St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Some ‘rubbish’ inspiration 1

As you may know, rubbish is close to St Nicks’ heart, and feet – what with the site having been a rubbish tip in the past, and the charity currently running a kerbside recycling scheme which uses pedal-powered tricycles. We often get asked what to do with certain types of waste and often wonder for how much longer we, as humanity, can pretend that waste is normal. As Paul Connett, a speaker and activist on Zero Waste, says in his 1-minute video: “Waste is resource in the wrong place.”

I could now quote all sorts of facts and figures about waste but while they are not too hard to find, they can be hard to process and digest. For example in The Short Circuit report, released by The Gaia Foundation in April 2013, you can read all about the true social and ecological costs, and toxic legacy of gadgets such as smartphones and laptops. Alternatively, you can zoom in by clicking on to Chris Jordan’s artwork called ‘Cell Phones’ which illustrates the problem of mobile phone waste in a very effective way. Whichever way you choose to engage with the issue of waste, it affects us all and we can all do something towards bringing about a Zero Waste society.

One of Chris Jordan's heart-breaking yet beautiful photos of

One of Chris Jordan’s heart-breaking yet beautiful photos of an albatross full of plastic waste on Midway Island. Clicking on the image will take you to a short film about his project aiming to highlight the issue.

Living on a finite planet, waste is a costly business and not just in terms of actually money spent on dealing with it, which often comes out of the society’s pocket rather than its actual manufacturers’. The impact of waste on wildlife, especially of plastics, has been well documented and provides heart-breaking imagery. On St Nicks, our volunteers spend hundreds of hours of their valuable time collecting litter (dangerous for all kinds of animals), which could be better used on actual conservation tasks in the nature reserve.

So what can one do? The first thing to do is to recognise the problem and start rethinking our consumption on a regular basis. How much stuff do we really need to have for a content or happy life? Can we do away with some of it? If not, could it be re-used or given away when not needed anymore? It’s easy to get hooked on recycling and we’re always happy to help with our recycling scheme but not generating waste in the first place is even better.

One fun way of tackling the problem of electronic waste is the Restart Project. This is a group of technically-minded amateur repairers who share their skills, helping others learn how to use electronics longer. St Nicks would love to host a Restart Party so if you know your electronics and would like to share your skills, please get in touch.

One of Vik Muniz's portraits of “catadores”—pickers of recyclable materials from the world's largest landfill site in Rio de Janeiro. Do click the image to see more and find out how this art project has changed lives.

One of Vik Muniz’s portraits of “catadores”—pickers of recyclable materials from the world’s largest landfill site in Rio de Janeiro. Do click the image to see more and find out how this art project has changed lives.

For further inspiration on what to do about waste without being overwhelmed by facts and figures, join us and the Derbyshire ‘Art Tea’ team on Sunday 23rd March in creating a piece of art out of our picnic waste. We may not be able to create anything quite as complex as the ‘Waste Land’ artwork of the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz but it will be good fun and we’ll have other activities taking place on the day to occupy and inspire the whole family.

Once you are fired up, you might even want to get serious and have your say on what happens to waste in York and the county until 2030 – the councils are running a consultation on their joint Minerals and Waste Plan. If you need some pointers to get started on this potentially daunting task, give me a shout.

In a future post we’ll look at some great upcycling ideas and other ways of dealing with unwanted items. If you’d like to share your favourite tip/s, please get in touch.

by Ivana Jakubkova, Events Officer

25 February 2014 | Categories: Inspiration