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Garbage
Jon Lebkowsky, 4 Aug 05

Image of garbage by FruggoGrist's review of Elizabeth Royte's Garbage Landsays there's no clear answer to the ongoing and escalating problem of waste management other than the obvious:

in the U.S. -- where only 11 states have bottle bills, and 95 percent of the 12 billion magazines produced every year are printed on virgin paper -- we have a long way to go. In fact, with her merciless revelations of the hard realities of garbage and its processing, Royte leaves the clear impression that there's only one real solution: use less stuff.
I.e. we should consume less, and focus on sustainable life styles, breaking the patterns of mindless consumerism and the reckless assumption that business and profits can and should grow indefinitely.

It's easy to say that we should advocate for the simple and sustainable; the environmental movement's been saying just that for decades, but getting there is tough. If we're going to get there, we have to encourage ordindary people to examine their lives and life-styles, and consider reframing their thinking about consumerism. What are the practical alternatives? In a world where capitalism seems to work and socialism seems to fail, we get nowhere with Marxist rants (unless we're talking Groucho, not Karl).

This process should start at home – I've been considering my own lifestyle and realizing how disconnected I am from the goal of sustainability I've been advocating. I like to think that I live modestly, but according to an ecological footprint analysis, it would take six earths to support my lifestlye if everyone on the planet attempted to live the way I do.

I live where the temperatures are in the triple digits part of the year (less unusual in the era of global climate weirdness) and my thermostat is set in the 70s, so the air conditioner is working overtime through those hot summer days, burning considerable energy. I drive a car that's only moderately fuel-efficient, and I drive pretty much everywhere. Though we recycle aluminum, plastic, and newspaper, we also toss several bags of garbage a week, and we routinely toss uneaten food... we don't have a compost heap. And we're not living simply by any other means - my life is way complex and getting more so, in addition to which I have a jones for media and I'm still a thoroughly conditioned consumer which is to say that I throw products into a void in my life that never fills... like a preta, a hungry ghost.

Even if we were more efficient with food and did't toss it, what about our local groceries that are constantly culling "expired" food from shelves and produce bins? Where does that food go? Years ago I coordinated a food drive where we tapped into some of that food - literally tons of still-edible food that would've been thrown away had we not discovered it and hauled it to various church and charity food pantries. (Later a Food Bank formed and started taking that food, but what happens to the food that spoils before they can use it? How much are we still throwing away?)

At a recent sustainable business presentation in Austin, I was impressed to hear how Habitat Suites, a local green hotel was diligent about in its environmental practices. (Here's a link to a pdf summary.) However, though they work at producing less garbage by buying products that are not packaged, this often just means having suppliers remove the packaging pre-delivery, which may just be a matter of shifting the garbage output to a different location.

How do we reduce what appears to be extraneous packaging given our economic commitment to its existence? One solution might be internal corporate projects to reduce product packaging. Kraft Foods reports "23 packaging projects with the potential of reducing our packaging materials by about 6 million pounds (2,700 metric tons)." Europe has an Organization for Packaging and the Environment, an industry and trade association committed to packaging policies that are "environmentally, economically and scientifically sound, as well as socially and politically acceptable." Australia has a National Packaging Covenant "designed to minimise the environmental impacts arising from the disposal of used packaging, conserve resources through better design and production processes and facilitate the re-use and recycling of used packaging materials." There are complex global regulations for packaging that are mostly about food safety, but could also address environmental impact, as in the UK.

But I'm focusing on the personal, and to that end, I've just added myself to the small list of people on 43 Things that have as a goal "Reduce my ecological footprint." As of today, that makes ten people with that goal. Join us?

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Comments

one thing I like about this website is the positive slant it has taken on environmental activities. The action that is being taken and how we are doing our best to reach an ambiguous goal.

Many environment-oriented people who live in this kind of situation, and I don't mean to criticize as harshly as this might sound, idly lament the life that they have in their 1st world country with excess of goods everywhere.

