O'Neill: "This is such a good a question because it forces us to think about so many aspects of a products life. First of all, appropriate for reuse is in the eye of the beholder you never know what someone might want a grungy old couch for (a bed for their Great Dane? a lounge for an auto mechanic shop?). Youd be surprised what people will jump at on Freecycle.org, the community Web-based equivalent of putting a free sign on that couch curbside. If one of its 3,000-plus user groups doesnt cover your geographic location, start up one yourself in a mere 30 seconds. If it really is so nasty that even the Freecyclers turn their noses up at it, off to the landfill it must go. The moral of the story? Its important to think about durability and end-of-life issues at the point of purchase; how long products last and what happens to them in their afterlife (can they be dissembled for parts or recycled; will their pieces biodegrade?) are part of their true cost.
(George Rizer/Globe Staff)