Two recent experiences have left me re-evaluating my understanding of sustainability on a global scale, and modifying the approach I was taking in my own life.
Firstly, I watched the documentary ‘Waste Land’ that follows artist Vik Muniz create an inspiring art project in Brazil’s Jardim Gramacho, which until its closure in 2012 was the world’s largest landfill.
I also recently read ‘Zero Waste Home’ by Bea Johnson which was prompted by getting down to one bag of rubbish per week (which I am now determined to do regularly, and hope to reduce even further in the future). One of the many insights that I took away from the book was Bea Johnson’s point on how recycling should be the last option. I now realise that many people, myself included, misunderstand where recycling should rank in the hierarchy of sustainability, as the products made from recycled material are more than often non-recyclable, as well as wasting resources and creating toxic by-products in their manufacture. Remember waste doesn’t start at your bin – it starts the moment you buy a packaged product, so either refuse it, reuse it (2 of the 5 R’s from Johnson’s book), or find an alternative.
I have also become acutely aware that living a sustainable lifestyle is a continuum and an ongoing learning experience. It can’t be achieved instantly, but that is what makes it so enjoyable, the satisfaction gained with each new insight and achievement on the journey.