The Story of Stuff

Over the last twenty or so years of my life I have witnessed an incredible phenomenon.

Both industrially, commercially and privately we as humans, waste A LOT of materials. I am referring to all kinds of materials such as food, fibres, chemicals, water, furniture, metals, wood, money etc. I would also include that most precious of commodities of TIME in this list also. Not to mention the multitude of resources associated with the production of many of these materials.

I mention the last twenty years because I was witnessing waste both in the workplace, then as I traveled and worked overseas and also with dealing and coming to terms with what I can only describe as a first hand experience of hoarders. This latter incident involving my in-laws.

None of it has been well accepted by myself and it’s a struggle to consciously get a grip on the extent of the situation. From local to global extremes the dilemma is all-encompassing it seems.

To get a clear concept of how we got into this mess there is a great short video called The Story of Stuff which I thoroughly recommend. It comes with a warning though. It could alter your perception.

Getting kids involved early in the concept and application of waste minimization. All of these items would have been ‘wasted’. Instead they are being used to make a rabbit hutch.

In my own personal life I have seen huge resources wasted. When my wife and I first moved into our little paradise and consciously addressed some of the waste concerns that arise from day to day living, I was amazed at how easy it was to reduce waste.

We rarely even fill our bin. Food waste is minimised where possible and what is produced is ‘processed’ through our system using primarily animals and composting. I’ve not had a green waste bin for nearly seventeen years. Any green waste is used on the site, wherever I have been living. It is either mulched or put in the chicken yard, buried or composted. It is obscene the amount of green waste that can be ‘consumed’ by a regular backyard garden*. Even newsprint gets digested. It’s not hard, it takes using the right methods and putting efficient and environmentally sound systems in place. Don’t be fooled. Dumping items into the recycling bin or green waste bin may be convenient, but would you really label it an efficient and environmentally sound system?

* Regular backyard gardens are not so common these days as block sizes quickly diminish. This means that there is a likelihood of general household waste increasing with a growing population and a reduction in garden area that is able to deal with green waste efficiently. Sadly, there is the argument that with an increase in subdivisions and smaller block sizes, there is also a reduction in the creation of green waste. This I suspect is in correlation with an increase in the use of concrete products and suburban temperatures heating up.


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