20 December 2008

We Lost Our Garbage

Our mayor has done some really outlandish things, but the craziest idea he ever had was to take away all public garbage cans and residential garbage collectors and trucks. The city dump had begun to overflow and the incinerator had burned out so instead of making new places for all of the garbage, he shut them all down!

You can imagine what happened around here. People didn't know what to do with all of their junk so they started throwing it in the street and there were protests pretty much all over. Some of us were afraid that diseases would break out because rats multiplied and the stench was absolutely unbearable everywhere you went.

The mayor just ignored the protests and went about his business as usual.

After about three weeks, though, some amazing things started happening. When businesses realized that people stopped buying stuff that had lots of packaging they scrambled to offer their goods and services with less wrapping. Everybody started returning their junk mail and the post office became totally inundated with it until the post office decided not to deliver it anymore.

Also, people started figuring out ways to recycle almost everything and things slowly started cleaning up. Recycling companies offered their services door to door, compost classes became popular and whole neighborhoods began organizing themselves as garbage free zones. Even large international companies began competing among themselves for consumer attention by offering to receive and in some cases buy back their products once they were no longer useful. They would recycle them, refurbish them, reuse them, anything to avoid creating garbage. Small second hand stores sprang up all over and people started renting things they really didn't need to buy. Fix-it guys became the most important job around here and they were actually able to make a living wage!

The mayor sent all of the garbage collectors and trucks to work for recycling companies, which gave them quite a boost. With a glut of recyclable material, it became cheaper than virgin material in most cases so business picked up even further.

Now that some time has passed, people see garbage in a totally new light. In fact, the idea is almost completely absurd and it seems that is what the mayor wanted to get across. People lose sight of the fact that we are part of the earth's natural cycles once we see ourselves as something separate from all other living and inert things. That line of thought progresses to the point that we feel we can throw something where we no longer have to deal with it. This becomes a blind spot that bothers our intuition in the best of cases and just becomes a non reality for everybody else.

Our mayor hit us over the head with our blind spot and helped us become more integrated with the Earth's natural cycles. The concept of garbage no longer exists here to the extent that we can reject wasteful products from other cities. Industries haven't changed as much as we would like because they depend on distant markets and can't really treat our town as a special case. Recently the mayor has contracted companies to turn organic and body waste into bio-fuels for all government vehicles, so we are pretty excited about that. We are hopeful, though, that our culture of integration and garbage-less waste will be contagious to nearby towns and cities so our region can be greener and more beautiful.

07 December 2008

Carbon Credit Offset Project in Ecuador

My wife made this video for Piqqo, a European company that provides exposure for emissions trading projects that need funding. End-users of Piqqo buy carbon credits to offset emissions from their business or lifestyle.

She really enjoyed producing this video and we learned a lot about certificates awarded by the U.N. for important environmentally friendly projects.

We don't buy sugar, though. We only consume sugar-cane in the house because it is a lot healthier. So, this sugar production plant may be energetically self-sufficient, but it would provide even more benefit to the community if it stopped processing sugar-cane into sugar.

Enjoy the video!