4/07/2009

Garbage

According to the Norwegian newspaper VG; Norwegians ”produce” more garbage than anyone else in Europe. Statistics from Eurostat (statistics for the European Union) in 2007 shows that every Norwegian throws out 821 kg (1806.2 lbs) of garbage each year. Every European throws away an average of 500 kg each year. The countries in Western/Northern Europe – high income countries – throw out considerably more than countries in the South/East. (More money - more buying) In the Czech Republic for instance, people throw away an average of 294 kg pr. year.

Of course; this is statistics and must be read with that in mind. But 821 kg is an enormous amount of garbage. Try picturing having your very own landfill in your backyard, and let everyone in your family contribute with 821 kg each of garbage each year. What would you do with it? How would you manage it? How much time would you have to spend trying to get it to compost quicker, trying to minimize the health hazard, the environmental hazard and just sorting and piling things to get enough space so you didn’t have to move all together?

It’s so easy to just throw things away. Just toss it in a plastic bag and never see it or think of it again.

And it’s so easy to buy something new. So refreshing - kind of comforting; completely without thinking about how this item will end its life. But it will. Someday.

Buying is so natural. We buy things. That’s what we do. A considerable amount of our time is spent buying, or thinking about and planning on buying things. And many people use almost no time at all thinking about reducing our waste, recycling, reusing, reinventing and refusing more stuff. But some do, and for some people this has become a whole new way of life.

Where do you belong in this?

To our (the Norwegians) defence – we are among the countries that recycle most of our garbage. And that at least, is a good thing.

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I spent this evening sewing up some cloth wipes. I didn’t find any cotton flannel among my ridiculous amount of fabric, but I found some old, soft and flowery curtains from Goodwill. Photos tomorrow. I kept thinking of whoever owned those curtains before. Maybe an old lady – they feel kind of old lady like to me. What would she say if she new that her old curtains now will be reinvented and used as cloth wipes?

3 comments:

ladybug-zen said...

thank you for this very thoughful and though provoking post. my family and i are readying ourselves for a big move from japan to melbourne, aus. i've begun thinking about the packing process. as i look around everyday and try to fathom how i am giong to do it all in a sane, ecological fashion, i am completely and utterly overwhelmed. and i cannot help but ask myself over and over, " how did we, why did we get all this stuff?"
i don't know what to do with all of it. we can't take it all with us. we are planning on selling alot of it and recycling some at the recycle shop, but what about the remaining bits and pieces??? i have no idea.

Bjørk said...

Oh, I know. We’ve moved quite a few times before we settled down here. Moving kind of forces you to deal with all your stuff – the good and bad aspects of it. The “nice” thing about moving is just that – you have to deal with it. You have to clean up and simplify and think about it. Get in touch with all the feelings related to your “stuff”. My opinion is that it can be a really good thing. Maybe even life changing :) And recycling, giving away, selling, trading etc. is always better than just tossing it :)

skymring said...

And to our further defense, norwegians are no 1, the best, on top of the list of the whole world, etc etc, at recycling electric/electronic waste. The EU demands 4 kg per person per year, while norwegians recycle 15,5 kg.