The Cycle of Waste: Retraining our Minds to Think About Trash
We've been talking a lot about waste over the last month, but what exactly is waste? Waste is anything that is disposed of after use. It could include food waste, textile waste, packaged goods, disposable goods, or used electronics. In 2017, the United States generated about 268 million tons of waste, or 4.51 pounds per person per day. Currently, when we trash something, it goes in one of three directions. It will either go to the landfill, into recycling, or into the incinerator. Trash that sits in our landfills can contribute to soil and water pollution. Trash that gets burned or incinerated runs the risk of affecting our climate as the fumes get released into the atmosphere. Although recycling is still a better option, our current model of disposal is being strained, as the increase in consumerism means an increase in stuff. And if you think you have too many clothes, for example, imagine the countries where some of the most populous places in the world send their hand-me-downs!
Where do you think trash goes? And how much trash do you think our earth can hold at one time? Things like veggies biodegrade in our landfills in about 5 days, but did you know that a glass bottle could take 1 million years to break down? In addition to recycling, we need to develop a reduce/reuse/recycle mentality. This includes reducing what we purchase (those impulse buys, and those things we feel like we have to have), reusing what we can, and recycling the rest. Habits like this will help to limit what hits our waste cycle and keeps good materials out of our landfills and incinerators.
How can we expect to even make a dent in the current environmental crisis? By understanding what's at stake. By retraining our minds to change our habits DAILY. By learning what we can and listening to the trusted professionals speaking on sustainability and climate change. And by doing the work in our own lives and communities to change our planet.
Believe it or not, sustainability isn't as scary as it seems. Here are some resources from our own vault that can get you started on your road to sustainability. And if you have some good sustainable practices already in place, leave them in the comments below.