Thursday, June 11, 2015

Garbage


Why do we take it for granted that everything that we consume must be eventually thrown away in the trash? There is a consensus of the life and death of products in our lives: Everything is created in a factory, goes through an intermediary of uses in our lives, and then gets thrown away, and the cycle continues on and on. Everything is born and dies, just like human life. And just like human life, resources of burial (הטמנה) are growing scarcer; the burial (הטמנה) itself is harmful to the water, the air, and therein harmful to all of life on Earth.

I bought lemonade today in a plastic cup in downtown Jerusalem. I keep forgetting not to do that, until the cup is in my hands and I realize that I just created more waste. The habit of creating waste and encouraging modern consumerism is our daily routine; it's so deeply rooted in our every mundane action. Even if everything recyclable was recycled and everything compostable was composted, we would still be using a lot of energy and space for these processes. And we all know that hardly any stores and restaurants recycle and compost. For instance, all the food left over on the plate at the restaurant gets thrown into the green bin with all the other trash people throw in, it gets driven to the Negev desert, buried in a landfill, inside plastic bags and among other sorts of materials, rots and releases methane gas, which is toxic.


I compost all organic waste, I consume near to zero products that aren't food (on the rare occasion of buying clothes it's at second-hand stores), reuse and recycle as much as possible (I don't use any plastic bags, except - unfortunately - the ones that pasta or lettuce come in), and I still sadly do have about a shopping-bag amount of garbage to throw out once a month. I know it's possible to live in a way that will create zero waste. Everything can be reduced and reused. What is bought in plastic bags can be bought without (even vegetables like mushrooms and lettuce, which generally are sold in packages or bags, can be found without these, when bought in open markets or organic stores).

I think this issue is of paramount importance, because it comprises in it the cycle of creation and death itself of all matter on Earth. In nature, nothing is wasted. Everything is reused, everything has a purpose. Frankly, we humans are slowly but surely destroying the Earth, and ignorantly passing on this culture of destruction generation after generation.

I keep thinking of the environmental disaster the majority (or all) of the population is responsible for, and I get more and more anxious to change the situation. My next studies will hopefully be education and environmental studies, and I already have all sorts of ideas to try to raise awareness and teach the public about the environment (such as educational programs for teachers, who will then be able to teach their students about these issues). I feel like this is almost hopeless. Too few people are environmentalists while too many people are consumerists.

There is a handful of people who don't create waste; who live simply; who don't consume what they don't need. But that is amidst a roaring ocean of billions of people who regularly consume and throw away every single thing they buy (most of which they don't even need). The animal industry is of course also very wasteful of resources and creates environmental chaos, and food in general is the most toxic when thrown into the landfills.

I think we should all start now, by trying to minimize (to nothing) the garbage we produce, trying to resist the notion that everything must be thrown away. Nothing has to be thrown away, nothing SHOULD be thrown away. If we are throwing so much out, something is wrong here.





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