Culture is a collection of ideas, embedded in a society, about what is permissible. For example, in most existing human cultures it is permissible to destroy the habitat of a species without a sense of responsibility or loss. In short, culture gives people permission to commit certain acts. If this permission were not granted, implicitly or explicitly, then there would be serious penalties (such as social sanction, fines, and prison) tied to that action or behavior.

Garbage Can

1) A gateway to the trillions of tons of waste that human beings bury and burn every year.

2) An object that gives people permission to think that waste is acceptable; it is permission to destroy in the guise of convenience.

3) One component in a system that causes habitat destruction and pollution.

Human beings are the only species that produces waste and products that cannot be absorbed into ecosystems and used productively within them. What other species produce can be can be, usually in a short time frame, cycled back into the ecosystem and used productively within it.

This familiar object influences the perceptions of human beings by rendering a behavior that is destructive to ecosystems and the biosphere into what seems to be an ordinary and acceptable act with no negative consequences. In short, it makes normal a behavior that is unknown among all other living things.

Dropping an item into a garbage can is one of human being’s many “out of sight, out of mind” practices.

Alternative behaviors available are recycling, less consumption, composting and the use of re-usable packaging.