Paul Harris [firstname.lastname@example.org] wrote:
>I have just replied to a message about "redefining" the term waste and
>this article (in part) tackles another major problem I see facing
>integrated biosystems - the fixation most of the population seem to have
>with high efficiency, high tech, large scale systems.
>My theory is that every system will fail if pushed hard enough, and the
>more we try for maximum performance/efficiency the more we have to
>"manage"(interfre with) the system as it becomes unstable prior to
>This may all be a bit off topic for the paper and probably spans all the
>current discussions but in my opinion the other challenge is the "use
>and discard" mentality.
>I believe there are very few technical difficulties with "integrated
>biosystems" - the real challenge is to change societies attitudes and
>mindsets so adoption can follow. Successfull demonstrations are one of
>the best ways of doing this, as far as I can see, but we also need to
>work on attitudes.
Aside from Amen, let me add one other comment.
We need more urban-rural linkages with motion toward increasing the proximity
of food production to population centers. A major reason is the integration
of wastes from the city. This is even more true in highly industrialized
societies than in less industrialized areas. The industrial mindset of
input/ouput and waste is a linear model that feeds mainly on fresh natural
resources. Wastes tend to accumulate at two nodes: site of production (e.g.
pollutin form feedlot manure) and sites of intended use. Cities, as
concentrated areas of use, produce substantial waste. In the USA, much of
the waste is perfectly good product, such as food, lumber, paper, etc., which
is discarded for various reasons. In less Westernized context, the waste of
such materials is less. Nevertheless, the concentration of transformed
product, such as human manure and urine, exceeds the local capacity to
absorb and utilize it.
In the USA, it is my experience that it is much easier to garden
organically in the cities, for example. We have no trouble picking up yard
wastes (grass clippings, brush trimmings, etc.) living in cities, and have
used these to tremendously increase the fertility, productivity, and
water-retentiveness of small areas of land near our (usually rented) homes.
In rural settings, uncommitted organic matter is generally less available.
In several rural or semi-rural areas, however, we have managed by
back-hauling waste food. In our present situation, we pick up food from the
local soup kitchen, which generally has donations of some kinds of food
surplus to its needs in feeding the hungry of the city where my wife teaches.
(Supermarkets and restaurants get a tax benefit for donating their surplus
to these institutions. The soup kitchen does not wish to antagonize any
donor by refusing a contribution.)
We feed the unwanted wastes, mostly stale bread and wilted salad vegetables,
to our animals. (Some of it is of good quality and we eat it directly, too.)
We not only economically feed our livestock, which also have access to fresh
leafy feed to balance their diets, but we are importing fertility to our
small center where it is improving the productivity of the soil. When this
wasted food exceeds our needs, I put it out for wildlife, increasing the
biological productivity of the entire district. (We eat some of the wildlife
too, of course.) The levels of birds, particularly small birds, has
increased dramatically here in part due to the ease with which they can feed
themselves. This in turn improves our pest management, etc.
I am fully aware that, thank goodness, this level of waste is not found
everywhere. But it is extemely important, in my view, to absorb such wastes
where they do happen and restore them to the food chain in the USA, at least,
and several other parts of the world, to a lesser degree. In my opinion,
this is best done by family scale enterprises featuring mixed livestock and
cropping systems and dispersed through out and very near by the population
centers that generate the waste. If the high population-density areas take
responsibility in such ways for an increasing proportion of their
consumption, it will take a lot of pressure from the rural areas otherwise
exploited to meet urban demands.
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and annual correspondence
courses via email. Our online course began Oct. 24, late registrations
accepted. Copyright, 2000, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O. Box 52, Sparr FL
32192 USA. Internships. YankeePerm@aol.com
We don't have time to rush.
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