Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Belief System: Waste

I hate waste. That sentence basically sums up this part of my philosophy, but I'll go on so I can explain some of the repercussions and practical principles that come from it.

When I talk about waste, I'm not just talking about the obvious physical waste that everyone can see. Of course we should recycle, reuse, compost, and reduce the stuff we use. At the same time, there are many kinds of waste besides the physical: wasted time, wasted potential, wasted mind power, wasted space.

I see all sorts of waste all around me all the time. For example, there's school. At every level, assignments are used mostly to further the students themselves. Many of these assignments, with a few modifications, could be exported to the "real world" and actually affect it. For example, rather than make students write a report on, say, National Parks in the US, you could get them to make a Wikipedia article on protected areas in Western Australia, most of which don't have articles yet. This way, rather than the report rotting on a desk, it can become part of the growing body of knowledge being built in this amazing resource.

One principle that I try to live by based on this whole hating waste thing is "Use what others might not." For example, if I see napkins that someone left on a table at a restaurant, I'll use those rather than get new ones from the dispenser, because those napkins will probably be thrown out. I don't know for sure that other people won't use them, but they might not, so I might as well use them.

Another principle is to use what you've got until its unusable (in terms of stuff, not nature of course). This is the reason I still carry the wallet I got when I was 14, even though the zippers are broken and the window for my ID is gone. As long as I can stuff a bill into it, I'm gonna keep on using it.

Its extremely easy to get carried away if you take any principle to far, and I'll talk about how I keep myself from doing that in my next post.

Peace and Plants