People in the developed world lead a fairly wealthy life. It's easy to criticize Eisenhower and his freeways and the post war promotion of what became suburban sprawl in retrospect, but it was pretty ambitious and amazing at the time of connecting a country as vast at the US. Living in Japan, where tollroads are quite expensive (about $50 to go the distance from LA to Sanfrancisco) despite american like gov't subsidies,

The freeway system was only now completed just recently. Environmentalism, as a movement, started much later than that, and without the power of PAC's from the auto industry, etc.

This is kind of an incomplete thought, but it's a bit late right now. I just wanted to say that, while it's important to remind us of how things aren't where they should be, I hope that the majority of things posted at this site continue to emphacize how far we've come.


Posted by: travis on 4 Aug 05

Oh, definitely. My purpose in creating this piece was focus on solutions but to acknowledge challenges. E.g. it's amazing what Habitat Suites in Austin and other green hotels are doing, but there's still the larger packaging issue... which is not a negative so much as a challenge. And there's the real need for those of us who haven't focused on sustainability in our own lives to make personal commitments - as opposed to "idly lamenting," as you say.


Posted by: Jon Lebkowsky on 4 Aug 05

"95 percent of the 12 billion magazines produced every year are printed on virgin paper"

WorldChanging, of course, isn't printed on ANY paper; neither are the growing number of online newspapers, magazines, and scientific journals. I'd like to know, however, how the energy cost of running enough computers long enough to read said publications compares to the energy cost of printing and distrubuting paper pubs. Any thoughts?


Posted by: Aaron on 4 Aug 05

Aaron: I don't know what the energy use of a pulp mill is, or what that is separated into per-magazine parts.

I am at first inclined to think that computer use would be less, if only because the computer I'm on (at work) would have to be on anyway. We'd also have to separate the time spent on reading this site (and links from it, etc) from other computer use.

I know that the computer I'm on now has a 300W power supply, and the monitor likely takes about 100W. I don't think that the power supply is anywhere near its maximum capacity at any given time, so I'm assuming that the computer is taking about 300W total.

But there are other considerations to take into account. We simply can't discuss things with each other like this in a magazine. We can also lower our energy use when using the computer - laptops (and Mac Minis) take much less power than a standard desktop, LCDs take less power than CRTs. The magazine takes energy to ship, both to the post office and then to our homes. The paper takes energy to grow - how much CO2 would be offset if those trees were allowed to live?


Posted by: Ben Schiendelman on 4 Aug 05

"(Here's a link to a pdf summary.)"

You botched the link. I'm interested in reading the summary. Could you correct the link?


Posted by: Guest on 4 Aug 05

Also consider that magazine readers may read less than 100% of the content, yet hardcopy distribution requires printing and delivery of the complete issue of a publication, vs. online delivery, where your investment (however you determine its value) is for the delivery of content you specifically want.


Posted by: Jon Lebkowsky on 4 Aug 05

The pdf link is unbotched.


Posted by: Jon Lebkowsky on 4 Aug 05

Jon, thanks very much for posting this. It's thought-provoking, so here are some thoughts, just to churn the discussion a bit:

- Garbage is a failure of imagination. It's a too-narrow view of the design problem.

- Dana Meadows and some of her students once decided to physically carry all their "trash" for one week, in plastic bags tied to their waists, like Marley's Ghost. By week's end, they were most infuriated by junk mail.

- We should challenge language - when someone uses the term "throw away", ask "Where's away?" When someone says "Clean up", ask "What happens to the stuff they cleaned up?"

- It's tough to try to do the right thing when embedded in larger systems, but we can do a lot. Six Earths is a lot of footprint! My footprint is down to just about Two Earths. That's still appalling, and I'm neither bragging nor putting you in an unfair comparison. I mean to offer encouragement - my household's footprint used to be much larger, and we've only found delight, security and fun by reducing it. So don't give up - we're in our predicament largely through the sum of billions of individual decisions; that's also one big way we'll get out of it.


Posted by: David Foley on 4 Aug 05

David, can you say more about what you've done to reduce your 'footprint'?


Posted by: Jon Lebkowsky on 4 Aug 05

A colleague of mine did an interesting study of the total "cradle to grave" environmental cost of producing a magazine. (He did this work for a big magazine publishing firm, but I can't remember which one.)

