Recycling Words, part 1

I’m currently working on an article about language around recycling and it is proving to be a far bigger job than I had at first expected it be. I had never realised just how many different words we use nor just how many different interpretations of those words there are nor how differently people interpret them and use them.

In my research I was taken back to a piece I wrote originally in 2012 which was presented to me by a web search from where it was posted back in 2012. It is already on this site as I did add it when setting this site up as the very first post but it’s worth a bit of a recycle itself so here it is again. The words are the same, the pictures may have changed as I can’t remember the ones I used originally.

It’s got to be new, brand new, it’s got to be new*

I discovered today that there are still people who go ‘yeuuck’ at the thought of something recycled. Suggest they buy second hand and their nose screws up in a rather less than endearing way.

Then there are people who will buy recycled, but not second hand.

And to make things even more complicated there are people who will buy nearly new, or pre-loved, even vintage but not second hand.

Yet I can’t find anyone who won’t give space in their home to an antique.

What’s the difference?

Whether you call it recycled, re-purposed, up-cycled, re-made, re-fashioned, restored, nearly new, pre-loved, vintage or any other of the myriad of synonyms for either it’s still second hand.

And if it’s an antique chances are it’s not only second hand but third, fourth, fifth or even more hand!

Has anyone ever breathed brand new air? Or drank brand new water? No. Not at all. Never, Not since the dawn of time, unless of course you believe the story of genesis in which case Adam did. Actually not even then, because the animals were already here and using it.

That beautiful dress you spent a weeks food budget on had probably previously been on another person’s body, maybe only for only minutes in the changing room but still, it had been worn. And as soon as you’ve worn it once it is used, second hand, once-loved. So what difference does it make if you’ve worn it a handful of times or someone else has?

Man has been recycling as long as he’s been breathing, he just didn’t make a fuss about it before. He used something, when it was no longer useful for that purpose he used it for something else. The concept of brand new is very new in mankind’s history. The concept of only brand new being worth while is even newer.

And we can’t keep it up, the world just can’t support this forever.

(* sung in the style of Sinatra. Or Robbie. Whichever you prefer.)