Sunday, May 29, 2011

We've Got Waste

One of my picture/poster ideas generated for the
Sustainable Campus Collective, UWS Hawkesbury

Waste is probably not something that is high on everyone's agenda. However, what happens to food waste or any biodegradable waste for that matter, is incredibly important.

Tiny little microorganisms that live in healthy soil are imperative in the decomposition process of organic matter and nutrient cycling. To put it simply, without these organisms soil virtually becomes a dead substance.

Every time crops are harvested, nutrients are removed from the soil. Without returning organic matter back to the soil, nutrient levels become depleted. When inorganic synthetic fertilisers are used, soil slowly becomes more acidic and more saline which is not conducive for flourishing microbes. When certain herbicides (such as those containing glyphosate) are used, soil life is wiped out altogether and the vicious cycle of synthetic fertiliser dependency ensues...

In order to create a sustainable 'closed loop' system, all we need to do is return biodegradable waste to the earth instead of burying it under tonnes of shit in landfill where it decomposes anaerobically, creating methane (which is over 20 times more toxic than CO2) and leachate (to join our lovely, pristine waterways). Whoever invented the flushing toilet will no doubt be remembered as the biggest dick in history.

Not only does returning organic matter to soil improve conditions for all-important nutrient cycling microorganisms, but it also reduces the need for chemical fertilisers and even some herbicides. In addition, increasing the organic matter content of soil improves its structure and water-holding capacity which means that less water is needed to maintain growth and plants fare much better in our quintessentially hot, dry Australian summers.

Our current systems seem so.. illogical.

Yes, change will require some effort but why ignore science and stick with methods that we are well aware are not only damaging but also impossible to continue indefinitely? Sustainable practices that incorporate a holistic view of environmental preservation and longevity should be the norm and not the exception as they are today.

I joined a student group called 'Sustainable Campus Collective' at the start of this semester and it's so damn frustrating. We can see what changes need to be made but the bureaucratic bullshit we have to deal with to get things done seems ridiculous and at times thoroughly disheartening. I sure wish things were less complex sometimes.


  1. Nice poster – I love the way you've made garbage look sexy! You're right, managing waste is something we don't do well. I hope your campus collective can help get some changes made. Don't let the bureaucracy stop you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails