“Human society sustains itself by transforming Nature into garbage.” —Mason Cooley
Last garbage day it was my turn to haul our trash to the curb for pickup. Because we foster cats, we usually have to include a couple of heavy bags along with the regular kitchen garbage because of cat litter. If you’re not familiar with cat litter, it’s main component is clay, and clay is not light! Otherwise, there is nothing really out of the ordinary about our garbage. We recycle where possible, flatten boxes to conserve space, and we have a strict policy of never throwing ‘to the wind,’ so to speak, unwanted plastic bags. Sounds very average—which, of course, we are, so where could there possibly be a problem with garbage in the world today?
Well, individually, we may not see a problem with too much garbage, but multiply that garbage by a few million times, and it’s our environment that has a problem! Where do we put it all? Unless we give this problem some serious thought and stop its growth, our ever expanding garbage dumps will have killed all mammalian and reptilian life forms on earth, and there’ll be nothing left for us but to make our homes on one huge garbage dump—if we can survive living on such an unhealthy environment!
I wouldn’t even want to guess at how much garbage—that’s physical garbage—that the world produces, but according to The Conference Board of Canada, Canadians produce more garbage per capita than any other country on earth, and the Board gave Canada a “C” ranking, and placed it 15th out of 17 on its environmental-efficiency scale.
“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.” —Pope Francis
But, looking at the problem from another point of view, is there any living being, be it plant, reptile, insect or mammal, that doesn’t produce waste? In fact, just the other day I was reading an interesting article where too much hippopotamus poop is killing the fish in some African waters! That hippo poop is waste, not only to themselves, but to the fish occupying the same watery living space!
I have two bird feeders in my backyard that attract dozens of birds to them on a daily basis. Problem is, almost on a monthly basis, I have to get my rake, shovel and vacuum cleaner out and clean up the bird poop that collects on the ground beneath the bird feeders!
Wast! No matter where I look, I can’t seem to avoid having to deal with it!
On the other hand, maybe that’s how our Creator very wisely and efficiently designed His creation. To use a crude expression, “in one end as food, and out the other end as waste!” Another point; it also seems like one species’ waste is another species’ food. A good example of this is the Dung Beetle. Dung beetles are coprophagous insects, meaning they eat excrement of other organisms.
Also another efficient ‘reuser‘ of Nature’s waste is our common housefly. Flies can’t eat solid waste, only liquid, so they have to saturate their ‘food’ with their saliva, which liquefies it, then they suck it up. Unfortunately, flies can also transmit over 65 different diseases to us and to other animals, so we consider them as a pest.
“A food waste reduction hierarchy-feeding people first, then animals, then recycling, then composting-serves to show how productive use can be made of much of the excess food that is currently contributing to leachate and methane formation in landfills.” —Carol Browner
Although we’re latecomers to the world’s reuse/recycle practice, we are making some impressive strides in the right direction. We hear on the evening news how terribly we’re polluting our planet, but the news fails to report the many industries that recycling has created to manage our waste, and the giant steps forward in reducing our waste footprint. China, of course, was the world’s main importer of recyclables from us, but since they’ve tightened their rules as to what they’ll accept, more emphasis is now placed on individual countries like Canada, who used to ship to China, and now have to deal with their own waste.
According to ReportLinker, “The Bureau of International Recycling estimates that the recycling sector employs more than 1.5 million people in the processing of million tons of commodities, with industry revenue topping in excess of $200 billion every year.” That’s impressive! And it also shows that we can be quite ingenious in managing our waste, so looks like, contrary to doom and gloom news reports, we’ll survive for another millennium or two—or three, or ten, or maybe as long as our earth can sustain itself and us.
“Without a doubt, the most ingenious plan I could ever hope to devise would be to trade my plans for God’s.” —Craig D. Lounsbrough