I like to think about what we will have to give up. And when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘me’. To live in harmony and balance on earth. What will I have to give up out of my daily life?
By 2018, if everyone on earth lived like Americans we would have already used up 5.1 earths. That’s not sustainable. So it’s us, it’s me, that will have to change. I will need the structural support of a new circular economy in government and municipal policies because I cannot do this alone.
I try to imagine what in my daily life I would have to STOP doing. Probably I won’t be able to eat snacks like chips: pita chips; tortilla chips; Cheetos. All of those packages (with perhaps insignificant exceptions) are not sustainable. They are made to waste. They ALWAYS end up in a landfill (or *THE OCEAN*). That is not to say that we could not move to some more sustainable way to trade snacks. My neighbor who might be great at baking pita chips could prepare them and I could trade something else with her, in reusable containers. But the idea and the convenience of grab-and-go snacks would disappear, as would the entire snacking industry unless they can figure out a closed-loop system (which they could with the right policies and incentives in place).
What else might I have to give up? All these inflatables we buy. This boat we’ve had for ten years. Seemed like great ‘fun’ for the kids when it was purchased (and it was) but now it has a hole, which I have tried ineffectually to patch a few times. It will not stay inflated for more than 30 minutes. Today it is in my trash bin headed to the dump (for shame!). Where else can it go? This huge sheet of plastic? No one will recycle it. I repeat: NO ONE CURRENTLY RECYCLES INFLATABLES, or Halloween decorations, or toothpaste tubes, or shoes, or, or… Even many of the things we place in our single-stream recycling bin that should and could be recycled are not currently being recycled due to market forces.
We all need to think a little more before we make or buy things. Even the most well-meaning of us, who want to save the earth, often hide under the comfort blanket of ‘it will be recycled’ when that is 100%, not the ongoing reality. Unless you have followed your disposed item to its final resting place, you don’t know where it goes. Most of the things that are made are never made to be recycled, and that is a shame, because with a little more thought and planning they probably could.
Waste is a design flaw.