Wading through the waste, and the despair

Last week, the IPCC’s sixth assessment of climate change was released, and it’s frankly terrifying. Which honestly just feels like a lot to take in, after living with COVID-19 for almost two years, and a summer of heat domes and wildfires, residential school revelations, Afghanistan, insurgencies, police brutality, all the upheaval. It’s like, really, MORE? I’m not sure my nervous system can digest this. Interestingly, I haven’t had a single conversation with anyone about it. Like it’s landed to crickets and radio silence and I can only assume that no-one really has the capacity. It’s just too big. And there’s only a few more weeks of summer and can I not just enjoy a drinkie by the pool for a few days more?


Two things.

The first, wraps up our explorations last week of Zero Waste living.

In 2020 the Squamish Regional District conducted a Waste Composition Audit to get a better understanding of what people are putting in the garbage. 

Here are the results from the Pemberton Waste Transfer Station:

33% of the waste sent to landfill was recyclable, 38.3% was compostable and 28.7% was actual waste. 

A total of 71.3% of the waste could have been diverted from landfill through recycling or composting.

10% of the compostable organics was avoidable food waste

The second comes from the Zero Waste Chef, Anne Marie Bonneau, who responded to the news with a list of things we can do, including the urge not not give in to climate doomism. “We have the tools in hand now to address the climate crisis. And every time we prevent greenhouse gas emissions from entering our atmosphere, we reduce just how hot the climate gets.” And, she said, you must still eat.

Wasted food accounts for between 8 and 10 percent of manmade greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN Food Waste Index Report 2021. Slashing your food waste boosts your bank account, inspires creativity in the kitchen and results in tastier dishes.

And books are always a wonderful refuge. Here’s her list of reads: https://zerowastechef.com/2021/08/12/media-picks-coping-ipcc-assessment-ecoanxiety/

Progress not perfection is what we’re about here… Baby steps. Incrementalism. Little moves, facing the right direction, to add up to great gains. Let’s just turn and face the future we want to live in. Dream it up. Catch a vision of it. In my vision of it, everyone sits down at the end of the day to a healthy plate of food. It’s enough to satisfy and nourish them. It’s fresh, delicious, mostly plant-based, deeply local and seasonal. Their eyes light up, their tongues tingle, they feel energized. And when they’re done, any scraps get scraped into the compost bin and become soil to nourish the gardens next season. I dream that we create a generation of super creative makers, like a ton of artists I follow, who work not with raw materials, but with pre-existing materials, scraps, leftovers, recyclables, repurposing and reinventing things and feeling immense pleasure in our creative expression and inventiveness. I dream a future where Nature gets to sigh with relief as we all being to move a bit more slowly, and start to take real pleasure, leisurely pleasure in our lives. We cut our to-do lists in half. We cut our debt. We cut our work weeks to no more than 4 days, and our work years take a long summer break… all of us. Everyone. We have time for conversations on the street corner, we have time to make more food from scratch, we have time to read a book for fun, we have time to compost and divert our garbage, because we’ve stopped rushing from fool’s mission to deadline to overwork and over programming… and we learn to breathe again. That’s the vision I’m holding. What’s yours?

Art by Erin Stewart Elliott

2 thoughts on “Wading through the waste, and the despair

  1. finafunk says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for sharing, again. Yeah all my friends and hubby, the big time contractor guy, are tired of me talking about it, so I’m thankful to know there is at least one with whom I can express my grief!

    My husband went fishing this weekend, and I ended up crying in despair last night as I scrolled alone in the darkness with only the blue light as company after purposely looking up ‘floods’ and ‘wildfires’ so I would see where in the world those words are in the news. Yes, I am a weirdo administering self-punishment for my ecological sins.

