I did it before and I will do it again. Give garbage a voice that most don’t want to hear. Because it stinks, it really does. Before my official coronation as the queen of doom, here are the facts.
I am preparing a presentation for the boys’ school for this coming Friday. Exciting but upsetting at the same time. About garbage. About how much we produce – 31 million tonnes a year, give or take – about how we don’t recycle enough and about what can be done. It’s shocking, isn’t it? There are 34.5 million of us making a mess we really should not. Not that big anyway. We live in the days of disposable everything.
It’s a disposable planet, and that’s how we should first think of it. Every part of it that we chop to make something out of – something that will get thrown out, that is - is a part of the planet that gets destroyed. The irony is that the planet gets back the part, minus the usability of it because it is, after all, regurgitated stuff. Even that would not be too bad, you could say, it will at some point disintegrate… Not so, not very soon and some stuff close to never. Eternity becomes one crappy concept, no pun intended whatsoever.
Because here’s the kicker: We take resources, make them into non-recyclable products with a limited shelf life – because everyone knows by now that cradle-to-grave items are the death of wealth through incessant marketing – and then when they break down we throw them out. The garbage truck takes them away and away they go. But the trip is short. The landfills seem to be some mythical creatures with bottomless stomachs where we deposit our garbage only to be eaten away and hence disappear forever. As if.
Stuff doesn’t go anywhere. It stays on this planet. It’s compacted and placed in cubicles that are then buried nicely and covered with dirt, enough to become a meadow of some sort of even some bushy terrain. No sign of the undead unless you count the occasional leakage. Yes, stuff oozes out and from what I’ve read it is not pretty. How could it be, it’s garbage. That’s why we are throwing it out after all, right?
Methane gas produced by garbage can be captured and used as fuel. Nice and dandy but that still does not address the actual problem: the increased amounts of garbage choking life as we know it. Just like recycling does not truly address the problem of over-consumption.
What to do? Buy less, buy quality, resist upgrading if your life does not depend on it, recycle, compost, buy used and breathe cleaner air. Because what you throw ends up in your body as water or air at some point anyway.
We are what we eat and we are what we throw out.