When conducting this audit it became quite clear that there was many areas of the waste process that were almost seamlessly invisible, potentially impacting how we approach our individual waste.
I live in an apartment complex on the fifth level. In our complex there is a bin room on the garage basement level with 20 red regular bins, 15 yellow recycling bins and just 2 green bins. Sorting waste into the three categories is definitely a choice not always taken. At home I try my best to have all three bins, however, sometimes other members of the house don’t always follow the three bins or create them themselves or sometimes I don’t if I am tired and become more lazier. Once bins are full there then becomes the act of transporting them down to the basement bin room and sorting them into the different coloured bins. Once again, it would be easy for anyone to just put all their waste into one bin without sorting. Each unit pays strata fees and with this there is a person hired with the job of taking all the bins out to the street the day before the council garbage collection and bringing them back in and washing them down. The audit highlighted how the sorting of waste takes effort for the individual. We as humans naturally aspire for ease and much of the waste process is made easier through not categorising and having other people take care of it almost invisibly for our individual and community comfort.
After the reaching the act of the weekly council garbage pickup I felt as if I was guessing what comes next as i’ve never seen it. I can only speculate that the garbage transported away to some sort of sorting process, hopefully finding ways to recycle, reuse or minimize the waste, and/or then to landfill somewhere far far away. This unknowing is unsettling. We constantly hear that our society and world has big issues with waste processes and landfills rising, however, without the visibility of the issue and direct daily impact there is definitely the easy, comforting stance of ‘“if I can’t see it then it’s not there.” I would love to better understand the post garbage collection and see if somehow the visibility of the process would change my own behaviours.
Book Launch Audit
During our second Wealth to Waste class we attended the book launch and 20th Anniversary for the Institute of Sustainable Futures and were asked to audit the event. Undertaking the audit highlighted how there is a lot of work and factors that goes into creating an event such as this. Food and drink would appear from staff members, refilling frequently, attentive to the guests. Behind the bar, glass and plastic bottles were recycling into bins and half eaten food was taken away and refilled to a nicer aesthetic. It is very easy to just see and consume in the luxuries of the celebrating, however, as we audited we noticed the staff entering from and exiting to a door right at the back of the room in a corner. One can only assume that behind this door there was a complete work mode in place with food storage, kitchens, event managers, cleaning going on creating the beauty and harmonious flow of the event.
Singer. L, 2015, video recording, TEDxTeen, viewed 2 April 2017, <https://www.tedxteen.com/talks/why-i-live-a-zero-waste-life-lauren-singer>
University of Technology Sydney, 2013, Waste Management Plan 2013-2015, Sydney, Viewed 2 April 2017 <https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/WASTE_MANAGEMENT_PLAN.140301.pdf>
Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy 2010, Understanding Your Waste Stream: Food and Organics Best Practice Collection Mannual, Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra