Part 5: Waste not, warm not
Waste and climate change might seem like two different things. But every time we throw something away, a new one probably has to be made. That takes energy. And most of our energy production still relies on fossil fuels. So before we can use less energy, we have to throw less stuff away.
And let’s not forget the emissions that come from the waste. Rubbish in landfills emits methane – which is 25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Many landfills have methane collection methods, but they don’t capture it all. Nearly a fifth of US methane emissions come from landfills.
The worst culprit may be food waste.
More than a third of all the food produced in the world gets chucked out. The energy that it takes to produce, harvest, transport and package all that wasted food produces 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. This is more than the total emission of the entire European Union – just to grow, pack and move rubbish.
Unlike asking us to give up overseas ski holidays, the mission to reduce food waste seems like a win-win. We currently produce enough food to feed everyone in world – if a third of it wasn’t being distributed to landfills.
Food waste is on the international radar. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals calls for food wast to be halved by 2030. France has made it illegal for supermarkets to destroy edible food and instead requires them to work with food banks.
Companies are doing their bit. The Consumer Goods Forum has set a goal of 25 percent reduction in food waste by 2025.
And of course you and I can try to let less food rot away in our fridges or get scraped into the green bin.
Which brings us to non-food waste.
Since 50 percent of the world’s waste comes from households, we’re all in a pretty sweet position to do something about this one.
Recycling is the obvious one.
Making new stuff out of old stuff uses less energy. Of course, what you can recycle is limited by what your city will collect, so you might have to make some noise, too.
Repair is cool.
You may have heard about how Sweden has been working to legislate more repair and less rubbish. They’ll give tax cuts of up to 25% on repair services and add a “chemical tax” to the resources that go into making new stuff.
All these arguments about consumption end up in the same place – a good hard look at what we buy. If we consume less, we need fewer fixes at the other end. (Hey, look, just below, here’s a great new pair of skis you could buy!) But seriously, giving up skiing is a step too far for us at this stage. But what we can do is offer you a bamboo-core pair of skis, with no plastic sidewalls that are made to last and that we can repair.
Thanks to everyone who made it through all five of our #thinkabout articles. We’ll be releasing limited edition numbered topsheets designed as conversation starters this winter. To get first dibs on the Rubbish topsheet, sign up for updates here: