bUneke Magazine Issue 22

Page 20

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Trash,

Before it Became it was Something of Value and Worth by Kate Gaertner

If we can zoom out for a moment and see the system of trash with different eyes or through a different lens, we can look anew at what trash is, redefine, and rename it. Today’s trash is something we don’t want anymore. That doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t want it. It is not true that it retains no value. We just perceive it as having no value for ourselves. Trash is trash for two reasons. The first is we stop valuing the things we once did and seek to remove them from our lives. The second is that we have developed few post-consumer, post-value mechanisms for things made for human consumption to be processed and returned back to the earth, to be renewed and reborn. Things and their materials die an abrupt death. That death is trash. Materials that go from birth to use to death are living an unnatural cycle. It is a uniquely human construct. One that can be changed. We need to see the path of things and materials as not ending once we are done with them but as a circular system of use, reuse, revalorize, and renewal.

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Sorting is the Solution Sorting is the biggest system challenge we face. What we don’t value, we don’t care about. But we’d be wise to internalize a sense of responsibility for managing what we consume and what we use. We have to know that if we take the extra time to ensure we carefully sort, disassemble, and place materials in appropriate curbside bins for municipal collection and drive those extra miles to a municipal hazmat facility, we’ve done the job of material sorting well. Frustratingly, not all of those containers and bags are accepted by your municipality.

Trash pollution can disappear. We could be smart and overhaul how we name trash and waste. We need more descriptive words for the materials that need to have something done to them after we are done using them. They need to go somewhere, but not away, and definitely not buried. Today’s unwanted material doesn’t magically disappear, but trash

pollution can, if we make a concerted effort to sort, recycle, and reuse. If we used a more accurate labeling system, people would better understand where material goes and what its next life would look like. Instead of trash bins, how about labels such as: Compost: All food and commercially compostable plates, flatware, and cupware Recycle: Highly recyclable paper, glass, and aluminum products Upcycle: All plastics that can be made into high-quality products—#1 and #2 Downcycle: All plastics that can be made into lower-quality plastics—#3 to #6 Hazardous Materials: Batteries, incandescent bulbs, toxic chemicals, and flammable items Waste-to-Energy: All consumer products that blend plastics #1 to #7 We play a big part in a system that needs a major overhaul. Stay positive, be committed and remember: Trash is material of value. Disassemble products into their elemental materials (i.e., paper, plastic, glass, aluminum). Sort materials rightly to eliminate post-consumer trash.

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Kate Gaertner is a leading circularity and sustainability expert, a soughtafter speaker, and sustainability columnist for Star-News. She is the author of Planting a Seed: Three simple steps to sustainable living.

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Articles inside

Product Reviews

6min
pages 54-56

Zodiac 3

7min
pages 58-60

Freedom is an Open Window

3min
page 53

Book Reviews

6min
pages 48-52

Passion is the Mother

2min
page 46

Roen Reviews

1min
page 47

Stay Healthy Through Your Gut

2min
page 45

Finding Peace in Passing

3min
page 42

Everything in Motion

4min
pages 43-44

Start a new Holiday Tradition

2min
page 40

Discover the Truth that Can Set You Free

2min
page 39

My Lovely Hummingbird

2min
page 35

Nourished by the Power of Creativity

2min
page 33

This Story is for the Birds

1min
page 34

Rescuing the Watershed

2min
page 32

Passionate Living

2min
pages 28-29

The Barn is Going to the Dogs

3min
pages 26-27

He Restores Antique Parasols

3min
pages 30-31

Namaste

2min
page 23

Before it Became Trash

2min
page 20

Teens Can Save Earth: Red Pandas

2min
pages 6-7

Bringing Love & Support to Charities

3min
pages 4-5

Keto Chia Pudding

2min
page 12

Autumn in the Korean Countryside

2min
page 22

Give New Life to an Old Bottle

1min
page 18

The Healing Power of Art

2min
pages 16-17

What to do With Your Old Christmas Tree?

1min
page 21
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