Why All the Waste?

Why All the Waste?

Welcome to day three of the 2014 World Parks Congress, a paperless event. Online schedules and phone apps have replaced paper schedules and delegates can rest easy knowing that their discarded paper wont contribute to the 30% – 40% of municipal waste that is paper.

Thirsty you say? Well, hope you remembered your water bottle. Refill stations dot Olympic park, but you wont find a water bottle for sale. Which considering it takes over 1,000 years for a plastic water bottle to degrade is a great thing for landfills and planets alike.

Didn’t finish your lunch or just enjoyed a delicious banana? Throw your rubbish in a bin conveniently labeled compost and replenish the soil with your waste.

Have some garbage that is neither compostable nor recyclable? Landfill bins remind you to be conscious of where your waste actually goes.

Without a doubt, the World Parks Committee has made a thoughtful effort to reduce the environmental impact of the congress on the environment. Yet despite these nods to reduce our waste, I still find myself asking why all the waste?

For a “paperless event,” there sure is a lot of paper in the form of brochures and fliers. For a self-selected group of environmentalist, there is also still a lot of plastic. Water bottles might not be for sale, but they are handed at for free e at most events along with bottled soda sold at food carts. Coffee cops and lids are compostable, but sandwiches are enclosed in plastic containers.

I ask not because I am guilt free. Far from it. And changing our waste patterns is hard . But that is why our landfills are overflowing and why our oceans are filled with plastic.

I ask because the participants in this Congress are the world’s conservation leaders. And leaders must make difficult decisions and advocate for changes that make people uncomfortable.  I ask because if we are the people who understand the intrinsic value of nature and we cannot host a waste free event, how can we truly advocate for conservation measures in our home countries?

We need to be conscious of our impact and conscious of our waste.