Back in the 1980s, TV drama sometimes pictured an everyday family chore, throwing the bins. It was usually reserved to the least involved in household management family member, usually the father or a grumpy teenager. It took less than a minute, involving throwing a bag of trash in a bin in the yard (and then something more related to the drama’s plot was happening). But even if it took seconds, it was viewed as a chore.
We spend hours and hours shopping for stuff. From food to appliances to clothing, it takes most of what we call our “leisure time”. And when it comes to disposing of things we no longer need, comes the chore part.
The amount of things we throw in the garbage is obscene. According to some estimates, 99% of everything we buy ends up in the bin within 6 months. The business of selling stuff is practically the foundation of modern economic growth – when people stop buying, the economy stalls. But there’s only so much we can keep – so we continuously need to get rid of what we don’t want anymore.
Reducing the waste we produce is a necessity. Recycling is one strategy, alongside reducing our consumption in the first place, and reusing things we thought we no longer needed. But getting people to recycle effectively is a challenge. Today it is no longer about basketballing one bag in the trash bin. In many cities recycling requires multiple trips to different locations to bring back plastic, glass, metal, batteries, textile, and even keeping at home stinky bins with food scraps. However, urban waste strategies can lead up to over 80% of unwanted stuff diverted from landfills. If that can keep the economy running, and the planet still livable, then it’s a chore we all should adopt.