Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rubbish Report // Monthly Trash Total

So my month long Zero Waste Challenge is over and the results are in: 97% Diversion

And while I should be celebrating I'm left thinking that diversion is a poor measure of how we are really doing. What diversion doesn't account for is the most important R in the recycling hierarchy: REDUCE.

While working at an event the other day, I was talking to a young mother about where she could recycle her plastic bags and film plastics. She mentioned that most families with children were more likely to throw it out than return it to depot. And its true a third of the waste I generated this month needed to return to a depot including a huge (!) bag of film plastic, refundable beverage containers and light bulbs. And maybe it's my naive single childless self that is so troubled by this concept of doing what is easy rather than doing what is right when it comes to children. I think childhood is such a wonderful opportunity to teach good stewardship habits. To learn the basics of reduce, reuse and recycle. To question whether we really need something in the first place and consider what will happen to it once we are finished with it.

Because at the end of the day there is no away. Our waste (whether it be garbage or recycling) does not simply disappear. Future generations will be left to deal with the legacy of our waste, other countries are already facing the hardships of "recycling" that is deemed to have little or no value in North America. Our children and grandchildren will faced with decisions on how to fund future landfills or waste to energy projects as our current landfills reach capacity. And that seems to me a huge burden to have to bare.

So what can we do?

  • Get your 5Rs right: Refuse what you do not need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse what you consume, Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, and Rot (Compost) the rest. 
What do you do on a daily basis to reduce your waste?

San Juan La Union during our mural painting event, showing the local groms the importance of keeping our beaches clean

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