Imaging there’s no waste (collection), it’s easy if you try…

As an urban Druid, my walks in what people usually term Nature are not as regular as my countryside friends. But humans and all we do are part of Nature so while I might miss the wildness of the cliff top, I still experience the wildness of the town (when not in lockdown of course). It is a different wildness and it is certainly a wilderness, but it is possible one of the most important of all wild places. It is where most of us live.

As I walked through the streets today, my daily exercise regime of alternate walks around the roads and runs along the riverbank interrupted by weather this week, it felt good to be out. I walked past a couple sitting by the side of the road, a couple obviously struggling with life, when the man stood up and threw his empty beer can into the road. This part of town suffers hugely from litte, the couple were obviously not happy souls and I had no intention of saying anything, resolving only to pick the can up on the way back and dispose of it correctly then.

But then I got thinking… which is always a dangerous thing to do!

Our world suffers with waste. The oceans have islands of plastic swirling in them, countries have amazing levels of waste in their rivers sent to them for disposal by richer countries, others have IT equipment dumped from the west. In the UK we burn, landfill or export our waste. The dustmen constantly collect, households sort and dispose, manufacturer wrap and overproduce items with built in obsolescence.

Governments pay lip service to waste reduction. Recycling is seen as good thing, above reuse. And progress on waste reduction at a local level is way too slow; globally it is going backwards.

So my thought: what if there were no more waste collections? What if we moved immediately to an expectation of no waste? Carry on recycling perhaps but stop collecting waste.

It would pile up in the short term but for how long before action was taken? People would rapidly look for low levels of packaging and items that lasted. It would force manufacturers and retailers to think long and hard. It would be messy and painful, but the waste problem is already messy and painful.

What if we simply said no?

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