Much has been written about the consequences of the phrase throw things away. The fact that “away” seems to eliminate the problem, and visibility, of waste has been accused of contributing to our typically consumptive lifestyles. However, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of research that addresses the psychology of away.
One link I have found online (although there is no research listed to back it up) is the marketing machine that first linked affluence with disposability. This isn’t just about people who can afford more being wiling to buy more, but that the idea that you could waste was indicative of your economic status. “Washing dishes takes so much work, just throw them away instead.” Certainly, it could be argued that this has continued with the planned obsolescence in so much of our technology today. You must have the newest technology because you want to be seen as up-to-date.
Another one that is commonly mentioned is the idea that “away” is some sort of magical place where waste won’t impact us. This makes me think a little bit of Not In My Backyard (NIMBY), where people will fight against something if it is destined to be within their backyard/community/living space, but don’t care about it anywhere else. Nobody cares where “away” is, so long as it isn’t in their backyard.
So, with Christmas in the recent past what are some of the solutions to Throwing it Away?
- freeze it. With all the safety and legal concerns (real or imagined) it is hard to give away left overs, so pop them into the freezer (in a reusable container of course) and save them for a day when you don’t mind eating a little more turkey.
- have a leftovers party. Get everyone you know together and share your leftovers. Perhaps you make something someone else has never tried. Or together you have a full meal, while on your own you’d just have to make more to make a complete meal.
- Drop unopened cans and packages at you local foodbank.
- Store it for next year
- Donate it to others
- Find a local charity that will take the items you are getting rid of. Places to consider include women’s shelters, youth shelters, reuse centres, habitat for humanity, etc. You may even be able to donate some old toys to a local animal shelter. Keep in mind the Syrian Refugees as well.
We often forget that recycle is the last of our “R’s”. Make sure you reduce and reuse (or enable someone else to reuse) first.