Much like our discussions of Burning Behavior our discussions of Trash Behavior are rooted in the past. In fact the reader could view Trash Behavior as a subset of Burning Behavior because the Fire unless perfect “throws away” effluent in the form of carbon and other particulates. This is an extreme view I do not share. I believe that Trash Behavior has its origins in the biological process of defecation.
What to do with feces would have been easy for early humans. Maybe they were nomadic for more reasons than following the seasons or following their food sources. Maybe they moved on to get away from their own biological waste that while fresh could create disease and pestilence but once degraded was harmless. This idea of “leaving things behind” or throwing things away may have been useful or at least harmless when there was an estimated 50,000 humans on the planet. A mere 13,000 humans in Europe alone. This habit quickly became ingrained in humans and it has spread to all of its endeavors. Much like striking a match however the act of tossing something from ones person can be easily stopped. Simply leaving something in place like not burning things up requires NO ACTION at all.
As our numbers multiplied and we abandoned our nomadic waste the behavior of using only part of what we create and throwing some things away only partially used escalating into an industry. With the creation of cities we needed someone to haul out garbage away to a centralized location and we could no longer “piss in the river” with total disregard. Still it was common in much of the developed world to throw your “slop” in the street well into the 1900’s. In the undeveloped world it still is. This attitude would not threaten the world until industry employed it to make profits in the late 1700s.
While it is true that small producer culture produced less waste it was brazen in its discharge. Hide Tanners dumped acid in rivers. Iron smelters dumped their waste behind their shops. Glass blowers and melters tossed poisonous smoke into the air. Still there were so few humans and the earth was so vast that it could handle it with very little effect. With the industrial revolution beginning with the steam engine everything changed. In a sense the concept of “disposable” was created. Things were created that would not last a lifetime or two. The idea of “passing things” down slowly but surely was eroded. This is not to pine for a long ago age when humans recycled everything they used. This is to pine for a here and now where everything and everyone is deemed valuable. That we stop throwing ourselves away. This must be said over and over. There are to many people on this planet right now. 7 BILLION people is too many. This is ultimately what humans must grapple with is Who can reproduce and how much. Until we solve that problem we are just parasites on this planets backside.
Let me be clear. Our species is in danger. We have overseen one of the largest extinction events in the history of the planet. Let us hope our own extinction is not on the horizon.
To let that be so we must change our behavior and soon. I will try to explore the different aspect of Throwing Away Behavior (TAB) in upcoming posts.