Anyone who missed ABC’s Four Corners report “Trashed” last night (07/08/17) can view it here on iview.
I think most people who saw it will be outraged, upset by the corruption and dirty play going on behind the scenes of Australia’s trash management. Upset by those profiting from loose regulations, toothless watchdogs, and the environmental devastation the comes from the practices we saw. Be angry about the wilderness that’s getting trashed, the waterways that are being poisoned, and the water table – the water we drink – being tainted with disgusting leachates.
And I’d like to encourage you to, yes, be upset, and outraged, and mad! But don’t just get mad. I’d like to ask you do something about it.
Why not channel that anger to:
- support stronger powers for environmental protection enforcement agencies
- support higher penalties for those who break the law
- support consistency of regulations across all states and territories
- support the reduction of fees for those doing the right thing, rather than just increasing levies for everyone or those doing the wrong thing. (We have seen how increased costs means more profiteering from illegal activity – because someone is always willing to take the money, and someone is always willing to pay it.)
- support regulations that heavily tax or otherwise reduce the import of new materials
- support laws that favour the manufacturing of local products, with an obligation of having 70-90% recycled content instead of new. (In other words, make it more affordable to use recycled than to use new materials. One of the reasons the glass gets stockpiled is not because it’s not recyclable, and not because there isn’t a need for glass (otherwise, where did all that glass come from in the first place?!) but because it’s more cost effective to use new.)
- speak to your local government, state and federal ministers, policy makers, and anyone who will listen about what you’ve learned and what you want to see happen.
But you can encourage and support policy for better results until the cows come home, but the fact is, that it is a BIG machine, and your real power comes from the things that YOU can control. And much of that policy and regulatory stuff stands outside our control.
What we can control, however, is what WE DO as individuals.
I believe you need to exercise your right to CHOOSE:
- CHOOSE to do what is hard, or inconvenient, to get the better end result. Yes, some of the choices are hard, and the market place isn’t out there to make it easier for you. But it is the area of greatest control that you do have.
- CHOOSE to find alternatives to what you are being told you need by the big manufacturers who are pushing their waste onto you, the consumer, and making that rubbish your fault! (Guess what, it’s only your fault because you’ve not been shown the alternatives!)
- CHOOSE to get educated, do your research, ask hard questions, and get aware of what you are buying, consuming, and throwing away.
- CHOOSE recycled and used products as a first option, or borrow, or make your own, or make due without. Don’t buy new every time. You probably don’t need it.
- CHOOSE to be part of the solution.
Afterall, that waste that is being transported and dumped had to come from somewhere – from a big manufacturer, into a home, into the trash or recycling, and then out of our minds – we think we’ve done the right thing. We think our job is done.
Clearly, it is not.
We can’t recycle our way out of this mess.
I’ve seen up to 9 R’s of waste reduction. There are two that stand out at the top as the biggest game-changers, and they are:
And even though this picture has recycle at the top, think about making it the LAST resort. Don’t be proud of an empty trash bin and an overflowing recycle bin.
If you’re not sure where to start, pick a target thing, and smash it. Like plastic on vegetables. Plastic bags at the checkout. Like too many bottles or jars, or non-recyclable takeaway containers. Whatever it is…
And if you want a little more support along the way, join our 10 Week Bin Transformation program, coming up this September! Learn more about the program HERE.
Author: Andrea Salmond
Andrea has been with Katanning Landcare since 2013 and is passionate about equipping people with the tools, skills and resources they need to make positive changes to our environment.