The amazing thing he found was that for each pound of magazine that is delivered to a newsstand, it took about *three* pounds of CO2 to make it and get it there.

Most of that carbon dioxide (and energy) is tied up with shipping materials (trees and pulp, turned into paper, shipped somewhere to be turned into magazines, shipped to several distribution centers, so the magainzes could all arrive on newsstands across the country on the same day, etc.)

And what's even worse is that a big share of the magazines printed in America are never purchased or read.

They publish the same number of magazines every week (for Time, Newsweek, Cosmo, or whatever), whether it's a big news week or not. On weeks that are slow, a lot of the magazines are simply thrown out. But on bigger weeks (after an election or a major disaster), they manage to sell most (if not all) of them. Why do they do this? Well, it's hard to adapt the publishing and printing process each and every week. But I also suspect it is to artifically inflate their circulation numbers, which certainly helps ad revenue.

I'm not sure how the comparison between paper and electronic media works out, but I have to believe that electronic media delivery is better. Does anyone have hard numbers on that?


Posted by: Anonymous on 4 Aug 05

I did the test twice (as was bang in the middle of some ranking options) I score between 1.5 & 1.9 planets. Better than expected. Living in europe helps: I walk most places, otherwise bike & or get a metro/train from 1 of 3 stns nr me, have recycling & compost bins 90secs walk away, & lots of food is grown in the region. Live near a fresh food mkt & surrounded by organic shops & nearly everything else I need. Avoid supermkts, unplug electrical devices from the wall, wash my hair less frequently, grow my own sprouts, ha. I wander what it would take to get to 1 planet: get some new flatmates & stop flying. Less computer time.

Like David said, not bragging but it's interesting to think what we can achieve, step by step, with the options we already have at hand.

The quiz skips a lot of valid questions though. wasn't there another more specific index WCers were talking about recently? Got my kWh at the ready...


Posted by: Janelle on 4 Aug 05

"David, can you say more about what you've done to reduce your 'footprint'?"

Sure Jon. The usual caveats apply, "your mileage may vary, etc."

The big-ticket items are mobility, diet, shelter, household energy and material consumption.

Our house is small and very energy efficient. One wing is where I work, so I don't drive much. My wife commutes far, so she drives a Prius, carpools and telecommutes one day a week. My car averages 34-38 miles per gallon. When I drive, I try not to drive alone, and I try to make one trip for as many tasks as possible.

We've chosen the most energy efficient appliances and equipment we reasonably can. We don't have any incandescent light bulbs that I can think of. Our home and office use between 7 & 8 kilowatt hours of electricity per day. We have all the creature comforts that I can imagine wanting.

We're careful about traveling. Of course we fly, but not too much, and once in a destination, we use mass transit as much as possible.

We buy "green" power. We heat our house primarily with wood from our land.

We're weaning ourselves from the American diet. (We backslide often. It's hard to find an actual meal on the road these days - you know, something with maybe a recipe involved?) We grow a large garden. We're reducing the amount of meat we eat, and trying hard only to eat meat we've personally met - local, range fed, in season, etc. We buy food from friends and neighbors whenever we can. I have a 3 to 5 year plan to raise a lot of our protein (probably mostly chickens) with a minimum of purchased grains.

Like most folks, we like stuff. We have too much of it. We find that sending it on to others is quite liberating. A lot of our stuff is second hand, from yard sales and flea markets. My tailor is often"Mr. Goodwill."

The stuff we have, we maintain. We try not to get bored with our stuff. We try to keep it for a long time. If something has a high material and energy cost, and yields very little satisfaction, we try to stay away from it. One result is we don't watch television.

We recycle and compost what we can.

We still have a lot of room for improvement and there are many ways we've made unsustainable choices. For example, we live about 8 miles from the nearest town of any size. We live in a detached single-family home; my business partner comes here to work (from 12 miles away), but other than that, there are only 2 folks living on 12.5 acres. We live far, far better than most people on Earth, and there's no way that our life comes close to being sustainable. But it's moving in the right direction - we're Americans living like Western Europeans. Not a big deal, really - except Americans are 4% of the world's people using a quarter to a third of the Earth's stuff, with no apparent big boost to their happiness as a result. Seems kind of dumb to me.


