A Linear Waste Disposal System On A Finite Planet?

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Annie Leonard, an activist and filmmaker from Seattle, Washington, finally got fed up with observing how her trash, whether recycled or dumped, completed a linear waste disposal system. So, Annie asked herself:

Hmm, if we continue to follow the waste process of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, disposal, we will most certainly deplete society of all of its natural resources that took billions of years to create underneath Earth's crust.

Leonard created a program that includes a website, blog, video, and data to support her efforts to stop the current Story of Stuff we experience in the U.S. and abroad today.

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What and where are they? While Annie provides 10 easy solutions for all of us to follow, I encourage the readers to take her challenge to a higher level of thinking. I recommend that we adopt more of a European mindset about possessions. When they purchase clothing, they intend to wear it until it wears out. When they build a home, it is designed to be passed down to as many generations as is possible. I walked the streets of many French towns where the stone steps leading to several apartments were the original steps built in the Medieval Ages, no kidding.

We need to promote green building materials and techniques along with the concept of longevity and, most importantly, the idea of durability.
How long will your home last?
How long will that building you just designed (or constructed) last?
Not long enough is my editorialized guess.


The Story of Stuff Facts:
  • In the past three decades, one-third of the planet’s natural resource base has been consumed.
  • In the United States, we have less than 4% of our original forests left.
  • Forty percent of waterways in the U.S. have become undrinkable.
  • The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 30% of the world’s resources, and creates 30% of the world’s waste.
  • If everybody consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets.
  • There are over 100,000 synthetic chemicals in commerce today.
  • Only a handful of synthetic chemicals have even been tested for human health impacts and NONE have been tested for synergistic health impacts.
  • In the U.S., industry admits to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year.
  • The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago.
  • In the U.S., we spend 3–4 times as many hours shopping as our counterparts in Europe do.
  • The average U.S. house size has doubled since the 1970s.
  • Each person in the United States makes 4 1/2 pounds of garbage a day. That is twice what we each made thirty years ago.
  • For every one garbage can of waste you put out on the curb, 70 garbage cans of waste were made upstream to make the junk in that one garbage can you put out on the curb.


Stephanie Aurora Lewis

Stephanie, an NCARB registered architect and LEED AP, draws upon her studies in architectural history and theory from Sarah Lawrence College and her master’s degree in architecture from The Ohio State University. Providing copy for publications and performing marketing work for the construction industry, Stephanie works as an independent freelancer from Columbus, Ohio.

Website: greengaloredesigner.blogspot.com/
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