The Way of the Wheelie-Bin

Every week a waste contractor drives by my house and collects the contents of a 240 litre garbage bin. Every other week it also collects the contents of a second 240 litre bin, filled with what we loosely term “recyclables”.  More about that another day.  For now let’s just explore the first 240 litre weekly bin.

To begin with, absolutely everything that I have used to fill that bin is stuff I have paid for. And I am also paying someone to take it “away”.

Ok, it seems obvious, but why is this significant?

Every week I buy “stuff” that eventually ends up in that bin because it can not be reused, recycled or composted. I am only one of hundreds of thousands of households that stuff a bin full of “stuff” that they have paid for, 52 times a year, year after year. Now imagine the contents of 52 bins in your house:  think of 5 rows of 10 bins, if that does not work, then picture a pile about 3 metres tall, and an about 5 metres in diameter. Ok, just about every one of your facebook friends has one of them too… and their friends, and so on.

Environmentalists talk about this as being a problem, and sure enough it is, a big one at that.  But beneath the problem of an ever growing junk pile hides something far more worrying: an evolutionary dead-end.

Nature is a totally closed system.  There is not one single process that is not a closed loop.  We know that when the balance of input and outputs from an certain organism’s activity goes beyond the connected other systems to either absorb outputs or produce inputs, the organism generally declines rapidly or becomes extinct.

The problem is that we have become one of those organisms. This is our evolutionary dead-end.

The good news?  We are in a kind of “geological infancy” when it comes to technological and intellectual development.  We have not yet got our processes right (another topic), so we need to keep refining.  Because we are accelerating towards tipping points, we do not have the luxury of hanging on to the parts of our activities and processes that are not working, least of all to argue about their validity or justifications.

The bin is our weekly reminder, our symbol of habits and behaviours that keep us on the evolutionary dead-end. Spend you money wisely, and keep that bin lean!.

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