Posted by: David Foley on 4 Aug 05

One of the very good things about throwing paper away is of course your throwing carbon away.. and with a modern landfill that carbon will convert to methane slowly over many decades...


Posted by: wintermane on 4 Aug 05

... and methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, will slowly waft out of the landfill. Meanwhile, more trees will be cut to make more paper, releasing more CO2. It will take a lot more energy to make the virgin paper than to recycle the old paper, releasing still more CO2. Don't throw the paper away.


Posted by: David Foley on 4 Aug 05

No the methane is captured and burned for energy... besides it takes quite some time for it to all come out...


Posted by: wintermane on 4 Aug 05

It seems rather pointless to talk about how much fuel the paper will eventually displace, when 3 lbs of CO2 (over ¾lb of carbon) are emitted to get 1 lb of magazine to the reader.  The only way it can offset that kind of emissions is if the paper can somehow leverage a much greater amount of carbon reduction than its own carbon, and that's a tall order.


Posted by: Engineer-Poet on 5 Aug 05

No your misunderstanding me. I am wondering what happened when we all of a sudden started recycling millions of tons of paper... where did all that carbon go that had been going into the paper and then into landfills... where is it going now? Do we know where all our carbon is?


Posted by: wintermane on 5 Aug 05

Hmm if the global population doubles then we will all ahve to have approximatly optimal behaviour for the earth to survive. if it doubles again we won't be able to do much at all.

But what can you do about it?


Posted by: GeniusNZ on 5 Aug 05

Okay, let's think through this.

1) Using virgin paper (and all of the processing steps in between) apparently releases about 3 pounds of CO2 for every pound of paper used in a magazine, etc. The incredible energy intensity of the process kind of makes recycling a no brainer, no matter how inefficient the recycling is.

2) Furthermore, harvesting forests to make paper has an *indirect* effect on the carbon cycle: it removes an intact forest that is drawing down CO2 from the atmosphere. If the forests are replanted (with no long-term deterioriation of soil quality) then this is a carbon-neutral endeavor. But if there is a *net* reduction in forest area (which is definitely true in many places), then there is a *net* release of CO2 to the atmosphere too.

3) Putting paper in the landfill does sequester that *wasted* carbon from the atmosphere for a while. But that carbon will eventually be turned into CO2 or CH4 (depending on the conditions in the landfill). Unfortunately, methane (CH4) is a *really* powerful greenhouse gas -- about 40 times more powerful, molecule for molecule, than CO2, although it only lasts in the atmosphere for ~11 years (compared to ~110 for CO2). You can capture some of that CH4, of course, but you must have nearly perfect recovery (even a 2-3% loss of CH4 from a landfill biogas recovery system would mean that it is worse than simply letting the CO2 go in the first place).

4) So, unless the energy intensity of the recylcing process is *huge* (does anyone know what this number is, exactly, these days?), then recyclnig paper is the clear winner. It (likely) uses less energy to create and process, it leaves forests intact, and does not create a potential methane source to the atmosphere.

5) Recycling paper should still keep much of carbon out of the atmosphere. A book that is printed on recycled paper is still keeping the carbon out of the atmosphere. Recycled cardboard boxes, furniture made from recylced pulp, composite materials made from recycled wood products, etc., are still keeping carbon out of the air too. Landfills aren't the only place to lock carbon away! And wouldn't you rather have tree carbon doing something useful?

This, of course, doesn't even consider that paper recycling has a huge number of other environmental benefits: not cutting down forests and their habitats, not using as much organochrlorines in the processing of the paper, not having to waste a bunch of space on landfills, etc, etc, etc.


Posted by: Jon Foley on 5 Aug 05

Let me emphasize a point about methane.

Methane (CH4) is about ~40 times more powerful a greenhouse gas a CO2, molecule for molecule.

And, unfortunately, methane leaks like crazy. It's very, very hard to keep it from outgassing from landfill, or even a natural gas pipe. (I've read that natural gas pipelines can leak as much as 5-10% of their natural gas, at least in some parts of the world. Imagine the old leaky pipes of the former USSR!)

