As I walk towards the waste basket with my plastic water bottle and banana peel, I wonder: where will this actually end up? Most people know the garbage man drives by your home once a week and empties your bin into his truck. Where does the driver go next? He goes to empty his truck at a landfill: a steamy heaping mound of trash. Soon, when the waste mound gets too high, it is covered, and another steamy collection of waste is started somewhere. And this continues. And you can image what would happen if we continued to generate and dispose of waste this way: the world would become a giant waste basket.
What are the solutions to this environmental problem? What are ideas for becoming more environmentally responsible?
One solution would be reducing the volume of goods thrown into the waste basket–to recycle and reuse goods. Thus is solution 1: from raw to recycled. It’s the ideology that we should convert from using raw materials to recycled ones. We should stop mining for raw materials and strictly use the billions of tons of material and resources already produced. We should recycle.
Instead of buying a new dresser, buy one from a thrift store. Instead of being a new blender, use the blender your sister is throwing away. There are a plethora of ways to buy used things these days: Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, and loads of apps.
This idea does not come with it’s involuntary antagonists. What about the pollution associated with recycling something? Have factories and manufacturers innovated processes that make recycling carbon neutral? Will solar panels or windmills offset the pollution generated by recycling? Solar panels and windmills also use raw materials. But is it a good investment to manufacture a product that will eventually offset the pollution produced to assemble it? I think so.
Well what if we did one even better? Instead of recycling, we just reduced our consumption? That’s better than recycling. Thus is solution 2: from recycled to reduction. It’s the ideology that we should reduce the amount of things we buy and consume. Imagine just pausing the world of production and mining for a few months, and we just had to live off what already existed. What would happen? Something bad probably at first. But, to me, the wild ideas always are most appealing.
What about GDP? Will the whole world crumble in an economic earthquake if we stop making new products and just use old ones? How will the job market be affected? Will unemployment rates increase? Or will the economy naturally shift towards different careers that would be created? What if we measured economic growth using GPI instead of GDP? Maybe we would see better quantitative indicators of economic success and fiscal and monetary policies could retreat back to their burrows for six more weeks.
Information gives birth to awareness gives birth to responsibility. We are responsible for the knowledge we have. If we have knowledge of climate change, let’s make strides to dream about solutions to the problems.
My environmental mission is similar to my dream job company’s mission: to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis. It is to make a big impact on the environmental crisis and to make history doing it.