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.