Eyes Wide Open – Third Installment – Do we Need Garbage Police?

My brother lived in Australia on assignment with Exxon.  He loved it there and would tell me often about how much he liked the simpler lifestyles.  They had a small fridge that would only hold a day or so’s food, so they shopped almost every day picking up something for dinner and to replace vegetables and bread.

He also told me of the garbage collection there.  If you fail to recycle correctly, they give you a warning, and if you persist they stop picking up your garbage.  That will teach you!

We see recycle bins everywhere these days, but how much do they really get used.  Plus, even if that trash gets recycled to the collection center, how much actually is recycled into other things?

According to the EPA, Americans generate more than 267 million tons of solid waste every year. In 2017, only 94.2 million tons of that waste was either recycled or composted. That’s only about 35 percent of the total amount, and when you take into account that only 8 percent of discarded plastics were recycled that year, things start to look more unsettling.

Clearly, we have a long way to go.  But, once again, are we asking the right questions?

Did you know that bottled water ranked as the largest beverage category by volume in the United States?  The sustained growth in per capita consumption indicates that consumers see bottled water as a healthy alternative to other packaged beverages. In 2019, per capita of bottled water consumption approached 44 gallons in 2019, while average intake of carbonated soft drinks dipped below 37 gallons.

You no doubt know that bottled water is not any healthier than the water you get from your tap.  You also probably have seen customers in your market and especially at Sam’s leave with cases and cases of bottled water.

It also seems terribly ironic to me to see cases of bottled water sitting outside in the sun at gas stations.  We all know that the chemicals in those plastic bottles is leaching out into the water.

What is my point in all this?  Our drinking water in this country is excellent … in the vast majority of cases.  Stop drinking bottled water!  Not because of the water itself, but because of the waste you are producing.  It is not being recycled.

I hope you have been following the circularity movement.  They are focused on our food and water supply and working with large corporations to reduce waste associated with food packaging as well as the end-to-end food sustainability questions we all face.

There is a lot going on in this space, but I fear most of it is the same kind of greenwashing the movie Planet of the Humans talks about.


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