Disposable, reusable-A A +A
Saturday, July 21, 2012
TODAY, the issue is no longer about paper versus plastic. Rather, it is about disposable versus reusable.
As both paper and plastic present environmental hazards, it is not prudent to proclaim one to be the ecologically superior choice over the other. If we truly want to save the planet from environmental destruction, we should choose reusable over disposable. Both plastic and paper can be disposable but they can also be reusable.
Long before environmental awareness became the vogue, our family practiced reusing and recycling. I was raised in a household where reusable was superior to disposable. Truth to tell, it wasn’t because we were light-years ahead of others in environmental awareness, it was plain-old thriftiness that caused our parents to teach us to reuse and recycle.
We religiously recycle in our office and household. We write on two sides of the paper and when both sides of the paper are full, we shred the paper and use it for stuffing in packaging. I sometimes even cut the margins out of used paper to save the unused portions and reuse them.
We never throw anything we can reuse—paper, envelopes, folders, paper bags, plastic bags. At any given time, we have on hand an inventory of used stuff which would probably last us for decades. I’m still using the back side of my students’ test papers from 12 years ago.
Yes, we are serious recycling advocates.
It’s very hard to throw anything away in our household as our father brainwashed us since birth to never discard anything that can still be of use. One time, while on vacation, we were served snack packs on the plane bound by an exceptionally sturdy rubber band. The following day, much to our amazement, all of us despite having been seated separately on that flight and thus unable to confer with one another, had decided to keep the rubber band.
That’s how strong the concept of recycling has been ingrained in our family.
The solution to alleviating the problem of ecologically-hazardous footprints on our planet is not to choose paper over plastic or plastic over paper. The solution is to reuse and recycle as much as possible. We cannot continue to operate as a disposable society because if we do, one day, we will be swimming in our own landfills.
After all the word wars between paper mills and plastic manufacturers, allow me to say in the spirit of peace that neither of you present the better alternative. The better alternative is neither paper nor plastic but reusable bags, possibly made of canvass.
These reusable bags can be used and reused hundreds of times as opposed to paper or plastic bags which can probably be used only several times.
The reality is that we have to return to the basics and slowly discard the habits of the disposable lifestyle we have become accustomed to. Disposable is practical in the short-run but harmful in the long-run. The population is teeming. The litter is overflowing.
The battle lines have been drawn. It’s disposable versus reusable.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 22, 2012.