No such thing as ‘away’

Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there…

William Bryant Logan, author of Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, recalls a conversation he had with Clark Gregory, a compost guru in central Florida, as he explains how he travels the country spreading the word about the value of composting:

     “We’ll just chip away a little at a time, and eventually nothing at will be going into the landfill anymore.”

     Aren’t there things that just have to be thrown away, I ask.

     “There’s no such place as ‘away’ “ he replies.

     “So all of those wastes from the farm, the home, the lumberyard, and the fishing boats shouldn’t be going to the landfill?”

     “It’s not waste,” says Gregory. “It’s not waste until it’s wasted.”

There is no such thing as ‘away’; no such thing as non-anthropogenic waste. Nature does not waste, it cycles and recycles.

It’s not that humans can’t be sustainable, it’s just that we won’t. We are like children, sitting in the corner with our arms crossed, a sour look on our faces, because our mothers tried to make us clean up the mess we made when we spilled the chocolate milk all over the table after a temper tantrum because we couldn’t have a second scoop of ice cream with our chocolate cake.

There’s a very practical origin to the saying “Mother knows best”. Maybe mother didn’t want us to have a second scoop of ice cream because she loves us and doesn’t want us to get a tummy ache. Maybe, just maybe, Mother Nature didn’t want us to discover oil, because she knew she couldn’t clean it up properly if one day we accidentally dumped it in the ocean. Maybe that’s why she put it down so deep in the first place.

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there…

Would you do to your baby, what you do to your ocean?



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