Monday, June 2, 2014

Trash, a docoumentary film

Friday night I saw a documentary called Trash (or maybe Trashed). I believe there is also a similar documentary called Garbage.  This one covers a wide swath of the trash/garbage business, from the floating garbage in a gyre in the Pacific Ocean, to everyone's local recycling, trash/garbage removal (including our bad habits as a throw away society and the disgraceful planned obsolescence of many things we buy from cars to cell phones).

Land fills and other kinds of waste disposal are big business (as I knew years ago when I read about investing in waste companies). I was  most surprised and a bit shocked that in the State of Michigan, landfills are so  aggressive they have contracts with the city of Toronto to get rid of some 400 truck loads of garbage (I mean bit semitrucks, not local garbage trucks) of garbage a week (or was it a day?). Canada has far stricter landfill and waste disposal laws than does Michigan!!  And NAFTA encourages such cross border trade.

I was also familiar with the "freegan" movement in NYC where people go through garbage bags on the sidewalks of the city,  extract food food and use it (for themselves--there are strict laws about what food excesses, as from grocery stores and restaurants, can be donated to food kitchens and such). The freegans find all sorts of usable food, much in its original packaging, unopened, that has been thrown out.  I know this first hand from living in an apartment building where I often walked down seven fights of stairs  past the garbage  cans and bags where I saw whole jars or peanut butter (unopened), bags of rice, boxes of cereal, being thrown out.  Now and then I helped myself. The Freegans in the film were not homeless or jobless people, they were activists who sought publicity as they looked through garbage bags.

After the film local activists talked about Cape Cod's garbage disposal practices. I knew there is a daily "garbage train" that takes waste off Cape.  It goes to a plant that is somewhat behind the curve in disposal and recycling technology.  Plus there are movements to change bottle recycling laws and so forth.  This is a fairly enlightened place but several local garbage haulers have quite a bit of political clout when local recycling laws are being considered. Nothing is simple, of course. 


barbara cecelia said...

June -- Being a Michigander originally I knew about the Canada/Michigan landfill trade. It seemed as if folks in Michigan didn't seem to think anything of the land damage??? Good deal for Canada. Bad for Michigan. I believe the food laws are written to waste food to make money for the food industry. And, I knew a man that had a small trash collection business in upstate Michigan that was strong armed by the corporate landfill owners and even threatened unless he followed their policies. Sort of a Mafia type corporate. Everyone has their finger in the food business for their profit and many of the buyers of food sit smugly as they enjoy their food not thinking what it takes to get it and to send the remains away.Very good post -- barbara

Lynn Guardino said...

200I go nuts when I see the waste and it worsens every day. Am I the only dork who tries to recycle those trays that they give out so freely at Dunkin Donuts (I bring coffee to my father as our way of communicating)? Do we really need those plastic "clam shells" for everything we buy? Went for lunch at a very small place on Saturday and our gyros were delivered to our table in plastic boxes, despite the fact that we were seated less than 10 feet away from the serving area!!! Hire a dishwasher folks!

June Calender said...

Thanks, Barbara. The Mafia type tactics are not surprising, there is big money in that business and the little guy doesn't have much of a chance.

Lynn, you're so right about over packaging. The problem is so much bigger than anything we can do about it.