‘Planet is a dumping ground’
Kingston garbage bag debate is typical of how we view waste, according to a Queen University researcher.
not being discussed is what waste are we producing. Why are we producing this much and what do we do with it? said Prof. Myra Hird, director of the genera Research Group.
Council recently approved a bylaw that restricts the number of free bags of garbage to one a week.
There is no limit on recyclable materials.
are really downstream discussions. We pay taxes and feel we have the right to do this, said Hird. quickly leads to a discussion of people rights. A right to consume what we want and when we want and dispose of it when we want. An upstream discussion is why is our culture and our lives so dependent on consuming and omega watches discarding? has teamed up with Prof. Kerry Rowe, a Queen expert in landfill site design, to conduct a long range study of waste flow in Canada.
danger is we get taken up with these issues and don think about the bigger, more important issues which are our relationship with waste and our ideas about how we treat the planet, she said. planet is a dumping ground. waste diversion policies and the recent public uproar about reducing pickup to one b omega watches ag a week are included in the research.
But the city issues with waste are by no means unique.
project is much bigger than I initially anticipated, Hird said. roads lead to garbage. Waste is just an enormous topic, particularly in Canada, because we landfill most of our waste. said that we view waste in a way that is disconnected from reality.
Municipal waste and recycling operations are efficient, telling us what waste should be placed in which colour of container and when to put it out at the curb.
Then it disappears.
people don know what happens to it, Hird said.
society has done a very good job of taking waste away from visibility. But this means we don think about what that means. We think about the inconvenience of one bag or two bags without looking at the bigger picture. collaborator on the project suggested to Hird that landfills should be in the midddle of cities.
point is, this out of sight, out of mind attitude, she said. we were surrounded by our waste, we might have a different relationship with it. We are encouraged not to care. also interviewed Kingston city councillors about the one bag limit that they narrowly passed in July.
councillors were supportive of moving to a one bag policy. They also were concerned about what the financial bottom line i
Hird says we have an intense and short lived relationship with waste.
For example, we will buy a product wrapped in Styrofoam, which we rip away and discard.
spends very little time in use. A bulk of everything we handle we use pretty quickly and discard them, said Hird. interested in how many products spend their life as garbage. many European countries, incineration is used to dispose of waste because space for landfills is in such short supply.
But even burning garbage poses a problem with the ash that is left over and must be dumped.
not removing the problem of landfilling, she said.
Ultimately, Hird believes, we have to engage in a more serious discussion about how much we buy and throw away.
economy is based on relentless consumption of goods that are discarded, she said.
Hird hopes the study will generate a dialogue that will make people think about their buying habits, just as the one bag limit has done in Kingston.
observation is that discussions of one free bag versus two free bags versus no free bags are important discussions. It clearly where people encounter waste, with a change of policy, she said.
like waste demands an inter disciplinary approach. We know a lot about landfills. We know a lot about toxicity. Science doesn provide the solution. It a social solution we need. It something we need to talk about.