It amuses me to read statistics on global generation of waste – simply because the phrase “waste generation” is such an oxymoron!
Generating or producing waste implies intention. It means there is is vision and plan behind it. To generate waste means to want it for a particular purpose. However, the reality is that waste is an embarrassing flaw in the system of managing resources – and ourselves, actually.
In nature most substances that come as a side-effect of biological processes soon find their way into other biological processes. The substances that cannot be absorbed accumulate gradually and transform into habitats or reserves.
We should drop the word “generate”, and just say “wasting”. That’s it: wasting, period. Humans are wasting everything they come in touch with. Who doesn’t know this powerful short animated film:
We can turn around the phrase “generating waste” and describe ourselves as “wasted generations”. Don’t you think that whole generations are being wasted nowadays? You know: squandered. Not just generations of human beings, but also those of animals and plants. We are wasted in order to feed the sheer madness of economic growth.
When I look around I don’t see progress and growth, I see is congestion and stress – in a shiny package. More trucks on the road, more planes in the sky, more tankers on the sea, more shopping malls where there used to be forests and fields, more smoke, more asphalt, more plastic … wasting, wasting, wasting …
Trucks and planes don’t carry better goods and better people. They carry waste in more and more efficient packages. (Efficient meaning deceptive.)
Throughout history package was more valuable than the content. Picture an embellished casket, a decorated flask, a painted vase … they all survived many generations of content. For the first time in history package is so depreciated and devalued.
But that’s the only thing our civilisation is generating! Packaging sells contents (even empty or lousy contents). Walking through the forest is transportation without any package, flying in the first class suite on a luxury plane is transportation within a lot of packaging.
The richest people on planet are the best wasters. The better they are at wasting, the more goods and people to waste they’ll be accumulating. That’s how economy works.
And the pinnacle of economy is creating waste directly from waste.
99% of our economy is throwing shit in the air.
Here’s my analogy for this: Long time ago some farmer started to throw shit in the air. Lo and behold! More shit fell from the air than what he threw up. Before he knew it, he had two piles of shit where he used to have only one. All the farmers in the neighbourhood saw this and started doing the same. Soon, nobody cared about farming any more! Creating shit from shit itself was all that mattered.
Traditional banks and stock markets are getting more and more competition in creating shit from shit itself. Current cripto-currency frenzy is shit frenzy, really.
All this inflation of “value” will fuel further inflation of packaging in all forms: bigger and fancier flats (packaging for our lifestyles), vehicles (packaging for our transportation), shopping malls (packaging for acquiring provisions), schools (packaging for education), etc.
Strip global economy of all the fancy clothes, and embarrassing void will stare you in the eye.
Preservation of content
There are two basic prerequisites to bringing an end to all wasting:
1. make packaging precious, durable and harmless (again)
2. (re)build economy on real content
Content is what we actually “consume” to meet our needs: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Air, water, food, and drinks, company of people and other living beings, moving through environments and landscapes, safety of enclosed spaces, handy tools, art, and love.
When you experience content without packaging and taste it fully, you want more of it. Packaging becomes an obstacle to experience so you apply it only when necessary.
Packaging has good uses: to conserve the content, to protect it, embellish it. The packaging should become more beautiful and valuable as it ages. We all cherish this kind of packaging.
Such packaging is content too. It is generated with intention, with clear purpose in mind; there isn’t a tinge of wastefulness in it. Only such a packaging does justice to its service of “conserving content”.
Our civilisation, sadly, is depreciating and wasting both packaging and content. All it wants is more shit flying through the air.
So, redesigning the content and the packaging can happen only if we redesign the essence of our worldview. All the waste in the environment is the symptom of our disease. We have to cure the disease at its root to heal it for real.
To get a good sense of the root, however, we have to get a good whiff of obnoxious symptoms — go out there and see the their extent. We have to become aware of our trash blindness. We have to get out there, touch it, pick it up and sober up.
If you agree, get the trash mapping app and add your piece to the mosaic. wherever you are!
Wasted generations have the blessing of global problem being so huge that we don’t have any other choice but to solve it once and forever. Let’s do it!