Posts Tagged ‘litter’

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Energy Analog: 60s Litter?

August 1, 2008

I had an interesting conversation over breakfast with MetroNetIQ.com blogger and fellow Green Geek, John C.  We were comparing the social paradigm shift about litter that occurred in the 60s to the needed change about energy.  In the last 60s, litter was a massive free rider problem where people felt totally OK throwing trash everywhere.  Industrial pollution and dumping were also rampant.

I still vividly remember the anti-pollution adds (albeit from the 1970s).  Through a combination of laws and social change we have radically altered society’s opinion about pollution and litter.  They are simply not accepted – they have become social taboos.  We need the same change for sustainability.

An enduring icon for anti-pollution

An enduring icon for anti-pollution

The change took huge political will power.  It was an major economic burden on the businesses.  People individually took action and changed their behavior.  So what happened to change us? Why is this different than the nascent energy paradigm shift?

I believe that the pollution problem was directly in people’s back yards and visible.  Water and air quality in-your-face disasters.  It also fit with the culture of the era.  So far, our energy problem has been growing silently – terrorism and climate change are hard to link to daily actions.  The recent surge in prices is motivating people to change, but I don’t see a paradigm shift.

What icon will emerge for sustainability?  How bad will it have to get before we have a universal icon?

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Talking Trash on the Beach

July 19, 2008

Yes, I’m a sustainability nut… Instead of frolicking the the surf, I was taking pictures of the beach trash cans at Fort Walton Beach, Fla,  I was appalled, appalled I tell you, about amount of recyclables in the trash.  While it’s pathetic much litter remains on the sand, I’m even sadder that the City of Fort Walton Beach (FWB) puts out trash cans in pairs, yet does not offering beach side recycling.

The photo shows the obvious – typical beach waste is at least 80% recyclable!

This is NOT trash!
This is NOT trash!

This leads to interconnected two questions:

  1. Does it make sense for FWB to provide beach recycling as a service?
  2. Would people use it if they offered it?

Unfortunately, it’s not a viable service unless people will use it.  I wonder if recyclers could handle the 20% waste in the otherwise Al & PET rich trash.

From the photo below, Austin clearly has both the motivation and participation to provide recycling.  What will it take to push this municipal attitude to the mainstream?

Austin does it right
Austin does it right