“The price of everything and the value of nothing” wrote Oscar Wilde: a modern disease. Price is such a curious attribute. An economist will tell you that any item’s price is merely what someone is prepared to pay for it. In a sensible system, you might imagine this should be tied to the cost to produce an item, but this is not always so, and it is often not simple. So called “hidden costs” are a feature. In a world that is geared to support business, it is politic to spread the burden far and wide. If a factory is built on a green field, is the true cost of the loss of that field merely the price of the land? Maybe the field will be an industrial site, and not green, for a thousand years: how could you put a true cost to that? You could find the cost of clearing the site and returning it to its former ecosystem (assuming all the species were still “available”) but that still would not cover the cost to the generations who had been denied it. Which brings us back to where we started and the question of value: he was a clever bloke, that Oscar.
Would reusing packaging be better than recycling? I recall a time when many bottles (pop, beer, milk) were reused. I expect arguments against based on economics and logistics. Isn’t this where we expect governments to show their worth and work for the good of all? If there was a standard set of jar and bottle sizes to make them interchangeable, worldwide, across many suppliers and products wouldn’t that solve much of the logistical problem? So the same jar might contain Scottish jam one week, French pickle next, and Australian peaches after. Too much transport? Surely, that just encourages us to use local produce or pay the price: even more ecologically sound.