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The environmental researcher who is criticial of recycling

News: Apr 28, 2017

The average citizen – at least in the western world - feel that by recycling domestic household waste they are making a positive contribution to solving some of our environmental problems. But Canadian environmental researcher Myra Hird says recycling is part of the problem. 'The golden ticket', she said during her April 27 lecture, 'is to consume less’.  

While at Gothenburg University, Hird told the story of how she became engaged with the issue of waste management. Coming from a somewhat unexpected background in social sciences, with a focus on feminist theory, queer theory, and social justice among many other things, Hird stumbled into research in science and engineering about a decade ago.
– I am trying to make science and engineering socially and politically meaningful, she told the audience, describing how waste is a both colonial legacy and an individual responsibility. Everytime somebody asks her what she does, she explained, she tells them she studies waste. The response is always the same: they try to recycle.

According to Hird, in many countries more people recycle than vote. But the fact is that only 2 percent of global waste is municipal solid waste. The other 98 percent is industrial and military waste.
– Canadian and American military introduced waste into the north of Canada, then abandoned. That, says Hird, is one of the reasons why she is so critical of recycling.
– It deflects our attention to what is REALLY going on… And the industry and military are doing business as ususal.

Hird strongly advocates for the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycling – where reducing and reusing are far better than just recycling.
– Recycling raises consumption. People consume more because they think it’s OK.

Myra Hird’s visit was a collaboration between the Network for Environmental Humanities and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research in Gothenburg.

Read more:
Interview with Myra Hird


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Page Manager: Katarina Wignell|Last update: 2/22/2017

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Utskriftsdatum: 2018-02-23