Just take a step back from your daily routine, and think a little bit more the basics of your life. You are working hard to survive. You are trying to support your family and relatives. You are interacting with your friends’ circle. Maybe, if you are more ambitious, you are trying to create something for which people will remember you, like a great song, an interesting book, a food you cook in a unique way. You do whatever you can and you want to do in order to create your own footprint in our world, your personal stamp to other human beings. On the long-term, for the vast majority of the people, your footprint will not last more than 50-100 years, actually it will not last more than your memory in people you met and interact with. But don’t worry, there is something that you are going to leave behind you and it will last for centuries. There is a legacy that will stay and remind everyone your own footprint. It’s called your own WASTE!
Actually this is the subject of a recent, interesting article at The Onion. The article explains in a nice way that the garbage created by the citizen Aaron Jacobson “will still be affecting society in significant ways centuries from now…(The) local resident ’s garbage will have a far greater impact on the world than he will.”
According to Kevin Wright, a researcher from Northwestern University “Basically, when the last person on earth with any memory of him dies—which by our calculation, is little more than 50 or 60 years away—the paint cans and single-serve coffee pods he’s thrown out will just be getting started. Future generations won’t know the name Aaron Jacobson, but rest assured, his garbage will leave a mark on each and every one of their lives”.
Just see how much time is required for the natural degradation of several garbage components and I am sure that next time you will have a Starbucks coffee you will think again, at least about the packaging.
Well, this is a sad truth. Unless you are Socrates and Einstein, your real legacy on earth, the one that will last for centuries, will be the waste you have generated! I am talking just for your waste footprint, but of course your human environmental footprint will be even more remarkable. Have a look at this great WWF video and you will have a better understanding about your environmental footprint.
Or think about the basic figures that represent an average American citizen, according the National Geographic. On an average lifetime, each American will produce 63 tonnes of waste, use 1.8 million gallons of water, and burn 31,350 gallons of gasoline!
There is a whole scientific methodology to calculate your own footprint and you can find it here. But if you do not want to go through, or you don’t have the time to do it right now, let’s keep it simple.
As I recently wrote “It’s about people, not waste“. It’s about the way we develop our relationship with materials and objects, it’s about the way we produce and consume products -it’s not about the technical elements and the materials themselves, although in many cases consumers can have a significant impact with the right choices.
So don’t forget. Your legacy = your waste
And always remember the wise New England proverb (later we named it Waste Hierarchy): Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.