Infographic: Your Waste Stream


Olivia Cook

your waste stream_2Mr. Christian Jensen (Mathematics) a Calculus and Pre-calculus teacher, is a master of logical, mathematical ideas about the world; but despite this aspect of this him, he shows his more environmentalist thoughts in his classroom.

As a student in his homeroom crumples up a piece of paper, Mr. Jensen explains his ideology:

“The recycling happens before you throw it into the trash. If you decide to recycle something, it isn’t before you take the piece of paper, crumple it up and put it in the trash and say ‘No I’m gonna put it in the recycling bin;’ that’s a last ditch effort. What you really want to do is change your action before you crumple it up. Because if you’re gonna recycle it, the way it’s recycled is not a last ditch effort. You think long before you say ‘Oh, let me just recycle that thing.’

Recycling as an action is supposed to reduce the stress on the planet. So you’ve got to think and take that action before you throw stuff away. So if the only action you take is to just throw less stuff away – that’s not recycling. That’s down-cycling. That’s taking plastic bottles, recycling them and making sweaters out of them and not making new plastic bottles. That’s taking paper pulp and not making new paper but making cardboard. That’s a down-cycle, which is not recycle; it’s not reusing something. Aluminum cans will frequently get made into new aluminum cans; but most other stuff gets down-cycled instead of recycled. So if you’re recycling, you have to change your action before you enter the waste stream.

If all you’re doing is throwing it away, if you’re saying ‘I’m gonna throw it in the blue basket, I’m gonna throw it in the brown basket, I’m gonna throw it in the orange basket,’ then you don’t have the mental image of recycling. It’s not the baskets that you’re throwing the trash into that’s gonna save the planet; it’s the actions that you take deliberately to reduce your waste stream. And that happens before you throw it in the trash.

There’s a statement that says ‘We don’t inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children.’ And that is a deeply ingrained belief that I have. It’s not my earth that I got from mom and dad, it’s the earth that I’m borrowing from my child. I have to make sure I leave her a healthy planet so it can support her in her life. If we leave you toast then all you get is crumbs – but if we leave you bread and flour and yeast then you can make bread. We have a finite planet.”