Well, I think that yesterday I hinted it might be time to tackle the garbage issue that is hovering over Nanaimo like a late February rain cloud. It’s really quite simple: we have garbage. A private company wants to build a very expensive incinerator in our industrial park to burn the garbage and turn it into energy. On the surface, this seems like a fine idea. Those for it, say it will create jobs, make money, add to the industrial tax base – all the usual pro-industry arguments. Those against, cite more pollution and, even more important to my mind, the disincentive to recycle and reuse our waste.
However, I think that both burning and reusing are, essentially, the usual bandaid solution. We love bandaids in our society. And our bandaids are driving us into deeper and deeper debt. Lets look at the plethora of train derailments of late. The bandaid? Lets bury the d, clean up the toxic spills and rebuild the town. Wouldn’t it make more sense to prevent such things from happening in the first place by keeping our infrastructure up to snuff and doing regular safety inspections?
Oil spills? Bandaids – cleaning up those spills. How about preventing them? Yes, it can be done – and it takes tremendous political will.
Health care emergencies? It takes a lot more money to treat heart disease and diabetes than to prevent disease by eating right and getting exercise. But that’s not about to happen when we have the vested interests of Doritos and Cheetos telling us to chow down on snack food – and people who want to stay on teh couch and trust that there’ll be a magic pill to make us healthy.
Let’s get back to the trash burning. How much more sense does it make to stop producing so much garbage in the first place. Let’s start with packaging – that’s where so much of it comes from. We really don’t need all this plastic and cardboard and who knows what else that our “stuff” comes wrapped in. Not long ago I bought a neck warming thing – just a simple piece of cloth – it was wrapped around a huge piece of cardboard – why? Why do tiny little gizmos in a tech store come packaged inside a monster piece of near-impenetrable plastic? Oh – to stop theft, I have heard. Well. for heaven’s sake, put it behind a counter and have a clerk get it for you. Oh – but then we’d have to hire someone. Excellent – we need more jobs and besides, the cost might be covered by the savings you get by eliminating all that crazy packaging.
Why don’t we simply go to the cause instead of putting on bandaids and hoping for a magic pill. It costs so much more to fix something that could have been prevented. Let’s look at climate change. It’s no secret that the longer we kick that can down the road, the more expensive it gets. The cost of saving drowning cities is just plain nuts. Unfortunately, our politicians look to getting re-elected, not to making a difference. For them long-term thinking is four years down the road. We need to look at least four generations forward.
We must stop bandaiding. Let’s stop producing garbage. Let’s invest in renewable energy technology. It was the First Nations people who said it best – with every decision we make, we have to consider how it will echo down the halls of the future – as far as seven generations.