WHY IS WASTE & CONSUMERISM A TRANSITION ISSUE?
Waste is a huge issue in the modern world. It seems that things are deliberately designed not to last; we can’t get things mended when they break, the spare parts costs more than a replacement product; we’re encouraged to think we have to have a constant stream of new clothes and accessories, in this year’s style and colour; we’re bombarded with adverts telling us that we need the latest gadget because it’s slightly more sophisticated than the one we bought last year. Misleading ‘best before’ dates, and our demand for perfection, lead to millions of tonnes of perfectly edible food being dumped every year.
This may help politicians to claim that the economy is growing, so everything’s fine, but it’s a disaster for the planet. All that stuff we throw away used up resources and took lots of energy to produce and to transport to where we bought it. Quite apart from the effect on the climate, shortages of resources can lead to instability, human rights abuse and even war.
Looking on the bright side, the amount of waste produced per person in the UK is actually reducing, and the proportion of waste that is recycled is increasing. It’s not happening quickly enough though. Plus while recycling is better than landfill or incineration, it’s still far more energy intensive and wasteful than re-using and repairing things.
We need to reduce our consumption drastically – there is no Planet B!
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Obviously a total re-organisation of the world economy isn’t going to happen overnight, but as individuals we can massively reduce the amount we consume. We can reject the messages of the advertising industry, re-learn skills like how to repair things, and think about what really makes us happy. Chances are it’s not the latest shiny gadget, it’s more likely to be time spent with friends and family, the scent of flowers growing in the garden, watching young birds learn how to fly, listening to a favourite piece of music …
With all that in mind, Transition Buxton:
- visited the Waterswallows Waste and Recycling facility to find out what happens to our rubbish
- ran a number of ‘swishes’ and clothes swaps
- runs workshops on repairing clothing or re-working clothes that no longer fit
- runs workshops on making toys, gifts and decorartions using recycled materials
- has run cookery workshops with an emphasis on using left-overs and seasonal produce
And of course we created Connie Consumasaurus, our totally rubbish dinosaur, who often joins us at events and is a very visual reminder of the amount of ‘stuff’ we just throw away.