On my first day of graduate school, the professor asked us a question: Can our current environmental crises (define that as you will) be solved by improved technology? or do we need broader societal change?
In a way it is a basic question, but it became the foundation through which I understood most of what we talked about in school, and most of how I’ve understood our trash blog travels. You can read our posts and come out with many understandings of America’s ‘trash problem,’ but I think it is safe to say that the current waste of resources is unsustainable.
I think some of our recent posts have well illustrated both camps. Environmental artist Bryant Holsenbeck and Ann Woodward from the Scrap Exchange believe that our lifestyles are unsustainable and technological solutions only exacerbate the problem. Technological solutions are about effects, not the behaviors that produce them. We need deeper change. We need to stop using, consuming, and assuming so much.
GreenBlue thinks differently. During our conversation with them the idea of ‘reduction’ was never mentioned. Their emphasis was on the new and improved technologies that will get us out of the woods: better sorting methods for our recyclables – lasers, eddy currents, and air jets – and better manufacturing, like bioplastics and compostable packaging. Technology will make us more efficient so we won’t have to change our behaviors.
What needs to change: our behavior or our technology?