One man’s trash is another man’s treasure- this may never have been so true than in the 21st century. We literally sell our garbage to developing countries that use it as a vital resource for survival.
The inconvenient truth about waste is that we are producing too much of it. Couple this with the fact that we’re running out of places to hide it and we find ourselves on the brink of a serious environmental problem. I write ‘hide it’ because in the Western world, the most problematic issue we have with household waste is our weekly attempt to not forget to take it out.
This weeks readings had to do with environmental decision making and waste management in developing countries. At first glance unrelated, these readings correlated by the fact that waste management in developed nations has externalities that affect life in developing ones. We have much to learn about the decisions we make regarding waste; for example, what is waste and how much of it can be reused, reduced, and recycled? In an article about waste being used as a vital resource in developing countries, we are taught how much of our waste is put to good use. This article is the critical example that what we throw away is a vital resource that we are wasting.
After a quick read, I realize how twisted it is that we throw most of everything that passes through our households away. I am a believer that in thirty years, we will look back on the century we threw and buried our garbage with disgust and confusion to why we would ever do that.
Something that caught my eye this week in our course readings and notes is the idea of alternatives in environmental decision-making. When looking at the system of landfills, we have been given no alternatives. As an environmentalist, I know that governments have been given the opportunity to finding better ways of dealing with waste and recycling. Through legislation and new technologies, and by learning from waste management issues in developing countries, we can study where we can improve.