That fork will finish out its utility, useless, buried in a landfill. Whereas, I could have used it forever.
As I go back and read this it feels like a bit of rant, but it isn’t intended to be. I hope you glean from it the importance of taking responsibility for your actions and choices
I knew this would backfire on me at some point. I let a friend borrow my fork and he threw it away. I know it wasn’t his intention, but it happened and now that fork that would have otherwise been used forever will be in a landfill forever. I know this is hard to comprehend, but it is the reality. And I know many of you who are reading this are wondering why I am so worked up about a fork, but that isn’t the point. The point is, we as a society have been made to believe that life is disposable. That everything can be thrown away and that everything should be thrown away to make room for new things.
It is important to note that I understand that I have this privilege and that many people do not, but the main point is the same. I choose to buy durable goods that can be reused over an over again. In doing so I am helping the environment and saving money. Yes, when you make environmentally-friendly decisions you often save money.
I wish more people cared. I think most people say they care but don’t do anything different. This reminds me of that, “I recycle,” argument I hear far too often. Yeah, you throw your water bottles into a recycle bin and call it a day. That’s nice, but what actually happens to those water bottles once the garbage man has picked them up? Where do they go and what do they get recycled into? Heck, do they actually get recycled? Only 34% of material in the United States gets recycled or composted which means that there is a good chance that the materials you throw into recycle bins won’t actually be recycling.
Think if we lived in a world where we created no trash or recycling? What would the impact be? Without garbage trucks to haul our materials away they wouldn’t be out of sight and out of mind. What this means is that we would have to take ownership of all of our materials. We couldn’t simply throw them away and wash our hands of them. Think if we lived in a world where we had to dispose of all of our material on our own. We would probably care a lot more and create a lot less waste.
I feel really guilty when I throw away anything, but especially when it goes into a recycle bin. I find myself wondering why I came into contact with that material to begin with and what I could have done differently to have avoided it.
Less waste and recycling means fewer garbage trucks on the road and fewer garbage trucks means:
- Less noise
- Less pollution
- Less traffic congestion
- Less money spent on utilities
Think of all the resources that would be saved and environmental impact that would be promoted by taking a garbage truck off the road.
Most of climate change is hard to quantify and I don’t mean to oversimplify it, but every time you avoid creating material, whether it is trash, recycling or compost, you are contributing to removing garbage trucks from the road.
Yes, there is the argument that garbage trucks run on natural gas, so they are clean burning, but where do you think that natural gas came from? It was extracted from the ground, which uses up quite a bit of our resources to do. The best way to have an impact is to avoid these materials to begin with.
About the author:
Jonathan Levy is a environmental consultant who focuses on developing and implementing zero waste plans for businesses and municipalities. When he is not consulting, Jonathan is a blogger and social media influencer as Zero Waste Guy, where he shares tips and tricks for living a zero waste lifestyle.