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Allenby thinks of such trends as "dematerialization." The deeper dematerialization goes in society, the less stuff there will be to discard. What's more, as society becomes more information-rich, the easier it will be to find uses for the diminishing amount of discarded materials. Maybe, with the help of brokering services on the Internet, we can generalize the principle that governs garage sales: One person's garbage is another's treasure. When that attitude goes global, the human beings of the third millennium may be able to look back on their former garbage-producing ways as a forgivable error of their youth as a species.
Ivan Amato, a free-lance magazine and radio reporter, is the author of Stuff: The Materials the World Is Made Of