Consumer cultures are marked by their wastefulness. In fact, the thing they are best at producing is prodigious waste.
Wastefulness serves an unfortunate purpose - It indicates to ourselves and others that we are rich and have an abundance, extra, more than enough, a surplus. An extreme example would be lighting a cigar with a hundred dollar bill, but there are endless other less dramatic ways of being wasteful in every day life.
Using waste to elevate our status is unlikely to continue for long. It is unethical, uneconomical, inefficient and not very smart. This is where the zero waste movement comes in.
"Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.
Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health."
- Zero Waste International Alliance, 2004
If we want to do the right thing all we need to do is observe nature and mimic her ways. When we do this we quickly see that there is no waste in nature.
If there is no waste in nature, there can be no waste in the human world.
The current life cycle assessment of manufactured products known as 'cradle to grave' which tracks products from manufacture to disposal, must be replaced with 'cradle to cradle' which eliminates the disposal phase entirely.
Let there be a 'War on Waste' in our efforts toward becoming a Zero Waste world.