Guest Editorial: Back to the Future

Msw Bug Web

The following conversation could have already occurred, as far as I know, or may happen some day:

“Honest, I do what I am told to do. I put all my food waste and yard trimmings into one cart, my recyclables in another cart, and the garbage into a third cart. I buy things with recycled content. I sew buttons on my shirts. I darn holes in my socks. I donate what’s still usable to thrift stores. I buy organic food. I ride my bicycle when I can. I drive a hybrid vehicle. What am I doing wrong?”

“Just about everything, sir,” said the Green Policeman from the future. “That’s why we’re here. It’s cheaper to make changes now than clean up the mess you have caused in the future. You would have ended up wasting most of the natural resources on the planet before our time, so we’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen. What’s that in your hand, sir?”

“It’s a cup of coffee.”

“Did you know your generation’s cup of coffee has less than a quarter of one percent of coffee bean content in it? Don’t get me started on that wax-lined paper cup and plastic stir stick you just threw away in the garbage. And what’s in your other hand?”

“Why, it’s just my newspaper and a fast food bag with my breakfast sandwich and potato patty. I was in a rush this morning, and…”

“Save it for the Environmental Court Hearing Officer. Newspapers have been banned. All news is distributed electronically, and those fast food bag packaging violations will require you do some hard time.”

“Hard time?!”

“That’s right. At least 200 hours of community service, and do you have grass on your roof, sir? Solar panels? Wind turbine? Not there? Just as I thought,” sneered the Green Cop from the future. “You’re going to have to get rid of those garbage and recycling carts in front of your house. You can’t do that anymore. Zero Waste Laws, you know. You only buy what you need. It’s a crime to throw anything away.”

“What if something breaks?”

“Things breaking or wearing out is almost never heard of in the future since the No Break Durability laws were passed, all product manufacturers are required to repair forever anything of theirs that breaks.”

“What if something gets lost?”

“Not possible. All products have chips in them that identify the item, the manufacturer, the purchaser, and have global positioning locators built in.”

“Too bad humans don’t have that.”

“Sir, that’s one of the first things we suggest you do here.”

“Let me get this straight: nothing breaks; nothing gets lost; no solid waste; everything is green building and green business. Sounds like some sort of nirvana to me. Why are you here again?”

“We were barely able to save the small amount of natural resources you left us. You can’t just keep throwing things away. You must achieve at least a net zero solid, liquid, and gaseous emissions state.”

“Looks like there’s no future in the garbage and waste collection and disposal business. Just how far in the future are you?”

“Sir, as they say, Zero Waste is a goal and shouldn’t be measured in time.”

“That far, huh? I guess there’s at least something I can do. Every little bit helps, right?

“We need a lot more than you’re doing now, Wasteboy.”

“So if I go to your future beyond the point of achieving Zero Waste, the only physical evidence of you in the past will be you in the present telling me about the past. No waste, no historical evidence. Is that why I can’t find Atlantis in my time? Because the Atlanteans achieved Zero Waste and Zero Emissions so their civilization left no evidence or impact of being here except tales told by word of mouth?”

“Now you’re thinking like the future, son.”  Msw Bug Web

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