When organic material breaks down, you can release either CO2 (if in an aerobic environment) or CH4 (in anaerobic conditions).

Sure, you can try to capture the methane and use it as fuel, but if you release more than 2.5% (1 over 40, the ratio of the CO2:CH4 greenhouse "powers") of it, then you aren't even breaking even from a greenhouse gas point of view.

The bottom line is this: if you think capturing methane from "wasted" organic carbon is going to solve your greenhouse problems, you're probably wrong. You have to capture over 97.5% of it, otherwise you've created a problem that is bigger than the one you started with.

You're a lot better off not throwing the organic matter away in the first place. Use it again, and use it wisely.


p.s. Of course, if you already have a landfill that is generating methane anyway, then DEFINITELY try to capture all of that methane and use it as fuel! Don't waste it! But wintermane's idea that throwing more and more organic carbon away, and then using the resulting methane outgassing as fuel, somehow helps the greenhouse effect is completely wrong.


Posted by: Jon Foley on 5 Aug 05

Ya but how much recycled paper actauly gets back into paper? I know alot of places burn it and alot of others mulch it.


Posted by: wintermane on 5 Aug 05

Yes, but even that's better in some ways. Using waste organic material as a combustable fuel is not such a bad idea. It's carbon that would have simply oxidized or respired anyway, so why not get some useful energy out of it?

I know that some towns in Sweden do this: use dry wastes as a fuel source (just burn it) and wet wastes as a methane source (digest it, and then burn the methane).


Anyway, I think the overall lesson is this: interupting the natural flows of the carbon cycle (either by digging up ancient fossil fuels, or harvesting long-lived biomass pools) is probably not a good idea. From a CO2 emissions point of view, it's always better to leave the carbon where it is (oil, or trees), or at least use it as efficiently as possible (and as many times as possible). That also means using the "waste" we generate for as many things possible too.

It's just basic systems analysis: human-environment systems work best when we mimic the natural stocks and flows of the biosphere. (Digging up 300 million year old carbon -- as oil, gas, coal -- and burning it immediately into the atmosphere is bound to screw up the system. It's kind of a no brainer, right?) Also, minimizing the waste streams of the human economy, and maximizing the useful work done with our throughput of material / energy, is absolutely essential. In the natural biosphere, there is no "waste".

It's kind of amazing how we can forget such things.


Posted by: Jon Foley on 5 Aug 05

> Americans are 4% of the world's people using a quarter to a third of the Earth's stuff, with no apparent big boost to their happiness as a result. Seems kind of dumb to me.

It is and yet the problem is less one of a simple choice and more one of normal economic forces. for example within a country where petrol is cheep the government is unlikely to cinsider your argument that driving to get welfare is wasteful. Or they may place minimum sizes on the size of apartments that can be built to protect the occupants despite the fact that that may also be wasteful.
Or you might find yourself located in an area that doesnt grow much food and thus everything is imported. easier for some than others.
Thus it is very hard for you to get your footprint down as a result of many forces within the economy.

Also not many people are willing to accept moving themselves to more primitive standards of living or staying at those levels. I dont think this is somthing you will ever be able to convince the general public of at least not in the countries that matter like china and india. Worse yet those countries that use these strategies are likely to quickly fall under the influence of those that dont.

OK call me defeatist...


Posted by: GeniusNz on 5 Aug 05

A lot of what I throw out is advertising, by which I mean not just junk mail but packaging who's primary purpose is to entice me to buy brand X rather than brand Y sitting next to it at the supermarket. Seems a bit wasteful to keep printing it, why not leave the ad at the supermarket?

I get stuff home delivered a fair bit. Still end up with all the packaging and plastic carry bags :-o. But in principle online shopping + home delivery is potentially far more efficient than everyone driving to the supermarket.

More generally: we're surrounded by advertising. Kinda hard to cut back when at every opportunity signs are saying "buy this", "you need that", "this TV is desirable like a sexy woman". Psychologically toxic environment.

I would pay money to have less advertising in my environment. If it weren't so hard to coordinate, I'd pool money with my neighbours and bid against advertisers to display blank billboards.

