Three R's for Sustainability: Reduce, Repair and Recycle

Sunnuntai 7.4.2019 klo 16:41 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Three R's are a principle in the use of experimental animals. However, there are very different three R's that would be highly appropriate for controlling how we utilize the Earth - Reduce, Repair and Recycle. By applying them properly we could decrease the material flow quite easily to one tenth of what it is now.

1. Reduce. In our societies overpackaging is the rule. Quite often, e.g. bisquits are first in cardboard box, which is divided into two by plastic cover, inside which individual bisquits areIMG_20170729_0026.jpg further wrapped in plastic cover. We ourselves continue this overpackaging by, e.g., putting bananas in (plastic) bags, although the pricetag could easily be placed on the fruit itself. One can quite easily find possibilities for reducing material without reducing functionality in virtually everything we use. The possibilities are immense.

2. Repair. During recent past it has been common that instead of repairing a broken machine (I include TVs, computers, phones, printers etc. in this in addition to dishwashers, fridges, washing machines and freezers) it has been cheaper to buy a new appliance. This is certainly not sustainable. When we were poorer in 1950's and 60's the household machines were invariably repaired many times. The EU is now making a repair directive in an effort to facilitate slower turnover of household machines.

3. Recycle. Since apart from packaging the amout of materials is not really increasing any more, all the materials used in them could be reused to make similar products. This would significantly decrease the need for mining thus reducing the environmental destruction. It could also be cheaper than making the metal from low quality ore. In recycling, the best possible case is, if the recycled product can be reused as it is. In this regard, returnable flasks are the best, when the same product can again be placed in the bottle. In this case no energy is used for remolding the material for new use. It is also quite funny that since plastics recycling is not very effective, there is not enough material for factories using recycled plastics as raw material.

By using the three Rs, the use of materials could become sustainable. As estimated in the beginning, one could require only one tenth of the material as compared to today. A reduction in material requirement could easily be three-fold, product life length doubled and recycling doubled or tripled.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: resource use, ecological way of life, single-use products

World Population Day

Tiistai 10.7.2018 klo 10:52 - Mikko Nikinmaa

In 1960's-1970's when the environmental movement started, population growth was considered to be maybe the biggest problem for the future of the earth - it was considered that world's agriculture could not feed population exceeding 5 000 000 000. We are now 8 000 000 000. So, the development of agricultural practises has enabled food production far beyond the expectations of late 20th century.

However, that does not mean that there would not be many problems associated with the large population. The increase in agricultural production has been achieved with the help of pronounced pesticide use and artificial (mineral) fertilization. Fertilization in crop production is an important component in eutrophication of waters, which is also caused by the excretion of people and livestock. Water and land is polluted by pesticides and other toxicants. Recently, as a result of waste production of the large human population, the huge plastics problem has been generated. One can also say that the climate change, associated with the large use of fossil fuels, is caused by the large population. 

Further, the oceans are overfished, the mineral resources are overexploited etc. In fact, the earth's resources are drastically overused - if the population were much smaller, the overuse were much easier to avoid.

The World Population Day is on July 11. As one aim of the future for world population is to curb population growth. In Europe the population is not increasing any more, and the same could and should be the goal for every other part of the world. The second aim should be to increase recycling: instead of producing new products of virgin materials and at the end of the product's life time throwing it away, everything should be recycled. It would be important for us in Europe to have all the household machines to be made so that they would be repaired instead of being thrown away/replaced when broken down. As a final aim, the whole concept of economy should be changed: economic growth should not be sought for.

As individuals and families/groups we can celebrate World Population Day by decreasing the group's use of resources per time. The manifest of concerned scientists can be found at, which generally is a site to follow if one is interested in anthropogenic influences on Earth.


Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: population growth, sustainability, climate change, resource use