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By Mark Peterson

We’ve all heard the news reports that recycling is dead, not sustainable and the myriad of other reasons to justify why we should all feel better about just throwing all our stuff in the landfill bin. There is definitely some truth in these reports about the recycling conundrum we find ourselves in. Sending all our recyclable products to faraway lands for processing and then shipments back to us doesn’t really make a ton of sense. Other issues cloud the processes and it is apparent it is less and less likely this is a plausible economically and environmentally sound scenario.

Many experts agree we need to designate vastly more resouces to research and development and consider the entire lifecycle of our products and especially once they hit the end of their lifecycle. Mother Earth’s resources are limited, and we have already reached capacity for what we can continue to extract and pretend we there won’t be consequences. At some point, sooner than later, we need to get real about waste issues and start making real progress toward finding solutions.

One thing is for certain, we aren’t going to recycle our way out of this. I and others have written about the recycling fallacy ad nauseum. Recycling is a tool for waste reduction but not the end all be all. We have to break the cycle and thought process that we can continue to extract and produce goods from mainly virgin material. We must turn off the flow, incorporate vastly more recyclable materials, make products that last longer and are easy to repair. The current state of waste seems bleak, but I am optimistic that change is on the horizon.

Recently, I was fortunate to meet with a Bellingham based company, Gear Aid, that is fueling my glass half full outlook. Their business model relies on one of the major components of waste reduction – repair, renew, reuse. Gear Aid produces a myriad of products that makes your gear last longer and perform better over its life. They state as a core value, “Instead of purchasing new gear every time it rips or tears, repair it…to make it last longer. When your gear starts to look tired, faded or cracked, renew it. And when you’re finally ready to upgrade, recycle it.” Seems like great advice to me!

Gear Aid also conveyed that their market research shows there in an increasing demand for their products because consumers are placing an increasing priority on reparability. Consumers are being more selective about their purchases and saving up to buy more quality gear and in turn want ways to repair it to make it last longer. The lost art of DIY home repairs is making a comeback and that’s a good thing and gives me hope. Now, if we can just stop scourge of single use plastics…but that is a topic for another blog. For now, I am going to revel in delight for the easy process of patching my down puffer with a long lasting adhesive repair patch.

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