The Illusion of sustainability

This is your house, and you have a non-renewable lifetime contract on it

Try to leave it in the same condition as you received it!

What would it be like if we could not throw the garbage we produce outside of our homes?

Imagine that you have a house and that at most you can put your garbage it in a separate storage room far away in the backyard, but not outside of your house.

At the beginning, it will look like you're doing fine: you can throw a number of things and maybe compress them a little bit so you have some more room. But think of all those plastics, milk cartons, glass, paper and cardboard boxes that you throw away every other day.

Do you realize that your storage room will be filled up very soon? In the end, if you don't find a way to recycle that garbage you will have no more room, even if you have a huge house.

OK, let's imagine that instead of having a house, you own a huge farm. There should be plenty of room for you to dispose the garbage that you throw away during your whole life, and you can die happily never having a problem with that restriction of not being able to throw the garbage somewhere else.
But now think of you kids and your descendents. They will only have this farm to live in. Eventually the same that happened with the house will happen in the farm after just a few generations, it will get filled with garbage!.

Well, here come the bad news: our planet is our house, and we are producing tons of garbage, and we can't throw it away into some other planet. Well, maybe if we use rockets and throw it away in the vast space we will get rid of the garbage, but then the earth would become emptier and emptier and there would be less of it, not even garbage!.

At the current rate of consumption and waste disposal we will finish with no oil (we are getting there), no forests to make more chairs (we are getting there), no more clean water , and we are getting there too :(. Our planet is our house, and so far, we are only throwing out our garbage in some convenient place where we don't see it right now, but most of it is still there! 

Is it right that we produce so much garbage and do not recycle it? Is it right to leave all that garbage for our kids and descendants to manage? Is it right to use disposable containers with 250ml of water just because we can throw them somewhere and forget about them?

I mean, it's great that we live much better and have many commodities that were not available some hundred years ago. But we don't have anything to complain about our ancestors leaving us a mountain of garbage from the middle ages or so. They didn't make as much as we're doing now, but maybe in a few hunderd years our descendants will say: "hey, those guys in the 20th and 21st. century were producing all those mountains of garbage destroying all the forests to make that furniture which they used only for a few years and then threw to the garbage". 

Many people agree that living very tightly in condensed urban areas is more ecological. While it is true that there will be less pollutants thrown away due to less transportation needs, I believe that the smaller our living space is, the stronger the feeling that our ecological footprint is small. Our ecological footprint is dictated by our rate of consumption and waste production, and by the total amount of consumers of the earth, so if we are wasting a lot and throwing a lot of garbage, we are still consuming a lot of farmland, bringing down trees from faraway forests, consuming oil derivated products and so on, even if we are living in a small place.

So maybe we should start talking about overpopulation and doing something, maybe we should be saying 'no' to all that consumption and garbage production? What we are doing now is not going to work and can only be sustained for a couple more generations, unless we find a new technology that helps us change the situation or we reduce our consumption patterns...