Planetary Rubbish

I've recently been thinking a lot about the impact of our consumer society on our poor planet, and what we can do about it.  I've been trying to make more and more changes to reduce the waste that is generated by our household, and also striving to be more responsible about how we dispose of waste.

It seems that we are more aware today than ever before of the long-term impact of today's rubbish and there is a definite movement towards being more proactive when it comes to tackling this issue.  But I can't help but wonder how we got here.  Was it that our generation inherited the 80's and 90's mindset of consumerism and we're now at the age where our eyes are open to what this means for the planet and we're trying to turn it all around?

Well that was my thinking at least until I sat down with my daughter the other evening to do her homework. Her home reader for that week was ‘What Happens to Rubbish’ and it was all about what happens to rubbish after we dispose of it and it highlighted the incredible length of time it takes for common items to break down*.  Aluminium such as soft drink cans can take up to 500 years, glass bottles and jars up to 1000 years, and plastic bottles and foam cups as long as millions of years. That's right millions. And it turns out this information isn't new.  The reader was published in 1999!  So all of this has been common knowledge for at least 20 years yet we are still not consistently recycling aluminium and glass, and we are still using items such as foam cups that cannot be recycled and take millions of year to break down.  That's right.  Millions.  

I feel I'm at risk of getting ranty, so I'm just going to leave you with a little sketch that I did of planet earth the other night, along with a song that has been stuck in my head since I read the phrase "around the sun" the other day.  It's a song from my childhood that was probably popular/unpopular around the time I had black school shoes with a tree and the word 'environment' embroidered on them. (Weird, but true!)  Feel free to mute the song of course if it's not your thing or if you have legitimate concerns it may become an ear worm.  (The risk is real!)


*What Happens To Rubbish? (1999)Costain, M., Macmillan Education Australia.