After moving to New York, I completely turned into a garbage collector.
Nobody has more things than me under my desk in studio. I have a stack of Trader Joe’s paper bags, variety sizes of plastic bags, air cushion, small pieces of foam and wood, paper which only used a single side, etc. I know that I probably have no chance to use them, or my using speed will be much slower than it accumulates. However, they look nice, brand new, should be used several more times. I can’t throw them away. I don’t know what I should do.
In China, in order to control pollution, all the plastic bags are charged. And as serious pollution in paper making industry, paper bags are relatively less popular. So we used to buy some plastic bags with high quality, and keep using them for a long time. If I forget to bring my own plastic bag for shopping, I prefer to carry what I bought just by hand, or put them in my pocket. Although the process can be very hard, I think I did something for sustainability, which makes me feel very happy.
But not all people reuse their plastic for sustainable reasons, but just for saving money. As supermarkets often offer some small plastic bags for free to pack vegetables, many people grab lots of them home. As for sustainable development, such acts may damage the meaning of the plastic limit order.
I think waste separation is the most direct action to improve people’s awareness of sustainability. I have to admit, waste classification still needs to be improved in China. As labor price is relatively low, waste separation is usually in garbage recycling process. However, I think if users can involve in the waste separation, it will be better. It can not only saving the recycling cost, but can also improve people’s participation. For example, if I didn’t measure my weekly energy use in this course, I would never know how much energy I consume. Therefore, if everyone participates in the sorting and cleaning work, people will know how much waste they make, and how difficult to recycle them, so that they can make less waste.
Then let’s go back to the plastic bag. In this field trip I also learned that the plastic bag is difficult to recycle. As some plastic bags are not clean enough, you need to wash them before recycling. Moreover, they are also not heavy enough to use sorting equipment. Therefore I think about the waste separation and recycling methods in Japan that all garbage are being classified and cleaned before throwing out. In this way, it can be much easier to recycle.
As people’s concept may cost a long time, as a POD students, I’m thinking about doing speculative deign to make sense. For example, we can collect the clean plastic bags we use in a week, dissolve them and make them into small toys, and distribute them to everyone in the exhibition. We can also set up a clean bag recycle system at a particular time, and set up a activity on social network. Just like Earth Hour, even if the contribution of the hour is very limited, it can improve everyone’s sense of sustainability.