My associate and ZW booster in Natick Massachusetts, Dick Miller contributes this example of how simple redesign can avoid more wasting than any amount of recycling.
Dick was instrumental in getting the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Management (now, Dept. of Conservation and Recreation) to pave the parking lot at Walden Pond with an alternative to the usual asphalt. You remember Walden Pond, site of a famous, early experiment in spare living by Henry David Thoreau. It remains a busy, international pilgrimage location in suburban Boston. The usual asphalt material typically lasts 15 years in New England’s high rate of freezing and thawing, then becomes so cracked and patched that it needs to be demolished. It would then be taken to a dump or asphalt recycler and the parking lot repaved.
Dick got Massachusetts to put in a then-new porous asphalt which allows water to pass through it. Instead of causing destructive runoff into flooded streams and gullies, this asphalt allows the water to percolate through, into the ground, to recharge the aquifers below.
As of this writing (2010) 33 years later, despite never having had the recommended maintenance, the asphalt is still in good shape and has never needed replacement. I don’t know why it lasts so long, or how long this experiment will run, but you can find out more by going to this link or this link at Dick’s website.