Disposing of waste is a personal political act, not a task that we should hand over to others to process.
When we live, as most of the West does, in a highly developed social system where waste is removed from our door and we never have to consider it again (unless the garbage collectors go on strike), then we develop this notion that waste is someone else’s responsibility.
Rubbish protest in Naples, June 2011
We applaud local body organisations that find ways of recycling or minimising waste. We like that fact that local playgrounds are made surface-safe by chopped up old tyres; we like to hear that plastics are rendered into pellets for use in new products; we like to hear that glass is ground down and reused as weed suppressants in wineries.
It makes us feel good to live in a country that has that kind of commitment to waste reduction. The good guys simply take it away.
We’ve stopped viewing rubbish personally
What we forget is that our environmental choices right at the beginning created that waste. Yes – we’re the ones who made it. When councils or local bodies deal with our rubbish we stop feeling any responsibility for it. Yet there are many ways we could individually reduce what goes out to the gate on rubbish day and live a more sustainable lifestyle. It simply needs some creative thinking.
Buying in bulk and using our own re-usable containers, is one option towards a sustainable lifestyle. Buying foods in their near to raw state is another. Why have we become so fixated on consumer products that we think taking a one-use amount of coffee (in a plastic packet), placing it in a coffee maker and chucking out the dregs with the packaging, is cool? Okay, George Clooney makes compelling adverts, but what’s wrong with grinding beans?
Kids often lead the way in environmental recycling
School children in New Zealand are often challenged to create something useful out of waste materials, and some of them come up with innovative re-uses for what others would chuck away. Few adults, however, take their ideas seriously, or see them as the start of a sustainable lifestyle. It’s just too much hard work to think of creative ways to recycle.
I’m no saint in this either. I watch the one-serve cat food tins opened morning and night for our VERY fussy cat and wonder how to recycle them. The nearest I came was to make some spluttering Christmas candles filling them with recycled wax and essential oils. Not one of my successes!
One rubbish recycling success
When we were still using milk from plastic containers, I dramatically reduced the number of bottles going out into the waste one Spring. In fact, I ended up raiding neighbours’ recycling bins for the raw material … . I thought I would share the process with you today.
Love to hear how others have recycled in a way that others (including ME) could take up.
Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author