Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mother Earth or Garbage Disposal?

The topic of trash disposal and our habits of consumption specifically as Americans is overwhelming.  There are pictures on the internet that reveal mountains of trash in third world countries and I cannot resist my beliefs that we are the ones producing it.  Plastic bottles, glass bottles, food waste, paper materials and other municipal items all collect and pile up on top of one another until there is no more space.  When we need more space, essentially for more trash, we burn what we’ve already produced seemingly thinking that it will disappear like a magic trick –but it does not.  The toxins contained within the waste simply leak into the air, taking shape of another form.  When the trash is not burned, it is transported to faraway places and dumped.  Where is the environmental justice in that?  Our consumption is a toxic, destructive and vicious cycle and I am guilty as charged.

Working at a restaurant we are forced to throw out an abundance of material.  From receipts to food to napkins to water to plastic straws to paper placemats the list goes on and on.  I cannot help but think how can I make this better and what simple ideas can I propose to my manager to try and make things a little less wasteful?  I always voice my opinion and constantly get feedback like, “tree-hugger” or “hippie.” Little do my partners know or care about the GIANT environmental impact we make, but can prevent.  Since I have to stay in line with my requirements in order to stay employed, I started to take matters into my own hands.  I began by collecting my receipts in my apron so that I could recycle the paper once I get back on campus, I also started to wash out the ketchup bottles (since you cannot reuse them), and place them in the bin with the recycled bottles.  When a customer wants a box for their food, it is regulation to give them a plastic bag along with it… I break the rules and hand them a lone box.  I know I can do more by convincing others to do with me.

Story of Stuff
This short film was a lifetime of information packed into twenty minutes.  There is a laundry list full of facts that I pulled from this short film and more than I can say for a lot of documentaries and films that I have viewed.  The illustrations and narrative helped capture and keep the viewer’s attention so that they facts sunk in deeply.  The animation was even humorous at points.  For example, when describing the government in comparison to large corporations, a man (representing government) was fixed on his knees shining the larger man’s (representing corporation) shoe.  The viewer was revealed through demeaning humor, that well, large corporations dictate our government.  Although, it is corrupt, that our government is bending over backward to make large corporations cooperate, the notion is true. 

The Story of Stuff was talking about American consumption specifically and I believe that these facts stuck with me so heavily for that reason alone.  I am an American and I do consume.  After watching this film, I no longer wanted to be or do either.  The fact that if everyone in the world consumed resembling an American, we would need three to four planets to sustain us, the fact that 5% of the world population consumes 30% of its resources, the fact that less than 4% of our nation’s forest are left over, the fact that one-third of the worlds natural resources are gone forever, never to be seen or used again is a scary reality.  I mean, no wonder our happiness rate is declining rapidly; we produce more trash than happiness – 4.5 pounds a day more.

No Impact Man
 I’d like to refer to this movie as no impact family.  I thought that this film was a creative and curious experiment that revealed true effort.  The way that this particular family lived for a year was in no way realistic to today’s day and age, but it was telling of their carbon footprint and I think that was the goal of the project.  Their attempt to make no impact allowed them to take a step back and think before they consume, which is what everyone should do.  Overall I would deem this film a success in all aspects.  As you followed the family, not only did they individually try and help the environment, but by doing so they also helped themselves.  Throughout the film the parents built on their personal patience and learned to compromise with one another as well as the surrounding world.  No television was present and in turn made the each spouse a better parent to their child by teaching them to live in the moment.  Only local foods were consumed reversing the wife’s pre-existing conditions of diabetes.  Notions such as these have no impact on the earth yet have such a large impact on life and health.  As the women acknowledged in the film… televisions, computers, air conditioning, lighting… all of these things were made to keep us inside, but we were meant to go outside and live and experience the outdoors.  We are human beings made to create, explore, experiment and discover the physical world.  We are born to communicate and develop, build and cherish relationships not just become consumed by materials and technologies.  More than anything I think that this film did an excellent job bringing into light morality through sustainable living.  Simple living is simple happiness.

