Monday, April 10, 2006

Don't mind the image - it made me laugh. You cant beat a balanced diet...

Last week, as part of their "series of thought-provoking environmental opinion pieces", the BBC suggested that the act of recycling merely provides us with an excuse to consume. Don't get me wrong; they're not saying that recycling is bad. They are just saying that by performing one good deed, we subconsciously "buy the right" to forget about the implications of subsequent consumption.

The BBC criticism is a minor tweak in the old "end of pipe" or "the horse has bolted" critique of most current solutions to environmental problems. In short we are looking at the issue of waste from the wrong perspective. Recycling should not be the focus, sustainable shopping should be. I'll never get sick of being right: this is exactly where ShoppingFix comes in. Making effective choice as consumers sends the right market message. Government is typically averse to regulating
business to achieve social outcomes, so Business practices will only change if consumers provide the economic incentive. ShoppingFix will help this process by facilitating consumer support of responsible businesses.

Sustainable shopping must include the realisation that a large portion of consumption happens away from home. We eat out, we are entertained at clubs and stadia, we go to work. So the fact that you put your recycling bin out on the curb once a week is just part of the solution.

Also important is consideration of the market for recycled material. My earlier entry on the plight of glass recycling in NZ speaks volumes for the dominant "out-of-sight out-of-mind" consumer mentality. It also highlights our problem of economies of scale. As a result we need to be smarter than the average consumer society. The Packaging Accord has achieved some meaningful results, but it has highlights the limits of voluntary industry action.

Being smarter means being more aware. The local resources are out there but tend to be passive and limited in reach. Keep reading here and keep your eye on ShoppingFix. We'll be offering an opportunity to
actively participate in local sustainability. We'll not only offer a smart solution to some of our most pressing consumer problems, you'll be able to adopt it in your day to day shopping life.

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