Meta Food And Water Waste Systems

less than 5 minutes

Meta Food And Water Waste Systems

A lot of things have been coming together these past few weeks- a new build prototype for our plywood WAVE model, prototyping some of our other nifty products, and quite a few other things in terms of connecting with ideas. One of the more exciting things is that BAM has submitted WAVE at the Idea level for the OpenIDEO Challenge on changing our relationship with food: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/wave-is-a-patented-cart-and-pantry-system-for-modern-urban-living-designed-by-bam . WAVE! Get your food off petrol and take a walk!

The OpenIDEO Challenge has me thinking about meta food and water waste systems.

As I see it, there are really two divisions when you’re talking about waste management- urban and rural. In an urban area we’ve got municipal landfill or water (both sewer and storm drainage) as the places where waste goes. If we’re looking at water, then we’re talking about filtering out solids and burning them. If you’re evaluating landfill, we’re talking about separating out household plastics, glass, and metal from the trash, recycling them, and burning just about everything else. With the exception of industrial waste and tires that covers probably 98% of municipally collected trash. And when you burn something it generates energy. This energy is directed back into the system to create municipal electrical power. Hint: great political opportunity.

So what we really need in urban areas are municipal mechanisms. Since so many people are living in cities we could be capturing close to 70% of waste at the municipal level via either land or water. If it’s water we could help out the system by whatever recommendations the Water and Sewer Department gives, which might simply be a garbage disposal at every sink, or it might be large builds, such as, land-oriented aeration ponds that filter water from black to gray to clear in series.

If we’re talking about municipal landfill situations then we better get really serious about how we separate out our trash as it’s brought to the curb and we have got to find out a way to separate out things before they make it to dumpsters. So those recommendations, and that focus has to come from waste management- what they need to get things done at the address level before it is aggregated. But it needs to be enforced politically. Economically the landfill and Water systems could pay for themselves- more about that in a few paragraphs.

Looking at rural waste systems, we’re talking about something that historically was always able to maintain itself. Before I get too far along: I know- I’m idealizing a bit, and I also know that things were much more sustainable prior to the addition of petroleum in Farm Management. There technically should be zero waste on a farm that is managed using sustainable principles. It’s already been done for centuries, and actually is currently accomplished- but participation is not at a highly desirable sustainable scale. People just need to start implementing sustainability across the board, in every commodity. The immediate rural difference will be realized in an increase of new skilled jobs. Bring back the family farm and reduce the industrial farm. We need plant, livestock, soil and water specialists with a sustainable end game- not a corporate profit margin. If we just made the shift rurally from pushing the system to near collapse hell-bent on profits, to understanding where the natural system needs a little nudge from humans towards inceased sustainability we could again, change the world. We need to look at sustainable farming as an economic category that needs some government and educational intervention to really take off. But I can imagine if we apply sustainable thinking to the idea of jobs expansion we could have something going really quickly and we could have it practically perfected in three years. Everyone knows these things- but we’re not gettting the Big Picture Vision politically. [Not that I trust entirely the Washington DC politics- the Yellowstone Bison population alone tells me all I need to know of how well national political schemes mete out.]

At every level we’re talking about trust. Trusting people to separate out the recyclables in the cities, trusting people to do their jobs all along the waste management stream. In both the urban and rural areas what we need are jobs, economic support for small businesses, and education. Since this will be a multi-generational cultural change toward sustainability, we need to start early in the schools to teach our students how to manage food, water, and waste.

In the rural areas people could be encouraged through education- starting to share information improves the situation of the entire system. High School kids could be cooking fantastic recipes from foods that would otherwise be wasted by the local supermarkets. A community education forum could be developed during culinary and home economics classes. Students would connect with where jobs are created, giving them ideas about where they might develop entrepreneurial idea of their own. Farm to Table alone would be a perfect example of an immediately achievable economic revision. where people are supported economically and educationally, sustainable farming will be considered the norm. Politically and practically these unsustainable huge feedlots and huge factory farms need to be broken up so that they are human-centered and are no longer exploiting the workers or polluting the environment.

In the both the rural and urban areas the WAVE cart is a fantastic tool: It makes people aware of their environment, connects people with the community, reduces the necessity of disconnecting yourself by jumping in the car and further using petroleum, uses the best renewable resource ever- you! WAVE gets you to move- if you’re carrying your food home you’re going to start paying attention to what you’re buying and you’re going to start paying attention to what you use, and what you need, and how you’re going to get there. If you use your WAVE cart you’re connecting, and you’re doing something that is a win all around.

Yesterday I was visiting my 90-year-old cousin Louis and showing him the cart and he just about flipped he was so excited! He wanted to know exactly when he could get one because he likes walking but he’s not going to carry groceries back from the store- look, he’s 90! So none of us have an excuse… literally none of us have an excuse to not be excited about a tool that can get us there and back.

I see there are many solutions based on sharing leftovers in the OpenIDEO Challenge. I understand the compassion and the capacity to share food with people who have none but I think that it’s not a sustainable situation. A sustainable situation is when people can afford their own food choices. Whether it’s, literally just giving people tokens so that they can buy food, or giving them jobs at community run restaurants were food can be chosen, and assisting them through finding their own choice of employment- all of these things are better than creating a permanent under current of people who never get their own money where they can start making their own choices. Sharing Humanity is when people can make their own choices because they have human autonomy. So it’s sweet to give people things and to share, absolutely, but it can’t be a person’s only hope. Our connection to our community needs to be philosophically, sustainably, based on awareness of choice.

When we’re talking about farm to table just imagine the Amish community. They get together about once a week, and when they have community project that they’re doing, and they have a community meal. They’re not talking about waste or leftovers as they are applying the principles of sharing. As many problems as that community might otherwise have- for instance, not using electricity, (If you are Amish and you’re reading this on the internet you know what I’m talking about.) that’s a model that we are actually looking for- community trust. We’re looking for a sustainable situation that everyone shares. We’re looking for that low waste sustainable possibility. If we just experimented and did community meals once a month it might not be enough- I think we need do it every week at a minimum. That would be a goal of a small farms, and neighborhood community centers. (This is where local need and flexability is concerned. Again, I don’t intend to paint in such broad strokes- but I also don’t want to write a book!) Sustainablity like this certainly can’t happen on a factory farm- I’d like to be proven wrong and see it happen actually!

In fact, in terms of factory farming, those industial sites need to be broken up or they need to be heavily taxed. Instead in our political scheme, the factory farms get a bunch of big money supplements. What we really need to do is give supplements to the waste management people, and the water management people, and the small farms because they’re actually saving our environment. They are creating sustainabilty, they’re not destroying things with so much pollution that the earth can literally not handle it. All that intense greed and stress that gets passed down through the food system has just not been healthy. Don’t even get me started talking about the H1N1 swine flu- that’s stuff’s a problem. And it will continue to be a problem until we take back our choices, and decide where to stick our forks. And yes, dear subtle reader I do intend to mirror back that we are all beggars for gleanings and food- but that we can only become sustainable by awareness of our choices.

WAVE! Get your food off petrol and take a walk!

Evelyn

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