Psychological Barriers to Reuse
I work part time with an environmental art organization dedicated to waste reduction. Part of my work with them is to curate materials that people would like to donate to artists. Metro government has a reuse line (503 234 3000) that allows Portland people to call in and get help on where to take their stuff they would like to recycle. Occasionally, there are pieces that are perfect for artists to use such as old instruments or dental office teeth molds. If this is the case, people call me to have help to connect to artists. Talking to people about their unique waste streams is interesting because they legitimately want to give items away to people that will reuse them, but they don't want to have the human to human contact that reuse can require. For example, if an item would be better reused on Craigslist, they typically don't want to post it there because of all the fear around the type of people that would show up for their stuff. They are fine having an artist call them to make arrangements, however. The take home here is that if you are looking to reuse items donated on craigslist you might call yourself an artist, and there are huge psychological barriers and stigma attached to reuse, recycling, and recapturing waste.
Waste pickers around the world suffer these social labels when the services they are providing is so needed and valuable. When I modeled high couture fashion made from trash I loved the mental flossing that provided. Here was a group of beautiful ladies wearing refused trash reimagined into amazing creations. We watched as people had to face their conditioned stigmas.
The social marketing needed for the circular economy and waste to product economy to thrive is educational and a marketing (destigmatizing) challenge on the outside as much as it is a systems design challenge on the inside. In your area of influence remember to see the reverence in the recyclers, the scarab people, remember that you can quell the fears people towards the "type" of people that reuse, remake, fix. Somewhere being resourceful and waste conscious was co-opted by wasteful capitalism and the consumption economy and we have to reclaim that ethos as sane, common sensical, ecological, and creative.
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