Communicating Nature: Chapter 4

This chapter of Communicating Nature reiterated and expanded upon a lot of what the films produced.  According to Corbett, “The disconnects we make between work, lifestyle, consumption, and environment are some of the most pernicious ones we make.”   Even when we are working indoors we are still making the same impact on the environment as that of a fisherman just in a different light.  This chapter highlights that there is no compartmentalizing work and nature.  You work using electricity, paper, desks and whatever it is you use that are all provided through and by nature.  Although nature provides us our work, we work not for nature.  The book emphasizes how one works in order to shop.  Consuming has in actuality become and occupation more real than a teacher, famer or mother.

Regan Bosnyak

8 comments:

  1. I like how you decided to take initiative in the workplace even though the business does not go along with. The amount of waste this country generates truly is disgusting. It is so simple to cut back on small wasteful behaviors in our everyday lives yet most people are unwilling to do it. The numbers you threw into your writing about "Story of Stuff" had a very big impact on me. I can't believe that only 4% of American forests are left standing. It is of no surprise to me that Americans use a third of the world's natural resources. No Impact Family was definitely a better title considering it wasn't just his project and he basically forces this upon his entire family. However, the consequences of the project were actually pretty awesome. They became a more tightly knit family and learned to have less of an impact on the earth. I personally have decided I am going to begin riding my bike most places instead of taking my car. Also good points made that most workers have similar impact on the environment although in different ways. I think you hit all the important points and I couldn't agree more.

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  2. I totally agree when you say the film should have been called "no impact family." It really seemed like the wife was less on board, especially considering her job, and yet she had to make the most sacrifices. You're right when you mention that being "sustainable" may not be environmentally efficient though it will benefit your own health and lifestyle. So many people ask what the point of changing their lifestyle would be since it wouldn't make a huge impact on the world, however, telling the same people that the changes could save them money and illness might encourage them to actually make the changes.

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  3. I know it must be hard for you to work at a resturaunt and see all of that food going to waste every night knowing that there are people all over the world who are hungry and who could benefit greatly from that discarded food. It is sad to see all of the things that we waste and how all of it is just tossed into piles in the Earth yet we do not think about "away" as being in our backyards so we do no care that we throw out so many things. If we could reduce our consumption habits this would probably be way less of a problem, like the family in No Impact Man we could all try and reduce or eliminate our consumption greatly if we just gave it some effort.

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  4. Dude. I love that you brought up restaurants. I work at a chain restaurant that is owned by one of the largest restaurant companies in the world, and we don't even have a recycle bin. Not one. Not only does the company use the crazy thick plastics that aren't recyclable at all for its take out containers and kids cups but like, there isn't even another option offered. SO much food gets thrown away! Sometimes I take left over steak to my dog and there's also this lady who saves all the extra bread and feeds it to her chickens. But it isn't enough! I have had heated conversations with my manager and my director about why the entire company (which has thousands of restaurants world wide) doesn't recycle and have never gotten an answer. They say "Oh well we have to pay someone to pick it up." SO WHAT?! I offered to pick up the recycling myself after I was told that I would have to go out and buy the bins with my own money. I was then told that if I wanted to do this I would have to come everyday twice a day and pick up the recycling/compost. As if I have the time or the gas money to do so. When I was doing my garbage journal I was thinking the same thing. I didn't take into account the waste that I was throwing out for other people. But if I did I think I would be really upset. How would it be measured? Pounds of food? And furthermore all that food was individually wrapped in the first place and probably shipped across the country. Great blog.

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  5. Very nice job. You can make this stronger by giving more examples and being specific about the details in these texts. How do they work visually? What is the style? Coal Mine? Synthetic Sea? Are they effective—why and why not? Refer to more concrete things in all of the texts and tease them out further. Nice work. Just dig deeper!
    -Dr. H

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  6. Very nice job. You can make this stronger by giving more examples and being specific about the details in these texts. How do they work visually? What is the style? Coal Mine? Synthetic Sea? Are they effective—why and why not? Refer to more concrete things in all of the texts and tease them out further. Nice work. Just dig deeper!
    -Dr. H

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  7. Kudos for bringing up the waste in the restaurant industry. I used to work at a catering hall, and after each event(sometimes four in a day), we would throw away ten of pounds of perfectly good food. You have a very definitive voice in your writing, which is great to see. Your personality shines in this piece, as opposed to reading a mundane rearrangement of the texts we are assigned. Stay true, and continue to tell it like it is. Your passion and intelligence will do the rest.

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