Notebook

The Age of waste

What will be the epitaph for the late 20th early 21st century. A possible candidate is surely the Age of Waste. Never before has waste and excessive consumption been so rampant. Twenty years, domestic garage was collected weekly in a modest size bin. Today, it is two wheelie bins - one for waste and the other for recycling. While recycling is commendable, the volume points to the amount of material that is used for packaging or as containers.

In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald Weekend Magazine (10 June 2006), Fenella Souter presented some alarming statistics on waste in Australia. In 2004 Australians spent $5.3 billion on food we did not eat!! That includes fresh food, uneaten takeaways, leftovers, frozen food. This amount equates to about $260 per person in Australia per year. But food is only one part of the equation of waste - clothes, electronic equipment, mobile phones, cars - the list goes on and on. Partly the problem is the cheapness of goods and so it becomes so much easier to buy something new rather that repair or re-condition.

At the moment little thought is given to the long term consequences. But all of the world’s population cannot go on consuming and waste at the current rate. It surely is time to be more prudent about how much we consume and waste less.