July 19, 2008

Waste and the broken natural cycles

Waste as we know it does not exist in nature . Matter only changes its form, being useful to one organism in a certain state to being useful to another in another state . Take for instance human urine . Urine is the body discharging wastes in a state that it can no longer assimilate . It is rich in nitrates and salts . Flushed down into the sewer it just stinks , the nitrates getting converted to ammonia but if the urine is directed to the ground it can be a very good source of nitrogen ( the famous N in the NPK fertilisers ) for plants . So every time we flush we are flushing a good clean source of nitrogen down the drain . We even throw a good quantity of potable water along with it ( for most of us in the previliged worlds that we live in there is no distinction between water for drinking and for flushing our wastes ) . For a better idea of what we lose with every flush read this
I for my part have a litre bottle with it's top cut off and most of it goes into the garden , diluted with 10 parts of water . Digressing . .
So like this cycle of 'waste' nature has a way of taking all waste as long as we don't screw it up too much . Create something that doesn't exist naturally there is a very strong chance that nature has no mechanism in place to handle it . And so it comes back at us . Take plastic for instance , there is nothing that nature can do about it other than over a period of time break it into microscopic plastic particles that get into the groundwater , might be carried into the ocean or get back to us in out food . Maybe as I write my gut is getting lined with microscopic plastic particles that originated from plastic bags picked irreverently from the supermarket to bring more plastic home and in all were in use for 10 minutes till you got home .

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