Thursday, January 29, 2009

Words Matter

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Remember that little ditty from your childhood? Of course, by now you've learned it's not true. Words can be very hurtful. Hence, the politically correct movement which sought to find non-offensive terms and make them standard in common speech. Lately, there's been a counter-pc movement; it seems cool to make fun of the effort to be a "kinder, gentler" people. Personally, I support the politically correct movement because I know what a difference words can make.

Lately, I've been noticing a change in "environmental terminology" that I like very much. The word I've been seeing pop up everywhere: Repurpose. When I first came to the green movement, the 3 Rs were the theme song: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. First, you should make every effort to reduce your consumption of resources; buy less, use less. If you absolutely had to have something, rather than buying new, you were to reuse: make repairs to broken items instead of replacing them, use something you already own to serve the purpose instead of buying something new. Finally, if you had an item you really, truly couldn't use -- and no one else could either -- then you recycled it. Only after you had exhausted the 3 Rs did you buy something or throw something away in the landfill.

Nowadays, the word "reuse" has been replaced by "repurpose". How can I repurpose an item? For instance, I can use margarine containers as desk organizers so (1) I don't have to recycle the containers just yet, and (2) I don't have to buy a desk organizer which used costly resources to make. Voila! I have repurposed margarine containers.

Repurpose sounds better, doesn't it? It sounds more deliberate. It's sounds like a choice. It sounds like something I want to do versus something I have to do. It sounds good to me!


  1. Excellent! I totally agree! It sounds so pro-active!

    I'm going to "stumble" this one!

    Take Care!

    Small Footprints

  2. These days, we'll be lucky enough to get people to do anything environmental at all. We don't need to confuse people by changing up words and getting hung up on the slightest of technicalities.

  3. Thanks for the comment. My point was simply that if we can make being "environmental" more attractive to people, perhaps it will encourage them to do so! I don't care what words we use as long as the message gets through!