Check out: The Secret Life of Garbage
I am not a fan of tagging. Whether it’s on animals in the wild or children just entering school, attaching electronic devices so we can keep track of their movements is creepy. I’m sure it’s all well intentioned and we have the trackee’s interests at heart, but have you seen the tags they stick on bears? And the wiring of a dolphin just seems barbaric. It’s for a worthy cause (like with the Swainson’s hawk story in the bear link above), no doubt, but I’m not sure the bears and dolphins feel that way about it.
This here garbage tracking thing is different. It’s valuable. Despite the fact that tagging trash could be seen as an invasion of one’s privacy, I’m all for it. Fact is, the amount of crap we’re disposing of these days is frightening. We’re drowning in refuse.
We have so much garbage we are fast running out of places to dispose of it. Actually, though, it’s not that we as humans are running out of places for waste disposal. There’s plenty of pristine mountainsides and virgin deserts to be exploited, abused, and then paved over. Unfortunately as our population continues to increase, we’re going to need those places to live in someday. Besides that fact, though, there are all the animals that live now in those pristine areas. They kind of need the space and they were there first.
The problem we have with escalating waste is two-fold. First, there are almost 7 billion of us. Although the rate of population growth has slowed, we are still increasing and the current plan is to have “9 billion of us by 2050”. Woohoo. I hate parties where nobody shows up. (Hopefully, the Singularity will have hit by then and half of us will be tucked into our virtual reality cracker boxes, but that’s beside the point.) Second, and more important, the industrialized countries have a very efficient packaging industry that results in tons of waste materials that are neither recyclable nor reusable. The upshot is that not only are there more of us making garbage, but the quality of that garbage is down the tubes (so to say).
Reducing the population will solve only half the problem. We also need to figure out what to do with our non-biodegradable trash. Assuming that methods for reuse/recycling of Styrofoams, plastics, and other space-age polymer composites will be found, we can assume these problems will be solved eventually. Which brings us back to the tagging of our trash. A tagging process to keep track of who’s dumping what and where will be required to ensure we’re all compliant with the latest best practices. Legal procedures will be coming down the pike as a result of those practices. Oh, there will be laws you can bet on that. Not only will they ensure proper disposal and appropriate respect for the garbage separation rules, but disobeying them will result in fines. The money will be a source of income for our impoverished municipalities. Cities will soon be flush (so to say).
It’s all good.
Sue Lange’s bookshelf at Book View Cafe