Let’s Talk Trash: Single-use planet?

We all know that nothing lasts forever. The long hot days of summer fade into the dark of winter. Treasured belongings break. Beloved pets pass on.

Despite all this, we sometimes seem to live like the earth’s resources are never-ending.

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Living in a part of the world that boasts an abundance of clean water, access to a diverse buffet of food and inexpensive toys for entertainment, it can be easy to take our precious resources for granted. When we need or even just crave something, we can often get it, and quickly. All this convenience, though, comes at a price.

With more of us on the planet and our increased thirst for more, its limits are being reached, if not surpassed. It has been said that if everyone consumed as much as the average Canadian, we would need nearly five earths to support us. This is the story for many of the so-called developed nations, and is by definition unsustainable.

Nature runs everything in a loop so nothing is wasted. It is an intricate network of exchange where every discard is food for another part of the system. We are now entering a time in our planet’s history where we are being reminded of this truth.

Every resource we extract needs to be replaced. Everything we discard needs to reintegrate into the whole in some way.

How can we be part of this circular relationship with the earth?

Considering how much we consume is a great place to start.  Reducing our impact can start with something as simple as learning to share. We don’t all need one of everything, it turns out.

By reaching out to friends and neighbours, we might find we are a lot richer than we’d thought. We all do this already in an informal sense, borrowing a truck, sharing an excess of fruit, or passing down kids’ clothes. What if this became even more our way of life?

Take a scan of your lifestyle to see where you can close the resource loop. Perhaps it is by:

* Bringing a basket or reusable shopping bag wherever you go

* Investing in reusable water bottle, coffee cup and cutlery set

* Sharing what you have with friends and family

* Creating a “share shed” in your neighbourhood for folks to drop off and pick up items they no longer need

* Building a tiny library for community book sharing

* Hosting a clothing swap

* Donating to thrift stores

* Advocating for (or even starting) a tool library: a lending library for tools rather than books. Great examples exist in many cities across the country.

Ours is not a single-use planet, and tapping into the resource of community can allow us to continue to have many of the same luxuries, while living with a lighter footprint.

Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste-reduction education program.

Copyright © Powell River Peak


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