Or, heh, Coke (etc) could pay money to have less Pepsi (etc) signs displayed and vice-versa.


Posted by: Paul Harrison on 5 Aug 05

Although, we can obviously do much, much better than we are currently doing, I don't really understand the use of the term escalating... as in

"ongoing and escalating problem of waste management"

Take a look at:
http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/pubs/msw05rpt.pdf
and compare data for 1980 versus 2003. It sure doesn't look like an escalating problem to me.

For even stronger improvements look at:
http://www.cawrecycles.org/state.html
for data on California waste management.


Posted by: Joe Deely on 5 Aug 05

"95 percent of the 12 billion magazines produced every year are printed on virgin paper"

I was wondering has anyone tried to get local regulations requiring recycled paper? I was thinking that most cities (well ok actually not a lot of cities when I think about it) already have paper recycling programs it seems to make sense for them economically to require local media to be printed on such an amount of recycled paper i.e. 50% etc. is there any local lobbying groups that are currently trying this? I'm sure this regulation is in effect in a lot of places in the u.s., but maybe if those who have managed to get laws like this passed on a city-wide level could advise people in other towns the whole thing could spread. I'm thinking of Orlando, fl btw moved from there about 2 years ago and it seems like the type of place opean to that type of idea.


Posted by: andrew on 5 Aug 05

"Yes, but even that's better in some ways. Using waste organic material as a combustable fuel is not such a bad idea. It's carbon that would have simply oxidized or respired anyway, so why not get some useful energy out of it?"

waste paper burning (along with burn-able garbage) is the norm in north east asia. It's practiced by Japan, South Korea, and China. Even toilet paper is collected in buckets (you can't flush it) and burned. Might add the Shanghai Science and Technology mueseum has about 1/2 a floor dedicated to sustianability and 1/2 a floor of that museum is about the size of your average american science museum.

peace,
A


Posted by: andrew on 5 Aug 05

According to the footprint gadget, I rate 3.24 hectares. That's about 1.7 Earths. Personally I think I could be higher because there may be factors, not covered by the quiz, to drive it higher.

I could outline all the decisions I've made to achieve this but I think most of the folks here know what needs to be done: scrap your car. Change your life in whatever way it takes to scrap any need for a car.

Here's how:

1) Live in the city. The denser the better. Everything that matters is within walking distance. Walking is good for you, it levels your blood sugars. Kiss back trouble and middle-age spread goodbye.

2) Get a job that can be done mostly with telecommuting. I work as a freelance webmaster and network admin.

3) Work for local, small businesses. They're within walking distance or transit.

4) Never feel guilty about mooching rides off friends. You're doing them a favor. (If they're rich nerds, mention the tech appeal of hybrids.)

5) Get used to walking long distances. Scare your friends by casually mentioning that you walk 4 or 6 klicks a day. With decent sidewalks, it takes less time than you'd think.

6) If you got kids walk with them. Ride public transit with them. Get them used to the idea that cars aren't necessary.


Posted by: Pace Arko on 6 Aug 05

Well, folks, I can't resist trying for a holier-than-thou rating here. (and let it be noted that I am not very holy).

First, we eat no meat but deer we shoot out of the back window, and chickens we grow who do most of the table scrap recycling.

Here I have to note that we live a little out of a small town in the midst of a big hardwood forest overpopulated with deer. The deer do not suffer. I never pull the trigger unless it is a sure dropdead shot. And even when we allow lots of hunting, they keep increasing. It takes about 1 wife day to process the deer after I have gutted and skinned it. They are very good to eat.

I work on deep background engineering R&D ( that's the kind that gets no funding and never sees production) by way of a little computer that draws about 60 watts max. I never travel, because it's too expensive of time and because I have had more than enough of it in a previous life.

We use grid power at the rate of about 350 watts averaged over the year. This runs a lot of stuff that could be much better, like for example two lousy well pumps, so that I think if I tried a little harder we could get that down to maybe 200 watts average usage. That's roughly 1800 kW-hrs/yr.

We do all our heating with wood. It helps to have a strong farmer son-in-law right close for this little bit of virtue, if it is such.

