When I landed my first research job (not merely a contract), it was a summer position with the then newly formed Quebec Public Interest Research Group at McGill University, where I was studying philosophy. I was to research waste management options that could be implemented by QPIRG and the student body. The slogan then was "Remember the 3Rs: Reduce, reuse, recycle" and of course we all tacked on "and of these reducing is the mightiest".

Decades later, it’s the dawn of the Anthropocene, and three has become seven. There is some variation in lists; I’ve seen re-homing, repurposing, rotting, for example. These are the seven we have adopted. Rethinking everything we do is of course a good place both to start and end.

A theatre program’s journey around the wheel.

This month, I’ve been fortunate to have attended the theatre on a couple of occasions. Both times, I went with my good friend S. I’m going to use the papers we were offered as we departed as an example for the 7R Wheel. Rethink. What do I need a programme for? Well, as I happen to create theatre sometimes, I like to read the programme and even on occasion to refer to the information therein. It would be grand if it were online. This is what I think we should be doing generally. So, I do want to read it and in the case of the first show, the programme was offered only after the play, so there was no hope of reading it before and then leaving it for another patron. So, I did rethink. I did still want to read it.
Refuse. I did refuse my copy, and asked S. if I could read hers once she was done with it, so in refusing my copy I in effect reduced the number of programs we would take home by half. Reuse. Well, I will reuse in the sense of rereading, and referring to it as a reference tool. Repair doesn’t seem a fit here. Recover, on the other hand, is. I could in theory recover the prime ingredient, paper, by say making paper machier. I’m not sure whether I can recover the paper in another way since it is printed on both sides. I have to think about that. Recycle. Yup, this I could do. In Toronto we have curbside collection twice a month.

The banner image for this post is of a public domain shot of a dump from the site Pexels. The graphic was made by the author.