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Useful And Fantastic: Cutting Waste

A Nobel Prize must go to whoever resolves the fatal contradiction between the economic need to increase consumption to save jobs (and profits) and the environmental need to cut consumption to save the environment and resources for our future, writes Val Yule.

This needs public debate more than anything else. Even the armaments industry is ‘vital for jobs’ but deadly in consequences.

We could halve carbon emissions and save resources if we cut the business of production of waste in all its forms, including planned obsolescence, and stopped throwing things away before they reached their final point of re-use and re-cycling. Half of everything produced in the developed world is waste – either waste in itself, or sent to landfill before it need be.

Halving carbon emission by cutting waste would require two things:
1. Switch to jobs and businesses within a green-society, by all currently holding jobs producing waste, and running firms producing waste.
2. All of us realizing that we are living in a fantasy-land of excess waste. ‘Make Do and Mend’ is for now, not only during a military war that lasted only a few years.

We are slowly realising that little things like plastic bags are destroying the environment. Small things like a full kettle for one cup of tea, and one-trip envelopes are as much signs of our assumption of limitless resources as our economic models assessing the roles of capital and labour in the prices of goods, that do not add in the future cost of our present use of resources.

People can start to implement a new sewerage system that saved human waste for fertiliser, with pee saved for gardens so that it did not need flushing away. Our sewerage system was designed for plentiful water.

‘Australian’ lawns, rather than shaven ‘English lawns’ for most suburban gardens, welcoming flatweeds, brown in summer, unwatered, and using good hand-mowers rather than power-mowers, those great emitters and petrol wasters. A little exercise is a human need.

Exercise can also be gained with twin tub washers for small households.
Clothes need only be washed when dirty – this saves power, water, and clothes. Hand-washing is enough when only 'freshening' is needed, allowing choice of spin-dry with a twin-tub, or drip-dry. Clothes-lines whenever possible, not tumble-dryer, whch did not exist a few decades ago. No ironing..

The jobs lost when some products become unwelcome as ‘consumers’ become ‘users’ instead can be made up for by the many jobs that are needed in a socially-responsible and environmentally-aware society

It is ironic that one great advance through the Industrial Revolution was that it cut the need for labour!

What are your personal thoughts about encouraging people not to waste, by not buying products with built-in obsolescence or fancy standby lights, and not throwing things out to the tip but re-using and recycling instead - and so cutting emissions and saving natural resources?

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