Our car averages 35mpg, honest averaged over the year, and we drive it about 6000 miles/yr. That's too much, and a lot if it is ferrying little granddaughters here and there.

A rational transport system would allow us to dial any transport we wanted on a cell phone and have it appear nearly instantly in any form for any need. I have proposed this many times to our town but they think i am some kind of commie tryiing to rob them of the "freedom" of their cars. Maybe next lifetime.

What I am doing development on is a solid fuel burning stirling engine that takes advantage of NASA funded developments that allow more or less infinite life ( say over 100,000 hrs) in a silent machine that will accept any fuel at all that can fit in a burner which is also my wood stove heating system. This thing could obviously burn undesired catalogs and such like biomass, preferably but not necessarily mashed into a uniform cylinder shape that could be fed automatically into the burner.

When and if I get this thing really working, I'll let you know. Until then, I shall remain prudently silent. My past is littered with the rusting hulks of Great Ideas.

And I will also add vote to pay people not to send me things I do not want and will never buy. I would be happy to pay my share of their income so that they could quit pestering me and go take care of their kids, or go fishing, or drinking beer, for that matter. All of that would be far better for me and the world than their trying to bamboozle me into buying junk or poison or lies.

I remain as ever, delighted to see such a great gift to all of us as is World Changing. Ever so many thanks to you good people. You are changing the world!


Posted by: wimbi on 6 Aug 05

If it werent for meat cheese grease chocolate ... tvs puters ac.... old cars a nifty lawn a fairly big home in a wonderful but HOT area.. long commutes...my general level of greed and self importance... and the fact I hate large cities... id be a freaken wonder of green living... instead im about 5-6 earths on the thingy.



Posted by: wintermane on 6 Aug 05

This is a great post with thoughtful comments - thanks very much. I am deathly afraid of taking the ecological footprint test until after I get a few "issues" sorted out in my life. I need to think compost, carpool, and no disposable frappucino cups. Great inspiration here!


Posted by: Arjun Singh on 7 Aug 05

wimbi:

I will also add vote to pay people not to send me things I do not want and will never buy. I would be happy to pay my share of their income so that they could quit pestering me and go take care of their kids, or go fishing, or drinking beer, for that matter.
Once you pay the marketer-geld, you never get rid of the marketer.

The thing to do is make it cost them to try to flog stuff that you don't want.  They flog stuff to you now because they get enough sales to justify the expense; if you can raise the expense enough, they will have to stop flogging it.


Posted by: Engineer-Poet on 7 Aug 05

Just think of all the junkmail as free compost or mulch.


Posted by: wintermane on 7 Aug 05

Well, EP, let us skip mere symptoms and get down to the basics. First we ( all us good people) agree that the present economic system is rotten root and branch. Then we take a Jubileee year off, living on dried dog food and the stuff in the attic, while we think hard about what sort of economics makes real sense, like rewarding goods and punishing bads, and after we have all agreed on what we want the results to be, we set the economists to the job of figuring out all the gritty details of how to get there. Of course watching them carefully all the while to assure they don't repeat any of their usual stupidities, like not recognizing that the only things that can grow forever are knowledge and wisdom, or confusing the symbol for a sack of cenent with the symbol for hopes or expectations
.
On that thought, maybe it would be best to recycle all the economists and start over from scratch. But what do I know? I recall the great line of the character in the Woody Allen movie who responds to Woody's usual angst by the observation " You vant me to explain the holocost? I can't explain a can opener!".


Posted by: wimbi on 9 Aug 05

Attn : Sales Manager, or Whom it may concern.

Dear Sirs or Madams.

Firstly, We would like to introduce ourself. We are BLUE PACIFIC OCEAN DEVELOPMENT JOINT STOCK COMPANY (BPOD JSC), located in Hanoi Vietnam, specialization is providing Equipments and Technology for Environment and Water treatment field.
We are looking for Suppliers The Residental life's Garbage Treatment line for Business Co-operation in this field.
We look forward to hearing from who is interested this information.

Your faithfully.
On Nang Hieu – Director.


Posted by: On Nang Hieu on 13 Aug 05



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