I just saw Garbage: The Revolution Starts at Home (www.garbagerevolution.com), a film that challenges a Toronto-based family of 5 to store their trash in their garage for three months. It looks into the many types of wastes humans generate, including air pollution and their own bodies. It takes the characters to see what happens to their waste--composting with anaerobic digestors, plastic bag mashers, recycling plants. It looks into the contents of detergents with an eye toward water pollution. The ninety day period covers halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas; the last being a huge generator of trash. Buy Nothing Christmas, my favorite way to celebrate that particular holiday, is mentioned. In the investigation into pollution from power generation, the film travels to West Virginia to see a man who lives on land that the coal companies are trying to buy for mountain top removal. The edge of his land overlooks what used to be a mountain. He shows a fissure that's 650 feet deep and 10,000 feet long that was created by the dynamite blasts. Dynamite induced earthquakes. The land is cracking. This man showed the bullet holes in his house and mentioned his dog being shot at. He's being threatened for wanting to stay on his land because some people think that what's under it is more important. He said, Next time you flip on your light switch, think about that. I'm thinking about it. It brings tears to my eyes. We're blowing up Earth, we're polluting it, we're drilling into it, we're draining it of its fluids, we're trashing it, we're turning the oceans to plastic sludge and the rivers to sewage . . . what for? There are better ways to go about meeting our "needs".
What is sustainability? That question was asked of me this weekend. The Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” I think sustainability is the same - meeting the needs of today without compromising future generations' abilities to meet their own needs.
We've got a long way to go.