A Total Waste

June 8, 2018

Yesterday, someone gave me a gift of chocolates. Lovely. I took it out of the gift bag. I removed the tissue paper. I opened the cardboard box. I unwrapped the cardboard and all the explainer cards. I opened the tin. I took out the foil packets and cellophane. I took the first chocolate out of the plastic tray inside the box…you can see where this is going.

It got me thinking about waste.

One lovely gesture. Some lovely chocolate. A lot of un-lovely waste.

I looked up the origin of the word “waste”, which is always a treat for a word-nerd. It comes from the Latin word ‘vastus’ – which means ‘uncultivated’ or ‘unoccupied’. You start to get a sense that the word waste was meant to be about emptiness or vastness. As the word made its way through old northern French and into modern English, it has been twisted into quite the opposite. Waste is about occupying the emptiness. Waste is filling up the giant chocolate box that we live in with … stuff. (By giant chocolate box, I mean the earth…life is after all just like a box of chocolates, hey Forrest?).

According to Greenpeace.com, Australian households produce 1.5 tonnes of garbage each year. That garbage fills up the emptiness in our waste centres…which are of course a label we put on unoccupied land.

What is potentially most distressing about this…is that around $8 billion worth of edible food hits the bin in Australia each year.

While repetition is boring, repetition is boring, repetition is boring…sometimes a fact carries so much gravity that it bears repeating…slowly…just to let it sink in.

Eight. Billion. Dollars. Worth. Of. Edible. Food. Hits. The. Bin. In. Australia. Each. Year.

Let’s put that into context about where else it could go…

According to Foodbank.org.au, hunger is a hidden crisis in Australia with 3.6 million people in Australia experiencing food insecurity: 27% of whom are children. It seems crazy when there are means to preserve and redistribute food to those who need it.

In our beautiful community of Byron Bay and the Northern Rivers Region, we can find hope and care in the individual and collective efforts. If you haven’t heard of Liberation Larder, it is a local initiative that is dedicated to rescuing good food and re-distributing it to address the problems of waste and food insecurity in our community.

It is an incredible testimony to our community and one that we are proud to support on behalf of all of our clients. Check out their work at http://www.liberationlarder.org/

The individuals and businesses of our region find ways to contribute too, bound by a belief in sustainability and community. If you have excess produce, you can head to the Excess Produce Exchange where they can help you rescue and preserve food that might otherwise go to waste. The website of this group also has some great resources on how to minimise waste, grow and preserve your own food, as well as how to forage for local, naturally abundant food. Worth a visit: https://www.foragebyronbay.com.au/excess-produce-exchange-byron-bay/

That gift of chocolate was certainly not intended to plummet me into a study on garbage, but in discovering the problem and learning about the local solutions, it certainly wasn’t a waste of time. If anything, it has reaffirmed everything I love about our community and provided an opportunity to revisit the value of sustainability. Even in our office, we have people leading the way and if you missed our Life of Byron feature on sustainability with Sales Agent, Adam Guthrie, it really shows how a change in lifestyle is accessible to everyone, and easier than you think: http://www.byronbayfn.com.au/life-of-byron-a-sustainable-community-with-adam/

“We cannot hope to create a sustainable future, without sustainable souls,” – Derrick Jensen, Endgame.

One Response to “A Total Waste”

  • Carmel says:

    Fabulous article thank you. So relevant and so important. I have had this on my mind lately, we are routinely seeing green waste and household waste dumped beside creeks and along our road. It’s incredibly frustrating. Our council is acting on my request to pick up the rubbish and hopefully tidy up the creek area. Well done Byron Bay and Northern River Region for your initiatives. No wonder we are hoping to eventually move into the area.

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