Lessons from Dumpster Diving: treat your trash with care!

This is the first Freegan Kolektiva’s article from international guest contributors. We can only be thankful and enhearten more people to join the FK hub for constructive dialogue. This article comes from the Gleaner

Gee!! Anyone who has tried dumpster diving knows how the sight of a container full of stuff often brings out a smile among the gleaners. You have just saved a very solid amount of money and maybe you can even give some to your friends.

But the sight of some items can turn that smile sour in a heartbeat. The other night I discovered lots of cardboard, an electronic device and loads of glas bottles in the general trash bins of supermarkets. Note that all of these should have been put to recycling and it would not have been hard for the companies to do so.

We can’t hope for corporations to be ‘good citizens’ and do this just because it would be the ‘right thing to do’. They have been created for the purpose of making profit and their actions will follow that goal. So all of a sudden carrying the glass a few yards further to the recycling bin is not going to be walked, since it is not profitable!!

The best way to get people and companies to do recycling is to make it financially advantageous. Countries like Switzerland, where they have a system where you pay much more for throwing in the unsorted bin, have some of the highest rates in the world – no wonder! Another way to do it is to impose collectors fees or advanced recycling fees on items and so that people who return their things get some money back.

So it is all quite simple in the end. Give people money to act correctly and make them pay if they don’t is much better than putting up posters et.c. aking them to recycle. There should be collection fees on all kinds of glass, cardboard and batteries.

While food waste is easy to be eliminated (e.g. composted locally), electronics should be disposed correctly since they contain toxic substances (lead in TV screens, lead and mercury in computer screens, cadmium and lead in computer circuit boards, lithium in batteries etc.) [1]. If they just get dumped in the landfill, chemicals leach out and pollute our soils, streams, rivers, groundwater etc.

Nonetheless, we would also like to encourage people to reuse and recycle. Every product has been assembled with a lot of human labour using valuable materials from environmental resource stocks. Even when its ‘life cycle’ as a product ends, the materials remain. We can ‘feel’ a bit beyond the economic value and treat every object with care.



[1] Paperblog (2011). The importance of recycling electronics. Retrieved on the 2nd of February 2012 from: http://en.paperblog.com/the-importance-of-recycling-electronics-80401/


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