I just came across the work of Max Liboiron, a PhD candidate at NYU, who wrote an academic paper called "Recycling As a Crisis of Meaning" in which she argues that the word "recycling" and the graphic 'recycle-reuse-reduce' symbol of the concept for recycling have become separated from any real meaning or relationship to an ecologically impactful action that considers waste management as the serious environmental crisis that it is. She argues that by continuing to propogate the "recycle as an individual's environmental consciousness" we are actually helping to undermine any real civic relationship to the real environmental crises around us.
It seems that the whole discussion about Nuclear Energy relates so specifically to this -- at what cost do we use products (energy sources) -- and how do we take responsibility for the WASTE it generates as a whole society. The individual cannot be the answer. It is the collective, the government, the society, the crowd who must change our very relationship to our understanding of labor, consumption and sustainability.
I loved how she uses deconstruction and linguistic theory to critique the whole marketed relationship to "recycling" as environmental activism. I guess my main feeling, after reading the paper is.... what are the alternatives -- and how do we start to mount a campaign to shift into a different mode of understanding about waste management -- and one that calls Industry to account for the 98% of waste they contribute to the waste stream.
On another note, Liboiron footnotes this article -- from 2002 --- good to read about these actions on the small scale of school lunches and food:
Thinking Outside the Box - article by Daniel Imhoff, reprinted from Whole Earth, Winter 2002
"The stuff of our lives — perishable and processed, luxurious and essential, mass-marketed and handcrafted, manufactured and farmed — arrives safely and conveniently, thanks to a complex web of wraps, packs, and pallets..."
read the full article here:
It's not new information, but good to be reminded!