Who produces garbage?

One of the results of the current garbage strike in Toronto is people stating that the strike shows you how much garbage we needlessly produce. Now it may sound like wordplay, but consumers rarely “produce” garbage. Consumers do throw out garbage. And if you consider that they fill up a bag, then that is a form of production (albeit a very weak one).

The problem with that is it gets companies off the hook, and I think that’s wrong. Really, the ones producing garbage are companies. Companies that sell their products with poor packaging choices cause the production of garbage. I would prefer as little, if any, packaging for the goods I purchase. And of the packaging I do get, why can’t I get it in a form I can recycle? That’s simple: companies don’t want to lose a competitive advantage with what they consider inferior packaging. And there are few penalties for them to produce goods this way. Likewise for the companies that distribute these products.

If a grocer sells me individual fruit and I use a plastic bag to carry them home and then throw away the bag, I am producing garbage. If a shoe store sells me shoes in a recyclable box and I throw it in the trash, I am producing garbage. But for alot of goods, I don’t have that choice. I could not buy them. A better option would be have as little packaging as possible, and of the packaging I do have,  I should be able to reuse or recycle it. 

2 responses to “Who produces garbage?

  1. Good points. One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve started shopping for the majority of my food at Farmer’s Markets (here in Portland), that we throw out A LOT less garbage. A lot less packaging, really. I often look at packaging and think “too much” or “why do they have to go to those lengths?”

    A garbage worker’s strike will definitely bring up these questions. Once upon a time, garbage workers were hailed as heroes and celebrated in parades for cleaning up the streets.

  2. Ah um, you may not want to come to Japan … the packaging used here will drive you insane!

    The good news is that the Japanese people are very good in separating their garbage into different recycling bins (much more advanced than Canada).

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