and startups that began the process of regeneration in Shoreditch have been displaced by “commercial gentrification.” Just up the road in Tottenham, the rebranding of warehouses as ‘artistic quarters’ has displaced low-rent communities in favor of bankers and financial speculation.

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11 Steps to Starting an Agricultural Education Program in Your School

According to The National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America), creating a proposal and getting started is easier than you think.

Agricultural-Education ProgramWith a little motivation and determination, you too can start an agricultural-education program in your high school.

1. Assess your community’s needs.

  • Why does your community need an agricultural education program?
  • What will your program’s philosophy be?
  • How much interest is there in your projected program?

To find out why your community needs an agricultural education program, look at other schools’ and programs’ descriptions of their programs and talk to their teachers and program directors. The more information you have regarding how the program will help the community, the better start you will have.

Your goals will reflect your program’s philosophy. What will students achieve and what experiences will they have? Here is an example of a program philosophy.

Surveys are an excellent way to get some real numbers on how much interest there is in an agricultural education program. Remember, the program is for the community, so a successful program rides on whether the people involved actually want it.

2. What happens after students finish the program?

  • What careers will be available?
  • Are the jobs local or national?
  • Is class credit available to local colleges?

Find out through the FFA what careers are available, and where, after graduation by visiting here.

3. Gain community support.

  • Which community members have an interest?
  • Survey local businesses.

It’s as easy as a few internet searches or a drive around your town or city to find out which businesses are involved in environmental services, food processing, animal health service, greenhouse and landscaping services, and humanitarian and charity services. These local businesses can be involved by donating money or items that can help you get the ball rolling.

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Loving Local: Place, Economy and Community

A block of brownstone row houses in West Philadelphia became my place in the world – a place where I aspired to start a business, raise a family, and help build a strong and joyful community. Making a commitment to this place and taking responsibility for its well-being was the first step I took toward helping to build a sustainable local economy in my region. After opening the White Dog Cafe on the first floor of my house in 1983, I soon began buying from local farmers. Fresh local food not only became a hallmark of my business, but also the way I learned about broader economic issues for my region and beyond.

A farmer who supplied my restaurant once told me that successful farming is the balance of masculine and feminine energy – of efficiency and nurturing. Too much efficiency and not enough nurturing means a well run farm, but poor quality products. While too much nurturing may produce great tomatoes, but end in a failed business. I applied this concept to the larger economy and saw that our industrial food system is all about efficiency with little or no nurturing. How much can we squeeze out of the soil, the animals, the workers with as little as possible in return? How little space can we give that egg-laying hen? How little light and air? How little food and water? All to get the cheapest egg possible. No nurturing there.

It’s just as bad for pigs. In windowless factory farms mother pigs are kept in crates so small that they cannot turn around, lie down or take a single step for most of their lives. When I first learned of these conditions in 1999, I was horrified to think that the pork we were serving in my restaurant must come from these animal factories, as most all pork in our country does. I went into the kitchen and announced, “Take all the pork off the menu – the bacon, the ham, the pork chops. We cannot be part of this cruel and unhealthy system.” In our search for a humane source, our supplier of free-range chickens and eggs told us of a neighbor who raised pigs on pasture. We began buying two whole pigs a week, and our chef created recipes to use all the parts of the meat.

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