Waste nothing

A series on Bonzer e-magazine.    http://www.bonzer.org.au/?page_id=1355

1. Introduction to Waste-Watch – On Wasting nothing http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/47/waste-nothing.html

2 Not wasting plastic bags Oct 2005. Waste-Watch at http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/48/waste-nothing.html

3 Waste Nothing at Christmas – Nov 2005 Waste Watch at http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/49/

4. Waste no pleasures – December 2005 -  Waste-Watch at http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/50/

5. Keep your cool without waste - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/51/

6. Washing machines alternatives. March06 http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/52

7 Waste no food http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/53

8. Ends for Odds http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/56

9. No waste of petrol/gasoline http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/58

10. Waste no trees,paper. July&October http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/59

12.Waste no exercise Nov 2006 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/60 This is worth having in full.

13. No waste at Christmas 2006 – Enjoy every minute! http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/61

14 Science in the home. Experiments in wasting nothing - Feb 2007 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/62

15. Waste no brains – April 2007 http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/64

16 Waste no carbon emissions, May 2007 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/65

17. No Waste Fashions, June 2007 http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/66/waste-nothing.html

18. Waste no money.July 2007 http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/67/waste-nothing.html

19.Waste no abilities August 2007 http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/68/waste-nothing.html

20.Waste no Animals .September 2007 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/70/waste-nothing.html

21. Nineteen Re-use and Recycling Tips Nov 2007 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/71/waste-nothing.html

22.Christmas Gifts and Thrift December 2007 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/72/waste-nothing.html

23 Index of Waste Nothing  book Feb2008- http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/73/waste-nothing.html

24 Waste no Lawns March 2008 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/74/waste-nothing.html

25. Waste no wood April 2008 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/75/waste-nothing.html

26. Waste no pleasures May 2008 - http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/76/waste-nothing.html

27 Waste no history, June 2008  http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/77/waste-nothing.html

28 Sewage No Waste, July 2008, http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/78/waste-nothing.html

29 Waste no kitchen scraps August 2008: http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/79/waste-nothing.html

30 Waste no furniture Sept.2008. http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/80/waste-nothing.html

31 Waste of Growth October2008. http://www.archives.bonzer.org.au/81/waste-nothing.html

32 Waste  Living in Times of Unprecedented change. November.doc

http://www.wordandnumberpuzzles.com/bonzer/82/waste-nothing.html

33. No waste of effort  December 2008.http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=796

34 No waste of yourself March 2009. http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=2300

34. Wasteful products and customer power.  May 2009. http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=5590

35 Waste no time. July 2009. http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=7282

37. Waste no spelling and learning time. August 2009 http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=9697

38. No Waste of learners. Sept 2009 http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=10715

39. No Waste of the elderly. October 2009 http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=11686

40. No Waste of babies. November 2009 http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=13261

41 No Waste of the Past. December 2009 http://www.bonzer.org.au/?p=13854

 42 Waste Nothing New Feb 2010.doc

43 Waste no Waste for March, 2010.doc

44 War as waste. April 2010.doc

45. Preventing waste of fish, May 2010.doc

 Further episodes appear monthly online at the e-magazine www.bonzer.org.au

The econmomic consequences of cutting waste to reduce carbon emissions

The most drastic and rapid reduction of carbon emissions is by cutting waste. About half of everything produced is wasted at some stage. That is, it becomes rubbish before it need be.

The problem about cutting waste is what happens to the economy if the production of rubbish is halted.  As Premer Iemmu of New South Wales has said, there is no point in saving the planet if the economy is wrecked.

Capitalism runs on continual growth. At first its production was like filling up an almost empty cup.  Economic growth has raised living standards, public health and quality of life across the world. Now it has reached a stage of excess. Our particular cup brims over, although capitalism has not yet   eliminated world poverty because the profits tend to follow the Matthew principle and compound in sinks. Today the motor of capitalism depends upon growth in the affluent societies. If the people of the United States do not spend by wasting more than they need, the world economy is in trouble.  

That is the economic reason why carbon trading is receiving the greatest attention as a way to reduce carbon emissions, and even  carbon taxing is not.  Carbon trading gives opportunities for business growth, in opportunities to continue emitting, and in fortunes to be made in arranging and carrying on the business of trading? 

The focus on carbon-trading as a strategy in tackling climate change is also a tactic to evade the real action that is essential, in cutting the production of what will only be wasted, and waste as a way to save labor costs.

However, capitalism has evolved, and can evolve. It is possible for the mechanisms of capitalism to adapt to a stable economy that does not require waste. In the beginning it relied on thrift and saving, and now to a large extent relies on waste, excess and debt. But, its characteristic of enterprise can still be enterprising.

Capitalist and Marxist economic theories both have regarded the factors in production to be two, capital and labour, which use resources assumed to be infinite. Now resources must be reckoned with as the third factor, as ‘future cost’, what the future must pay for what we use and waste today.  If supplies are to continue, market forces must take account of ‘future cost’, not only of immediate supply and demand.

Two effects of this will be to radically change the relative purchase prices of goods and services, and relative wage and salary scales. The ‘sustainable household’ as described by the Australian economist Graeme Snooks, will be of equivalent significance to the market.

