Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not Wednesday Challenge

Have you started to notice that with the challenges we have set forth that many activities fall into multiple days? Well, yes, there is reason for that. So many things within sustainability are intertwined, just as nearly everything within our ecosystem is intertwined.

So yes, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday is similar to 3Rs Saturday as they both involve the sustainability concepts of reducing our consumption.  Reducing is the key with Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, more than Saturday which also encompasses recycling and resuing.

The fact is that American's consumption is literally off the charts, we just keep on consuming and consuming, when in fact we probably have all we will ever need.  It's an obsession.  Is it really more "glamorous" to drink out of a plastic water bottle, rather than using a glass or reusable bottle?  Or that much more "convenient" to use a ziploc baggie for lunch everyday when a reusable plastic container or lunch sack would work just fine?  What is the psychology around all of this?  Is it that American's feel "entitled" to not have to use something twice - forbid we might have to wash something out, rather than grabbing a brand new container or product. 

That reminds me of this powerful poster I found on Pinterest sometime ago.  The poster was created by Max Temkin. Find the pin on Pinterest here.

Additionally, this article by the brilliant Bill McKibben (founder of 350.org) really says it all about consumption in AmericaSo, for this week on WNWN Wednesday, I will share with you an excerpt from an article he wrote on Waste Not Want Not.  Take the time to read the article in its entirety if you have time, if not, here is the meat of it:

Plastic water bottles, one after another—80 million of them get tossed every day. The ones I'm stomping down are being "recycled," but so what? In a country where almost everyone has access to clean drinking water, they define waste to begin with. I mean, you don't have a mug? In fact, once you start thinking about it, the category of "waste" begins to expand, until it includes an alarming percentage of our economy. Let's do some intellectual sorting:

...Americans discard enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet every three months—and aluminum represents less than 1 percent of our solid waste stream. We toss 14 percent of the food we buy at the store. More than 46,000 pieces of plastic debris float on each square mile of ocean. And—oh, forget it.
These kinds of numbers get in the way of figuring out how much we really waste. In recent years, for instance, 40 percent of Harvard graduates have gone into finance, consulting, and business. They had just spent four years with the world's greatest library, some of its finest museum collections, an unparalleled assemblage of Nobel-quality scholars, and all they wanted to do was go to lower Manhattan and stare into computer screens. What a waste! And when they got to Wall Street, of course, they figured out extravagant ways to waste the life savings of millions of Americans, which in turn required the waste of taxpayer dollars to bail them out, money that could have been spent on completely useful things: trains to get us where we want to go—say, new national parks.....
...In the end, we built an economy that depended on waste, and boundless waste is what it has produced. And the really sad part is, it felt that way, too. Making enough money to build houses with rooms we never used, and cars with engines we had no need of, meant wasting endless hours at work. Which meant that we had, on average, one-third fewer friends than our parents' generation. What waste that! "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers," wrote Wordsworth. We can't say we weren't warned.
The economic mess now transfixing us will mean some kind of change. We can try to hang on to the status quo—living a Wal-Mart life so we can buy cheaply enough to keep the stream of stuff coming. Or we can say uncle. There are all kinds of experiments in postwaste living springing up: Freecycling, and Craigslisting, and dumpster diving, and car sharing (those unoccupied seats in your vehicle—what a waste!), and open sourcing. We're sharing buses, and going to the library in greater numbers. Economists keep hoping we'll figure out a way to revert—that we'll waste a little more, and pull us out of the economic doldrums. But the psychological tide suddenly runs the other way.
We may have waited too long—we may have wasted our last good chance. It's possible the planet will keep warming and the economy keep sinking no matter what. But perhaps not—and we seem ready to shoot for something nobler than the hyperconsumerism that's wasted so much of the last few decades. Barack Obama said he would "call out" the nation's mayors if they wasted their stimulus money. That's the mood we're in, and it's about time.

I would love to hear your thoughts and activities surrounding Waste Not Want Not Wednesday.  Share your comments below this blog post or head on over to The RMOG on Facebook at www.facebook.com/the.rmog.


Next Up Tomorrow for the Be the Change Eco-Challenge: Test it Out Thursday

McKibben, B. (2009, May). Waste not, want not. References http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2009/05/waste-not-want-not

1 comment:

  1. I've always loved that plastic spoon poster, have you ever seen the edible plastic spoons? http://triangletree.com/index.php/industrial_design/edible-spoon/ Not sure of the LCA (life cycle) beyond the making of the spoons but seems like a great idea :)