The Taos Recycling Center has been closed for a month and a half now, and as town and county officials debate a strategy for either reopening it or providing a more efficient alternative, local residents might take this time to reassess their personal habits, which were probably sending more junk than necessary to the old recycling center to begin with.
Reduce, reuse and recycle has long been the mantra of the environmentally conscious, but without that final step in the process available in Taos at present, we’d be wise to examine the first two in greater detail. If reducing how much you consume seems too difficult, then consider how you consume. One of the easier adjustments to make is to buy more used goods and buy them locally, which not only reduces waste but supports the Taos economy, which, if it wasn’t already obvious, could use a shot in the arm right now.
Consider this basic comparison: When you buy a T-shirt on Amazon, you’re not just getting the fabric dropped on your doorstep. That new T-shirt comes in a package, usually including cardboard, paper and plastic. Unless you’re going to use those materials for some other purpose, they’re likely going to end up in a landfill. Then there’s the demand you’re generating for the new shirt itself, the carbon footprint of the factory that stitches it together, shipping it to the Amazon fulfillment center and then transporting it to where you live. Alternatively, if you were to buy that new T-shirt at a local thrift store, you could probably walk out with just the item itself. While not a perfect solution (there’s still the impact of your trip to the store and back), it dramatically reduces the end waste your purchase produces.
Then there’s the question of what we do with the stuff we don’t want or need anymore.
According to the Council for Textile Recycling, Americans buy about five new articles of clothing every month and throw away about 70 pounds of clothing every year. Instead, consider donating used clothing still in good condition back to our local thrift stores. There are quite a few of them here, and some support admirable causes. Taos Men’s Shelter on Albright Street will take used clothing. So will the local women’s shelter, Heart of Taos.
A government-provided recycling solution in Taos might not happen this year, but even if it does, our habits are going to have to change sooner or later.