THE PRODUCTS & WASTE CHALLENGES | WITH NÚRIA CASTAN BARON
“The excessive generation of waste is one of the things that I consider a truly issue of global concern, and especially in the mountains; steepness, remoteness, prevailing socio-economic conditions, and vulnerability to natural hazards, makes waste management in mountains more challenging than in lowlands areas”.
Climate change is an environmental phenomenon and has many consequences we can see today. It’s two words to define a lot of problems we are facing today, natural effects but also by the action of man. Unfortunately, the second option is the one that has caused serious environmental problems.
I feel and I see that today’s society is very fast, the power to have at our fingertips everything we want at any time. It is a lifestyle that is generally focused on habits of pure consumerism. And it is evident that production is directly related to the demand for our consumption.
When you buy a product I think you have to see beyond what you now know about it. There is a big story behind it with a series of processes. It begins with the massive extraction of natural resources to obtain raw material, which many of them are not renewable or regenerate very slowly. The next step is production, where harmful chemicals are introduced that facilitate and increase its production. Then the product has to be transported to the marketplace so that the customer can buy it, they would use it and finally dispose of the remaining residue, which in many cases is left in the environment.
The excessive generation of waste is one of the things that I consider a true issue of global concern. Don’t you ever realize the incredible amount of waste we all generate in the world? A few years ago I thought I knew quite well this theme, but I learned so much more thanks to the research I did for my final thesis in my graphic design Bachelor. I did an awareness campaign in a ski resort about the waste left in the environment, especially in high mountains and cold places, I called it “Por todas partes” (Everywhere). I chose this topic because when I was out in the mountain, in any outdoor activity I was doing, I always saw garbage left on the ground and felt very helpless because I did not know about this problem and feel the need to do something about it.
Mountains play an essential role in supplying water, energy, food and other services to millions of people living in the mountains and downstream. Ensuring the continued supply of these services has never been more important. However, many mountain regions are experiencing a growing solid waste problem, from ever expanding urban sprawls and cities, increasing consumption patterns, tourism activities, practices of illegal dumping…
So, in order to carry out the awareness campaign, one of the things I did was a cleanup in the ski resort where the campaign was going to be applied, and thus be able to analyze the real waste that was there, investigate the reason why they were abandoned and the consequences that this action could cause in nature. Then I also shot some of the found waste and I design banners, posters and all the graphics to show it on the different platforms available in a ski resort.
Most waste were not biodegradable and it was practically all different kind of plastics; bottles, energy bars, wrappers, tobacco packs… but I also found cigarette filters, glasses and fruit peels.
It really shocked me to see that amount of garbage, but it shocked me even more when I analyzed the time it took for the degradation of these. We all know that organic, biodegradable waste decomposes within a few weeks, however, when it comes to the mountains, cold temperatures, the degradation is different and it slows down. Maybe a simple banana peel that would take a couple of weeks to degrade in nature, ends up being a year when it is in contact with snow and ice. This is a problem as real as it is serious.
There are several reasons why we can find garbage in nature, one of them could be that the wind carried it to that place, but the main one is that humans have left it there, they have thrown it away. We know that today we have to recycle, reuse, reduce… but it is very easy to throw that little piece of cigarette on the ground and completely forget about its existence, right?
Climate change is an environmental phenomenon and has many consequences we can see today. It’s two words to define a lot of problems we are facing today, natural effects but also by the action of man. Unfortunately, the second option is the one that has caused serious environmental problems.With the research I also learned that in addition to not being able to recover this waste, it pollutes the environment. Creates risks for ecosystems and human health, and it can also enlarge the footprint of mountain waste to a thousand kilometers or more downstream, even right into the ocean.
After reading this, I am not trying to change your way to think or to do the things, this is about letting you know this big waste issue and promote education and awareness within the mountaineering community. Just have in mind that the mountain is where, but that is why we have to take care of it too! So if you take something to drink or to eat outside, just be aware to keep it with you afterwards.
If you start to think a little bit more what you need to buy and the way to consume reduces, it can already be a change. We have to ask ourselves if we can do something to improve our lifestyle and the future generations. I am sure there is always something to do! We are all part of this, so let’s change it!