Future cost as a concept must help to direct the intensive search that is on for more environmentally-friendly sources of energy than fossil fuels. Some developments may be dangerous, such as biofuels for the transport of the rich, when they are at the costs of less agricultural produce to feed the poor, and of wrecking the fertility of the earth.

A parallel action must be to waste less of the energy that we can source. Not just individuals turning off lights. There must be less motor and air traffic, more rail and sea freight. More durable products, without built-in obsolescence or unrepairability. Using less paper to save more forests than hugging can achieve. Thorough-going salvage at every stage in the wrecking and building industries. No more food ending up in dumpsters off to landfill.

The crunch then comes, not yet mentioned in green handbooks.  What then of jobs and profits? Cut waste in half, cut jobs in half? What, no growth in GDP?

 No, there are different sorts of jobs.  If all that needs  to be done were being done, there would be no unemployment.  Economists could do useful work in working out how to pay for useful jobs to replace the wasteful ones. These useful jobs include research, development and innovative production in harnessing sun, wind and tides; innovative infrastructure such as the long overdue replacement of our present water-hungry fertiliser-wasting sewerage systems; innovative products that do not need constant replacement because they are durable, repairable and updateable, requiring skills and maintenance labor to achieve this; and human services that can be the most important thing for quality of life in a community.  As capitalism is rejigged to become less hungry but still enterprising, the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission  acronym, ACCC, will stand for the benefits of Co-operation as well as Competition, for Users, rather than mere Consumers or Devourers.

It is possible for every individual to calculate their own environmental footprint upon the earth, measured in the hectares required to supply all the resources used by each specific individual, directly and indirectly  (http://www.bestfootforward.com/footprintlife.htm)

It should also be possible for each of us to calculate our own Rubbish Footprint upon the earth.  That is, how much of our footprint is actually Waste – from the forgotten remnant overlong in the frig, to the furnishings tipped out because we couldn’t bother taking them to the charity shop, and the problematic smudgy areas of the unnecessary plane travel and the environmental damage from the 4-wheel-drive crashing through the creek-banks and raising dust as shown in the glossy advertisements.

And what about the numbers game?  Is there with current technology still an irreducible minimum of carbon emissions and environmental

cost for a human being to have any quality of life? Standards must certainly become higher than they are at present for the bottom two billion in the world, but much lower than Australia’s present standards, which have been estimated to require five planets to support if extended world-wide.

 

What, also, about the contribution of the overseas poor to ecological problems? Their goats help to extend deserts; their wells take the groundwater. What alternatives can they have for sheer survival?  Selling commodities and biofuels to developed countries in return for needed manufactures is liable to be at the cost of their own previous agricultural sustainability. Millions already depend upon imported food-aid; what happens as the food production of the world’s breadbaskets is starting to decrease?

Population growth is still estimated to increase by a third by 2050 to 9 billion, despite slowing in rates of growth. The statistical fact is that a population of say 1 million increasing at a lower rate of 1.5% still adds a greater number of people per annum than a population of say 100,000 increasing at a higher rate of 5%. With climate change, water shortages may be only one of many worries exacerbated by population growth. What can a country like Australia do about that as we hit a mere 21 million?  Our national pro-natalist policy is supposedly for fear of the burden of supporting the elderly (but see the evidence against this as a bogey – there are possible solutions).  Consequences of our self-enhancement are that, firstly, Australia cannot with a straight face assist our neighbouring countries with the stabilising population polices they need to stave off visible economic and social disasters. The alternative aid of providing seasonal work in Australia or immigration to economic refugees has serious consequences and difficulties as numbers grow. Secondly, children in larger families that are produced because of financial encouragements have a statistically greater chance of disadvantage, being more likely to be born to parents less able to give sufficient care to for them all.  The national interest is to promote the welfare of two-children families (sufficient replacement today) to give every child the best possible opportunities and care. Children’s lives must not be wasted on economic-political-religious altars.

Government and business planning is still continuing as if there is to be a tomorrow, and that tomorrow just like this one. In the Australian State of Victoria, the government needs to think again about a project to deepen the Port Bay shipping channel to facilitate mega-containers, which may also facilitate sea-level rises and tidal surges in the Bay.  Indeed, and two other features of climate change may be that super-shipping may become of no economic advantage, even for Victoria’s shrinking primary-product exports, and loss of the present economic and quality-of-life-advantages of the Bay may be regretted.

 Next, base-load power stations could be fired with natural gas rather than brown coal. Yes, and use of that power could be halved by cutting waste - waste in production, waste in use, and waste in chucking out.

Next, new freeway and road tunnels may be put on hold since the climate may be unable to afford continuing pollution, emissions and waste of resources even with our  present traffic levels. The construction industry may be mollified by investment in rail infrastructure; Australia might even turn its threatened automotive industry to producing thrifty accessory ‘citicars’ for most 1-2 occupant private transport. Universal urban roof-water conservation, re-using industrial water, radical innovations in sewerage and cutting reckless private waste can accompany solar innovation, rather than present-technology desalination plants and reckless use of groundwater with their environmental costs. 

People readily see impossibilities in what needs to be done.  Yet humans have in the past achieved the impossible when desperate futures have required it – or they have gone into the dustbin of wasted civilisations. A further waste.

References:

Waste Nothing: Personal and Political Responses to climate change. Manuscript. 2007.

Population references.