Reducing waste is not my responsibility, I pay my taxes for that!
That’s a load of …
During our zero waste challenge we have seen many news items and accounts of local authorities and individuals trying to do their part to reduce household waste. Most of this has been very encouraging and positive and many significant changes have been seen across the country. It seems however, that not everyone is happy with being a part of this movement and in fact some people have been actively fighting against the efforts to reduce waste. We have read news reports in the UK about some residents abusing and insulting refuse collection operatives and even throwing rotten waste at them, as a demonstration against less frequent waste collections. Some people are actively trying to exaggerate the waste collection problem by deliberately putting rotting material in their bins and adding maggots to make the health problem look worse than it is.
People are very sensitive about waste collection and the associated health risks that they see connected to less frequent kerbside collections. They claim that this move is a step backwards in progress and will lead to the introduction of disease, vermin and festering waste that threatens environmental health as a whole. In all fairness, there is a valid argument to this point of view.
It is a dangerous move to reduce frequency of waste collection without a major public awareness and education program to show people …
- WHY is is so important to accept personal responsibility for waste reduction
- HOW to create less waste by recycling effectively
- WHERE to find local recycling facilities
- WHO to contact for help
These factors must be in place before reducing waste collection, or else we risk more conflict and resistance by people, who still believe that it’s their right to demand someone else take the responsibility for dealing with their waste.
There is need for a major sea-change in attitudes towards waste. We have used the term ‘Throw it away‘ for decades without really knowing or fully understanding that there is NO such place as ‘away’, but that it really means ‘take it somewhere else where I can’t see it or have to deal with it’. ‘Throw it away’ has also become a buzz word in marketing with an ever increasing trend to encourage more consumerism. So far we have succeeded in burying waste and making the term ‘away’ a hidden place under the ground, or in the seas. The fact is that we are quickly running out of space to hide our waste and we have also discovered that the pollution effect of festering food and chemicals in the ground is seriously poisoning our environment. This is no longer scaremongering from a few ‘greenies’, but a stark reality that we can not ignore.
Ideally we must stop the problem at its source. This means significant changes from both manufacturers, packaging methods and most of all, from the consumer. We live in a consumer led market and we need to learn how to make better choices in what we buy, especially in consideration of choosing low packaging and wasting less unused foodstuffs. We have seen in our own waste challenge that better choices in what we buy have a significant effect on what we have to throw away afterwards. Making these consumer choices also sends a message back to marketing and manufacturers that certain ‘eco-friendly’ products are more popular, which will ultimately increase their popularity and reduce prices through demand.
This kind of selective, informed consumerism is essential in the quest to reduce excess food and packaging waste. Knowing how to do this is and setting it in action must precede less frequent kerbside collection.
The bottom line is remarkably simple; it is now everyone’s responsibility to produce less waste. We have proved that it can be done. A 10% reduction is very easy and requires only a basic awareness of using your kerbside recycling facilities.
Start it small, zero waste is the ideal, but not all at once.
If everyone recycled an extra item every day, across the nation this would make a huge impact on waste reduction. It’s a small step, that collectively make a big difference.
We maintain and will demonstrate that much greater waste reduction is possible, even up to 75% less per week simply by selective purchasing and recycling. How far you go is up to you and what facilities you have available. What matters is that everyone makes that choice to become part of the answer in a positive way and not maintaining the old ideals that getting rid of waste is someone else’s responsibility.