You and the Trash

You and the Trash


Lisa Doeland, someone who we could call a philosopher of a waste. She was invited to Prague (My home town) by Tomáš Sedláček, Czech economist and philosopher. She’s had seminar and later-on a discussion with Tomáš. I’ve been to both of those and they’ve stimulated some thoughts I would like to share with you here.

I am going to start by my own interpretation of what Lisa was talking about at those seminars.

I am going to write at least about some of the philosophical concepts and thoughts Lisa talked about. Us being at home in an unhomely world. It’s sort of being a stranger to your own home. When we return from a trip or holiday to our home and it feels a bit strange, a bit unhomely.

A whale shark moves towards a piece of plastic in the ocean. Credit: Shutterstock

To live is to waste

What’s happening is, that we, human beings are born into this world and already had produced a ton of waste, without us even knowing about it or having ability to affect it. All the sterile stuff used when you were born that had to be packed in all that plastic? All the diapers you’ve shat all over? This creates a sort of pressure on us. It feels like existentialism, but with added waste into the equation.

The fact that we are by itself means to waste. Therefore, I think we should change our relationship with the waste and trash. Lisa talked about how our relationship with a waste is a little bit twisted, we throw out some trash, flush the toilet and it disappears. It feels like there’s a black hole where all this goes, there’s not. What’s happening with it?

I would call it a big unconscious gamble of humanity. We loan our ability to waste, in return for incredible progress that we’ve made. The progress itself is hopefully going to do at least something with the problem that is mounting behind our backs (It is in the process of doing that!). Reverse some of the damage that has been done.

There’s a certainly some point of no return, but I think that’s normal, that’s life and we shouldn’t dwell on that, it is something that happened, let’s face it and think about our decision making in the future, but don’t get overwhelmed with something that’s already been done. In recent study scientists identified microplastics in 80% of drinking water. In a way, this is also natural, we are part of nature and this is what we’ve done, it’s evolution and in a far future mounting amount of microplastics could just lead to a selective pressure in evolution, only those who have ability to deal with it are going to survive. Does that mean it’s okay? No, that certainly doesn’t, but let’s think about dealing with it with our technological advancements and again, don’t dwell on it, that doesn’t solve anything.

We could say that it could lead to a new form of life in the future, similarly to how Great Oxygen Event allowed evolution to take place how it did, eradicating most of life on earth, in order to let different species to thrive. The big difference here is that it was random, it didn’t have to happen, and we don’t know what’s going to happen either, BUT we are conscious. We know what we are doing, at least some of us.

This very thing sparked these thoughts inside me. I am really interested in how our brain and mind work. This stuff that’s happening daily in our lives, the amounts of trash that we produce, yet are almost unaware of, is for me analogous to our mind. It’s the same outside as well as inside of ourselves.

Relationship with the waste

Waste and trash do not vanish in the external world, as well as internal. This is the very reason why I think that changing our relationship with waste and trash is the very first thing we ought to do. Why is that? Well, if we are going to keep thinking that the stuff disappears, we won’t ever do anything about it. We won’t ever acknowledge it until we are forced to (which is already happening to some type of waste in some places) and that might be a problem.

Changing our relationship with waste as well as our flaws, faults and perhaps some negative feelings is the very thing that allows us to acknowledge those things. The key part here is that we shouldn’t feel bad about it! We shouldn’t feel bad that we are living in this world and produce trash, we shouldn’t feel bad that we are not perfect.

Ecorexia – The Feeling of never being able to do enough, to make our lifestyle environmentally friendly. Click To Tweet

This is something that exists now. It’s certainly not a healthy approach and precisely why there’s a need of changing the relationship. This thing that we do by simply living in this world, shouldn’t make us suffer or impair us.


This is very delicate topic, especially these days. I hope that from the text so far, you get that I am not saying that the trash isn’t a problem or anything like that. What I am saying is that acknowledging it, is going to allow us to deal with it the best way possible in a long run. I believe that there’s a balance and that healthy approach can achieve it.

Only if we are aware of the waste (Everything is analogous to our mind again) we can work with it and maybe waste a little bit less, simply by being aware of what’s happening.

This brings me to my favourite part. Our mind-set. What way would be the most beneficial for us and for our planet to think about this? I’ve sort of painted this already, but again to kind of sum it up.

Not feeling bad about the waste will allow us to be aware of it and accept it. There’s not going to be so many negative feelings around it allowing our brains to drop their unconscious defences which protects our ego from feeling bad – As with many issues we rather close our eyes and act like it doesn’t exist, which I would argue isn’t healthy in a long run.

As a result, there’s going to be much higher chance, that individuals come up with solutions! The more people drop their defences and become aware, the higher the chance. We are going to waste a little bit less, but the big change is in the adoption, this is not an extreme, therefore it can be adopted by masses, which could have a huge impact. The important thing here is that drastic changes in individuals are much less effective than just a tiny little change by masses. This way of thinking about it allows masses to adopt it.


Being positive and hopeful about the future. This will in fact going to change what we are going to come up with and how we are going to deal with it. We now know from studies that positive thinking boosts our productivity, effectivity and creativity. It broadens our spectrum of action. On the other hand, fear, feeling bad and anxious constrain us and limits our minds.

It is hard for us humans, not to try to be part of something extreme a subgroup. It is certainly not so exciting, to say “Yeah, I am aware, I am not trying to waste as much as I did.” but doesn’t that allow that other person to be like “Oh yeah, I could try that too!”

So, let’s be aware.

Thank you so much for reading, hope it stimulated you to think as much as it did me. Thank you to Lisa for wonderful presentation in Prague. Have a great day and feel however you are feeling right now, because everything is okay.

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