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There is no "away"

There is no away illustration: A 4 panel cartoon has a child asking a parent what to do with some trash or rubbish. The Dad says just throw it away. After some confusion the child chucks it off planet earth. The final panel reads: Oh wait. There is no "away"

It's a phrase I always grew up with: you throw rubbish and trash "away" and take what you don't need to "the dump" or "the tip." However, a comment in a nature documentary made me reevaluate:

"You can't throw anything away. There is no 'away'."

Unless we're throwing a leaf or some grass cuttings back on the lawn, it matters where what we've used ends up. It doesn't go away—it goes somewhere, and eventually, that somewhere will catch up with us.

This is why I think "the garbage dump" is better as "the Recycling centre." And we should try to only buy things that we make good use of. And we should try and repair when we can and, if possible, find another home for what we no longer need rather than "dump" it. And why we try to buy recycled products to give a market for those making them.

It can be hard work. It's easier and more fun to bring new, shiny things into my life than to find homes for older, less shiny things. But there is no "away." The effort will pay us back in the long run.

(I don't mean to get preachy about it, it's just the comment has stuck with me from the moment I heard it)

Also see: think cradle to cradle


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