December 22, 2010 | General

Editorial: Waste Appreciation Year

BioCycle December 2010, Vol. 51, No. 12, p. 4
Nora Goldstein

Hear ye, hear ye! We proclaim 2011 Waste Appreciation Year. Join millions upon millions of people around the world who appreciate the value of the resources in their waste stream and take all steps necessary to prevent their disposal through maximum diversion and utilization.
We further proclaim that all those who still have the luxury to choose between wasting waste or utilizing waste – hereby referred to as resources – take advantage of the knowledge, existing infrastructure and sheer pleasure and satisfaction of making new from old, of feeding the soil to feed ourselves and our fellow citizens, and of saving money instead of throwing it away.
What, you may be wondering, is this all about? In a nutshell, 2011 is the pivotal year to switch the momentum toward resource utilization and away from resource disposal. In many countries around the world, this is happening out of sheer desperation – scavenging for and selling recyclables in the waste stream in order to feed families, utilizing every scrap of organic waste either to provide some nutrients to infertile soil or else burning it for cooking or heating. In developed nations such as the United States, these resources are not assigned their true value and therefore there are few incentives – on Wall Street or Main Street, on Capitol Hill, at the White House or in state houses and city halls – to switch the momentum in a meaningful and permanent way.
Why 2011? Why not? We must shift the dialogue and debate in a rapid and tangible way to make resource utilization permanent. Truly, what this is about is availability of natural resources. Many parts of the world are running out, or already have. Others are using them at such a rapid pace on the road to becoming industrialized nations that they are on a slippery natural resources slope. And then you have countries like the U.S. that are blissfully ignoring the balance of nature, continuing to consume and not replenish, dispose and not reuse, always figuring we can drill or hydrofrack more, pour on more chemicals to make the soil grow plants, etc.
We are working on the agenda for BioCycle Global 2011, our International Conference on Composting, Organics Recycling and Renewable Energy, April 11-14, 2011 in San Diego, California. Together with colleagues from around the world, we are creating sessions that highlight solutions to sustainable natural resources management, focusing in part on communities that are using existing knowledge and infrastructure to redirect resources from disposal to utilization. These communities are creating and sustaining local enterprises with products that can be sold locally and in the global marketplace.
The good news is that we are not starting from scratch. We have the tools in hand to switch the momentum. We are lacking a bit on the will (especially on the part of elected officials and traditional industries), but leading by example, household by household, community by community, country by country, we will – and we must – appreciate our wastes as resources, doing our part to ensure global sustainability.

Sign up