I was very excited to read this book because I personally try my best to have as little trash as possible. My roommate and I were cleaning our room last week and literally our garbage was full of plastic. We were pleased because we composted or recycled pretty much everything else, but at the same time it’s frustrating because there’s nothing we can do to prevent it. When food comes in something that can be used for nothing but garbage, wrappers, plastic cups, straws, etc, you can’t live a waste free lifestyle. I mentioned before that I’ve been having a Dan from chartwells bring me organic produce and charging it to my meal plan. I always feel really good when I get 3 or 4 bags of fruits and vegetables, but at the same time there’s so much plastic. Most things are individually wrapped in plastic or has plastic stickers on it. While it might not seem like much, it can really add up, and when you consider how unnecessary it is very frustrating.
I really liked this book because it hit on a lot of points I don’t think people generally think about when it comes to garbage. The book was also filled with a lot of charts that laid things out really well and put things in perspective.
For example, on page 35 there we charts that portray what items are in our landfills and what percentage each item makes up. I must say I wasn’t surprised. Throwaway food containers are definitely a big one, especially for people with on the go lifestyles. The there are other items like clothing or rugs that I wouldn’t have really thought about. Eventually these items do become too run down and have to be thrown away. Since it’s such a necessary thing I never really thought about how problematic it is.
As we discussed in class I think garbage taxes are important, because they will discourage people from throwing away these items too soon. This would then prevent people from buying new items, which decreases the total amount of items that are made.
However, just as we talked about how a dryer is a luxury and we should discourage their use, it’s now always that simple. Deceased demand for items, whether it be to decrease your carbon footprint or amount of trash, can have major implications on the economy. And as mentioned in chapter 4, waste management is a big business in itself, so what happens if we as a nation were able to decrease our waste by even 25-50%. That has huge implications for WMI.
I mentioned earlier that my trash is usually full of plastic and nothing but; I can’t help but wonder what life was like before plastic. Chapter 6 discusses this. I like how he mentions how depressing it is that our natural world is filled with plastic and surrounds us just as it surrounds us in our home. When you look around you can find easily 50 things that are made of plastic, give or take, but we don’t even notice it. Same thing when we’re on a beach or driving down the highway. It’s broken up or thrown aside, and sometimes it just blends in, but it’s there. Side note, after returning from Africa and the Galápagos Islands this was one of the most depressing things about the U.S. everytime I returned. While plastic was still there it wasn’t in nearly as high numbers as it is here.
Chapter 11’s discussion on Portland Oregon was very interesting. It’s exciting that some of the things that just don’t seem realistic can actually be enforce throughout an entire city. The author explains how they’re solutions could potentially make large landfills obsolete, but again we must consider this from an economical standpoint. I would assume this would create jobs as well, so hopefully it wouldn’t actually hurt the economy too much.
Overall I felt like the book did a good job of explaining the dangers and reality of us constantly throwing waste into the garbage, which ends up in landfills, our oceans, etc. However, I felt it didn’t dwell on it too much and offered realistic solutions and steps that can be taken.