    It turns out our fires are but a blip on the magnitude of BC compared to some countries’ fires, while the Siberian wildfire smoke cover is more than all the other countries’ put together. Don’t even look at central continental South America or Africa – both with the same encroaching savannah/desert completely engulfed; oh speaking of which, the latest news? Amazon is becoming a savannah – nice work non-indigenous farmers! Oops I could get in a lot of trouble saying things like that around here…

    At the same time, most of Northern Europe has had some majorly disastrous flooding the past week and subsequent landslides. Japan, China, North Korea? The same: massive flooding and landslides too.

    Then there’s Haiti – another huge earthquake. All within a few days.

    Personally, I think She is having to resort to drastic measures to force our population to get back on track living. Bloody. Sustainably.

    Its happened before (Great Flood) so I am trying to think of it as a good thing so today’s civilization will actually do something about it 🙏🙏🙏🤞🤞🤞🤞 and protect our Mother Planet. And it’s a heck of a lot more than just recycling, that should be a given and under fines for not! But it’s doable.

    To cheer myself up before I turned off the hot electrical device burning my hand and my heart, I looked up solutions for climate change, and there are some! One important one is that we all immediately have to get rid of our cars or switch to electric – this is the biggest way we can stop the wave of heat and then flooding and then landslides about to wash over the whole planet. Becoming vegetarian or a localovore (sp?) is another big one. Duh. That’s why I keep saying to hubby we need to get some chickens.

    Who’s in?!? Hmm however, is it wise to go into debt so I can drive the ubiquitous tesla? (Yes it is! But can mine be a shinier paint job?)

    Not even the billionaires in one of their many waterfront mansions can avoid all that thrown at them. And don’t get me started on how there’s nothing us average non-multi-millionaires can do to make a difference, if the multi-millionaires and billionaires continue their reckless, selfish extravaganza lifestyles.

    Sorry did you say Bezos can give every single Amazon employee a bonus of $1200 from the interest he earns in a day, or was it in an hour??? And Bill Gates is now the owner of the largest amount of agricultural land in the world? I guess I really shouldn’t feel so awfully about my ecological sins.

    But note to self: don’t read about floods and wildfires when you are about to go to bed!

    Oh, one more positive I stumbled onto last night: Sasquatch exists!! How cool … https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=w4PNYMfbmVk

    Thank you kindly,

    • Lisa Richardson says:

      Sarah, thank you for sharing… So appreciated. I honour your grief! Thank you for feeling it. I have a sense that grief in the world needs to move through a human to metabolize and transform, and we have been living in a culture for hundreds of years (those of us who are from colonized and colonizing cultures, at any rate) that doesn’t get this, and that avoids grief and hard uncomfortable things at all cost. So your moment of grief is a service to the earth.. it frees up a little bit of space to heal, feel joy, renew, regenerate… and process a bit more. I also share your sense that Life/Gaia/Earth is saying to us: PEOPLE! you’ve got to stop sweeping everything under the carpet… you’ve got to stop sticking your fingers in your ears and going nanananananana… you’ve got to stop limping along as if nothing is wrong, and turn, en masse, as bravely as you can, towards healing…
      I have this Mother Teresa quote on my computer:
      “we serve life not because it is broken,
      but because it is holy.”
      I’m doing this free online program right now, the Spiral of the Work that Reconnects, at activehope.training, that provides a really helpful frame for navigating the grief and feeling empowered to respond… I was thinking about doing a week long themed takeover talking about it, cos’ i’m kind of obsessed right now haha, but also, it doesn’t help people to sound a fire alarm in their faces and scream “WE HAVE TO ACT NOW WE HAVE TO ACT NOW OR WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE DEAD” because, no-one actually knows what to do in that degree of panic. We need to cultivate a more grounded stance to work from… and I think we have to do that in some form of community, because that’s a huge part of the feeling of groundedness and resilience and resourcefulness… KNOWING that we’re not tasked to do this alone. One of the beautiful things that comes out of the course is this question : what is your work to do? AND what is trying to happen through you. It’s a lovely gentle reframe away from the overly heroic idea that we need to singlehandedly do it all alone. We can’t. But we can invite Life to work through us, to grieve through us, to create through us…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s