"Our whole retail model over the last 50 years has focused on keeping the industrial machine churning out items," said Ruben, who until 2007 had an up-close view as the head of sustainability at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the king of mass-produced goods. "But if my friend already has shinguards that he's not using, I don't need to buy them for myself."
...Instead of trying to shrink a product's environmental footprint from the production side by making it with less material, advocates — especially clothing and shoe companies — are trying to extend its usefulness on the consumer end.
Retailers such as Hello Rewind are selling goods and products reworked from discarded scraps. Textile makers are experimenting with longer-lasting fabrics. Some businesses are asking shoppers to scale back their buying.
"It fits perfectly with the new movement toward sustainability in the fashion industry," said British designer Orsola de Castro, whose From Somewhere brand is considered an eco-apparel pioneer. "Hyper production and the sheer availability of cheap clothing has made us forget the value of maintaining and repurposing clothes and textiles."
Companies like Yerdle advocate for collective consumerism or a sharing economy, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. Yerdle allows people to offer goods they no longer use to friends, while other companies are focusing on extending the useful lifetime of goods or make them from scrap materials.
Literati.org is on a mission to eradicate litter by crowdsourcing trash pickup, archiving the results in its Digital Landfill, and extracting data to prevent the original littering. As described in the profile in the San Francisco Chronicle, the site is already having a big impact: "The Digital Landfill, now home to more than 12,500 pieces of trash, is crowdsourced cleanup, and because the images are geo-tagged, Kirschner has been able to build a map that shows where each piece of trash was found. This kind of data could not only help raise litter awareness in urban areas but also alert the companies whose products often end up on the ground."
"I feel we have become so desensitized to our surroundings," Kirschner said. "People walk over broken glass or a coffee cup or a potato chip bag and just keep going. I've reached a point where I'm no longer OK with that."
John Diaz explains in the San Francisco Chronicle how human lives are not considered equal in our society: "'All life is precious' goes the oft-repeated saying. But let's be honest with ourselves: In this society the value of a human life in the eyes of others is multiplied or discounted in many ways. One of them, obviously, is class. Another, undeniably, is race. And then there is the other, harder to measure variable that sometimes incorporates, but often transcends, race and class: Our ability to empathize with another human being, and measure his or her worth in ways that have nothing to do with earning potential, number of Facebook friends or volunteer hours at the local food bank."
BountifulChurchyards.org is kicking off an effort to utilize church property to produce food for those without enough.
"The primary Mission of BountifulChurchyards.org, currently in the incorporation and pre-launch phase (formal launch date 01/15/2014), will be to increase access for those facing food insecurity to lands not otherwise available to them, such as churchyards and similar spaces, to raise or glean their own food. A secondary Mission of BountifulChurchYards.org will be to provide employment opportunities for at-risk youth, immigrants, seniors or under-resourced populations."
CatholicTechTalk offers three ideas for using social media to share our faith with others (without being too pushy).
G-Dog ("Nothing stops a bullet like a job"), a movie about Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J. and Homeboy Industries is now available on DVD.
You can also read an excellent in-depth article about Boyle from the May 2012 issue of Fast Company.