Mining the earth to produce new products is unsustainable. Mining in
the US is the largest industrial polluter (47% of all industrial toxics
released in 2000; 14 of the top 15 Superfund sites are mines).. Mining in the rainforests
of Africa, Indonesia, and the Philippines is an even bigger nightmare.
At current rates of consumption, all the
world's known supplies of copper, gold and other electronic metals could be
consumed in our lifetime. Before the last landfills are closed, we
may run out of material to put in them.
To meet the expected standard of living for most of
the world's population, we need to reuse, repair, and support the secondary
market. For recycling to become commonplace, we must strive to make it
Nevertheless, this cannot be an excuse to
dump unwanted, unprocessed junk onto poorer countries. For recycling and reuse to
become commonplace, we must do our part to make it affordable, safe, and
New Guinea copper mine, opened 1982. Environmental News Service / BHP