Waste. Few people like to think about it, much less discuss it. And yet, if we do not implement intelligent, safe procedures for handling waste, we are slowly, unconsciously poisoning ourselves.
For a particularly dramatic example, I quote sections of a Wikipedia article on Port Hope, Ontario:
“Port Hope … is known for having the largest volume of historic low-level radioactive wastes in Canada. These wastes were created by Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited … as a result of the refining process used to extract radium from uranium ore….
“In 1975, St. Mary’s School in Port Hope was evacuated because of high radon levels in the cafeteria. Investigators learned that large volumes of low-level radioactive wastes from uranium refining operations had been used as construction material in the school and all over town. Hundreds of buildings were found to be contaminated.
“Other problems came to light: three waste dumps leaking low-level radioactivity, low-level radioactive wastes dumped in the harbour, and low-level radioactive materials abandoned in open ravines around town. In all, 800,000 tons of contaminated material were identified for removal from Port Hope to be stored elsewhere.
“A federal Task Force spent eight years looking for a site for these wastes. Deep River, the bedroom community of Chalk River Laboratories, was the only candidate site to emerge. However, the federal government’s refusal to guarantee jobs for the nuclear scientists at Chalk River resulted in a rejection of the deal in 1997. By default, the low-level radioactive wastes remain at Port Hope.”
Of course, the way in which we choose to use our time effects the amount of waste we create in the first place. Consider: I can choose to make a jet ski date, buy all of the gear needed for me and my gal, buy the gas and oil for the adventure, and off we go. Or: I can choose to go on a hike with my gal, in an old pair of jeans and sneakers, enjoying without owning the sights and sounds which nature has provided for us.
It is fun playing with all of our new gadgets. But let us think from “cradle to cradle” rather than from “cradle to grave.” That is, when we build something, let us think of all of the side effects of its creation, use, and destruction.
Enjoy the beautiful day!