We've become such a throw-away society that most of us don't think twice about purchasing something and discarding it before it has been used up or worn out. In doing so, we completely ignore the impact that the item has on all things natural--from the smallest cell in our bodies, to the vast oceans that cover our planet. I was alerted to a site, Cradle to Grave, that explores the impact. "In this site we will see how our products interact with natural systems from raw material extraction though production and use to disposal or recycling - from 'cradle to grave.' Illustrated by a simple example - a whiteboard marker." It is worth a look, and some reflection.
A book by William McDonnough, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things [745.2 MCD], takes the solution to the product impact problem one step further. Why worry about recycling things when they can be made totally different and "provide nourishment for something new." The book itself is an example.
It is printed on a synthetic "paper" and bound into a book format...Unlike the paper with which we are familiar, it does not use any wood pulp or cotton fiber but is made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers. The material is not only waterproof, extremely durable, and (in many localities) recyclable by conventional means; it is also a prototype for the book as a "technical nutrient," that is, as a product that can be broken down and circulated infinitely in industrial cycles--made and remade as "paper" or other products.
It's amazing what we can do if we put our minds to it!