Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I was noticing that the soles of my Simple Shoes are being worn out, and I was wondering what would happen to them when the soles were completely worn out. The shoes are made of either recycled materials or natural materials like hemp. But the rubber soles made me think about something of a much grander scale - tires for cars. I remember Professor Filisko telling us in our introductory materials science class that rubber can't really be recycled, and that you'd become the richest person in the world if you figured out how. A few years ago, car tires could not be recycled. But now, apparently, car tires are being used for various other purposes once they have been discarded, but apparently there are more than one billion tires discarded annually. This means, however, that more than one billion new tires are being made from natural resources annually. Just as with metals, these materials are being taken out of the earth, and are now crowding the living space on the surface of the earth. Sure, recycling, or reuse of materials is worthwhile, but we continue to extract more and more materials. It is not as if we are saying, "Okay, our stock of rubber that we have processed and is now available for use is all we are going to have for the next 100 years, and so we are going to have to make due with what we've done so far." The paradigmatic shift is to move away from concepts of "consumption" and "efficiency" to the concept of "sufficiency," as Professor Princen says.