Have you ever seen a sign that says "Reduce Reuse Recycle"?
Did you know that they're in order?
You can recycle something like a water bottle or a cardboard box usually by placing it in a blue bin and getting the city to pick it up. But a lot of things can't be recycled, say styrofoam, and most of the time it's difficult (or not worthwhile) to sort the trash out from what can be reclaimed. Did you know that a pizza box with grease on it can't be recycled? The paper fibers break down and lose all their strength.
It can take a lot of energy to melt things down back into their raw materials.
You can reuse something by using it again. Maybe you filled up that cup a few more times before throwing it away, or perhaps someone else was able to use your coat after it didn't fit you anymore. Anything that prolongs the useful life of an item, usually means you don't need to get a new one.
You might be able to make a water bottle out of 50% recycled material, but reusing that cup could mean you only need a quarter as many!
We all live on a planet. We all share an atmosphere and a water supply. We know that for most of Earth's history, the environment was different - much hotter, or much colder, filled with poisonous gasses - less inviting to things like humans, plants, and animals. Reducing our impact on the environment ultimately means reducing the amount of resources we use.
But there will always be more people than the last generation, all working toward a better future, resources become scarcer and scarcer.
That's why Thrift could help save the world.
Philly AIDS Thrift, behind the quirky decor and oddball items, is a massive operation. Above it's showrooms, a full team of men and women (loaded with volunteers) sort through donated clothes. Every single week, they process 10,000 pounds of donated clothing. Some items cannot be sold as is - these are bagged into "weight" and sold by the pound to be used as rags, or even to be exported to developing nations. Everything can be reused in one form or another.
To me, that is the true beauty of thrift. Giving things a second life. When I look up at Mars, red and barren, I wonder why people want to terraform it so badly. To go through all that trouble to create an entirely new Earth, meanwhile we have one right here that works perfectly fine.