Beyond the Curb: Waste me not
The dictionary defines waste as “using something valuable more than necessary in a way that is not effective and does not produce a valuable result or effect.” If we break that definition into chunks, we get to what it really means to us: unsustainable use of our limited natural resources, inequality and pollution. In essence, wasting is not a good thing.
Wasting also affects everyone. It is the consequence of some using too much, leaving others — whether humans, Mother Nature or animals — with too little. The effect of this deficit resonates, permeating through us all.
Wasting is also a “human only” thing. In natural ecosystems, there is no waste; cyclically, what one organism outputs serves as another organism’s input. How come we cannot do the same?
Well, we can. We just need to stop, think and get smarter about it.
To get that process started, Recycle Brevard is launching Waste Me Not Projects (facebook.com/WasteMeNotProjects), a series of projects whose goal is to connect action to reflection and help inspire agents of change.
The first project is happening this November and it is twofold. We are promoting and facilitating the collection of gently-used household items and clothes to help our local House2Home project (action). Then we are hosting a Recycled Art Show featuring artworks created by Brevard County kindergarten through 12th grade students expressing their idea of waste (reflection). To learn more about our upcoming project, go to RecycleBrevard.org.
Others, like Coastal Cloth Baby (CoastalClothBaby.com) owner, Ray Young, made avoiding waste a business practice and reusable solutions the main product sold in her store. The store, located on 5th Avenue in Indialantic, offers items such as high quality cloth diapers and various sizes of reusable snack bags and trash bags. In addition to those products, they offer diaper services and a plethora of baby and mommy products.
“I look to offer natural, unique products made in the USA, preferably locally,” Young said.
Having gone through an Environmental Studies class, Young is conscious about the impact our actions have on the planet. As a strong believer in sustainable practices, she saw the need of a natural parenting boutique when she looked to purchase a baby shower gift for a friend and could not find a place to buy cloth diapers.
“When using disposable diapers from birth to age 3, a baby may contribute up to a ton of waste sent to the landfills,” she said. “I didn’t want my friends to contribute to that.”
And she is right. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that “disposable diapers last centuries in landfills [and] an average baby will go through 8,000 of them.” According to ABC News, “all those dirty diapers amount to a growing mound of waste. The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated about 18 billion diapers are thrown into landfills every year. And a 1998 study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that diapers made up 3.4 million tons of waste, or 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage in landfills that year.”
Despite those numbers, a WebMD article affirms “there are some parents who are convinced that cloth diapers are more Earth-friendly. Experts, though, say the answer isn’t clear-cut [since] research has suggested that both disposable and cloth diapers affect the environment negatively — just in different ways. The American Academy of Pediatrics takes no position on cloth vs. disposable diapers.”
Ultimately, parents, like any of us, are left to make their own personal choice based on what they know, what they prioritize, and how they live and want to live. With all the technology and scientific research, solutions to improve what we do can be found if we seek them. The option is ours: to waste or to waste not. One can only hope we all choose the latter.
Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@3RsAndBeyond.org.