The more I learn about garbage the more I find myself dashing off in several different directions. The one thing that’s been obvious from day one is that there’s too much garbage. I’m not sure how far beyond that basic fact I’ve gotten. I think we can all agree that anything is better than landfill, (except perhaps for incineration, but that’s a discussion for a future post.) Suffice to say that recycling and composting are better than landfilling. Reusing and re-purposing should always be attempted before discarding AND buying and using less stuff to begin with is the best solution of all. But all of this leads off in many directions.
Recycling is complicated for so many reasons. It tends to lull us into believing that it doesn’t matter how much we use as long as we recycle it, which ISN’T true. Every Materials Sorting Facility has a different set of guidelines on what it can and cannot accept and even within those guidelines discards have to be in a certain condition AND this varies from facility to facility. If you discard some plastic that’s sticky and residuey it can contaminate a whole batch of materials at your local MSF. It makes one begin to feel a bit hopeless, doesn’t it? I don’t want to feel hopeless, but it’s hard to discern the wisest course. Educating ourselves on exactly what is and isn’t accepted, and in what condition, by our local MSF and then adhering to those guidelines is obviously an excellent first step. Composting or contributing to a local composting effort deals with organic waste. But even if everyone did those two things, we would still need to think about how much we’re consuming.
Then there’s the question of packaging and whose responsibility it is to deal with all of the packaging and how much waste is involved in the production of those things we’re consuming. What if every toothbrush you use actually represents 20 times as much refuse in its production? And what about e waste, a whole new category of garbage that isn’t actually all that new? And then there’s the effect all of this stuff is having on the countries to which it is being shipped in greater and greater quantities. I never used to think about what happened to my laptop when I was finished with it, or my cell phone, which is designed to last about a year, which brings me to planned obsolescence. Perhaps you can see why the blog might begin to seem a bit unfocused. It is that there are just so many things to focus on. So, instead of trying to manage the unmanageable, I’m going to start categorizing posts by what I see as the main subject. Of course there will be lots of overlap, but you can bring up info on recycling or composting or product packaging by clicking on the that category name under a given post. That way I can follow where the research leads without feeling like I’m all over the map. The map will have a map so to speak.