This past Saturday marked the 36th anniversary of Earth Day, a day dedicated to environmental awareness and education. This article in the Seattle Times mentioned FutureShop and its thesis as one of the “top five actions you can take to help both the planet and your pocketbook.” I agree.
As more and more people adopt the auction culture, we will begin to see a renaissance in recycling - but in a much broader and different way than we did in the past. Our past recycling initiatives revolved around the conversion on trash back into raw materials that could be reprocessed into useful things. Aluminum, paper, glass and plastic were core commodities associated with the past recycling culture. In the new auction culture, people will expand their notion of recycling to tangible products that still have useful purposes in their present form (unlike, for example, a used can of Coca-Cola). We are already seeing this with computers and other consumer electronics ( although products from a large percentage of programs targeting technology are not recycled but rather disposed of in an environmentally safe way).
As more people resell their under-utilized possessions rather than throw them away, less waste will be produced since these items will find their way to people who will use them rather than the dumpster. Unlike the prior recycling mindset which was solely driven by either a desire to behave in an environmentally responsible manner or by local ordinances that forced you to do the same, the new mindset will be driven in part by money. There is little direct or measurable benefit to the citizen who recycles newspapers or containers. There is, however, a direct and measurable benefit when you receive a check in the mail from a buyer of your old notebook computer.
Capitalism preaches that if people behave in a purely self-interested manner, such activity will ultimately benefit society as a whole. This axiom plays out in an ironic and powerful way with regards to the concepts in FutureShop. Look for a positive and meaningful impact on our environment as people seek to improve their lives through auction culture and our society begins to adopt the culture of selling our possessions rather that holding onto them until they need to be thrown away.
In the new auction culture, you are doing good whether you think of “green” as an environmentally friendly icon or simply as a synonym for cash.
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