One of the advantages of leaving the office late is I get to listen to NPR's Marketplace at 6:30. Yesterday I heard a segment that I thought was quite interesting. Tess Vigeland of Marketplace is taking a challenge to carry her garbage around with her for 2 weeks. Compost and recyclables are exempt. Can you imagine carrying your garbage around with you? Could you put it in a small shopping bag or would you need a wheelbarrow?
The segment discussed the growing waste problem in the USA (although it is not unique to our country). On average, each of us creates 6 lbs of garbage per day. In reflecting on the story I thought the imagery was interesting, if not symbolic. If we really had to carry around our garbage every day, do you think we would make different choices? Would we demand manufacturers reduce their packaging? Would we recycle more? Would we demand that manufacturers use materials that can be recycled? Would we reduce, if not eliminate, the use of non-recyclable plastic toys? All are food for thought.
As a representative of various European toy companies, we are often caught in the middle of the "packaging" issue. Europeans are far ahead of us in terms of reducing packaging. Americans are far ahead of Europeans in terms of "retail" packaging designed to sell products---which often means larger, less environmentally friendly--but appealing--packaging. We are constantly working with our suppliers to develop their packaging to look good in a retail shop, yet still balancing the goal of minimizing the harm to the environment.
On a separate, yet related subject...we recently exhibited at the ABC (All Baby & Childrens) Expo in Las Vegas. This was large wholesale trade show that featured all types of baby & children's products---from diapers, to cribs, to toys and other gadgets. Some products were quite interesting---others, in our opinion, were a sad commentary on our society---such as DVD holders for stollers and treadmills designed for children. But all that is aside from what I wanted to talk about. As I was in the Las Vegas Airport security line, I got to the point where people either finish their bottle of water, or realize "hey, I can't take this full bottle of water through security". So there is a large garbage can of water bottles. I wonder how many pounds per day each airport across America generates in water bottles. Would it be so difficult to have a large recycling bin for those bottles? Perhaps if the person responsible was required to carry those bottles around with him or her they would be quicker to consider the impact of those bottles on the landfills.
I have contacted the airport to express my view on this and to find out the person responsible adding recycling bins and I will post the contact name and email (as well as any responses) for you to contact them if you like. Las Vegas is certainly not the only airport with such a system. They just happen to be the airport I most recently flew out of. Perhaps if you notice other airports with the same policy you will want to contact them too.