I attended day one of a food sustainability event today. It was not only about sustainability, but most speakers talked about it. The name of the event isn’t important since nearly every other event does the same.
Nearly everyone working on sustainability fell into the pattern I call chasing efficiency through recycling, ignoring reducing total waste. They miss the difference between increasing efficiency and decreasing total waste. Companies love this tactic because it sells more of their products while distracting from the waste.
A quick glance at the plastic on nearly any beach will tell you the amount of total waste is what’s important today. We’re more efficient than ever and producing more waste than ever. They mistakenly act and think like people haven’t been trying to be efficient before.
We’ve been increasing efficiency since before the industrial revolution. Beyond not changing, they’re doing what created our polluted world. We’re heading toward a brick wall, they’re stepping on the gas, thinking it’s the brake, and expect congratulations for it.
As I described in my podcast and I recommend listening to, reducing is strategic, reusing and recycling are tactical.
Our world is more efficient than ever and producing more waste than ever. We need to change our focus to be effective.
But my disgust came not from people missing this point. It’s subtle, at least until you get it, then it’s blatant.
Garbage with abandon
The disgust came from the sponsors whose food came packaged and the single-use garbage people used. Below is a table covered with garbage. The event planners ordered it, but they aren’t the only ones responsible. Attendees could have left the garbage and taught the planners to plan less waste next time.
How do people live with themselves, putting down waste, yet producing it?
Another benefit of not eating for three days, as I covered in my Inc. piece, I Haven’t Eaten for 3 Days and It’s Amazing, is the freedom and ability to skip a meal, or nine. No one has to get garbage.
Meanwhile, on the way out of my home on my way there, I picked up this Tupperware lid that may be twenty years old to use as a plate. It worked great. I also brought a fork and spoon — hardly difficult. On the contrary, I got to eat with more joy and caring.
I can’t believe people complain about the situation in the world while contributing to it. It’s not the magnitude of the waste, it’s the mindless blaming of others without taking responsibility.
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