Our Ancestors understood Nature to be a Supreme Being. Possessing capacities of utmost complexity beyond the rudimentary imaginations of any ordinary human being. Nature does not make mistakes.
In Nature, nothing is useless. Everything has a purpose, though generally that purpose is unknown to man who is only capable of accessing twelve percent of his fallible brain. Therefore man, when governed by nothing except his self-interests, constructs concepts that are in contradistinction to men who have lived before and even some who live now. This is precisely how the modern formation of waste has come to occupy the consciousness of everyday life.
Waste is a recent western invention. It is an artificial, social construction. This philosophy of waste was developed in direct opposition to our Ancestors’ way of life that shows respect for the environment and the natural world. In many parts of the west, waste is meant to denote the action of using or expending carelessly, extravagantly, or without purpose. Materials that are labeled wastes are considered unwanted or unusable. Grounds that are called wastes are barren, uninhabited, uncultivated, or unused. Capitalists say that waste is a by-product that can be eliminated or discarded once a process is complete.
Under the laws of Nature, all of these definitions are nonsensical. None of them hold any weight under a microscope. The Ancestors would cringe at a definition that aims to split the natural world into useful and useless things—they know only the existence of the former.
More, these definitions are peppered with ideology. The books, dictionaries no less, are written by man and laden in them are man’s agenda, one that is usually anti-altruism toward Nature and mankind. When man calls grounds wasteful if they are uninhabited by him, uncultivated by him, or unused by him, he thrusts himself to the center of every equation. His ideology claims to give life to the land; ironically he ordains himself as master and maker over that which preceded him. (Much like his books that controversially argue that some form of man decreed the presence of light, the sun, the waters, and the earth—essentially, Nature—to join him on the planet.)
With his ideology, man declares he gives all life and purpose. However, man as usual overstates his importance.
Regardless of man’s presence or absence, there is nothing without purpose in Nature. There is nothing unwanted or unusable.
If you look in Nature, nowhere will you find waste or destruction, or lack of purpose. The Supreme Being Nature has designed the world such that everything is usable, such that no natural processes that produce waste, such that the very notion of waste is irrational.
Waste cannot exist when every thing boomerangs back into the cycle of life. Limes, after the juice is squeezed, can be rubbed under armpits as a fragrant deodorant. The peels can be used as a repellant for insects. Dried sheaths of sugar cane can be used as firewood.
Likewise, our human and animal bodily “wastes” are not products lacking use and needing to be discarded. Urine and feces occupy a place in the cycle of life. Due to its acidity fresh urine is a topical anesthetic for some infections, such as with acute haemorrhagic conjunctivitis, while feces act the role of the world’s natural fertilizers. Human bodies, rest their souls in peace, disintegrate into the ground and enrich the soil, as do trees or animals that are fallen.
Nature is the first, and perhaps only, genuine self-cleaning machine. The ecosystem of the earth is unprecedented in its mastery of balance, which is what our Ancestors aimed to achieve in socio-economic and political life through the practice of Ma’at.
Accordingly, the earth has a way of taming anything unnatural that enters its atmosphere. So long as one leaves a river alone, for instance, it will eventually filter out man-made wastes that pollute it, through rocks forming a natural sieve that allows for safe drinking and cleansing with well waters. The scales of balance are also why we can fuel our bodies with junk and still function (though admittedly not at full capacity).
The way the concept of waste is thrown about nowadays is demeaning to Nature, the Supreme Being. Now people take waste to be a given, as if waste has always existed and will never leave the planet. However this taken-for-granted assumption leaves invisible the intentions and ideologies of man underlying his creation of the concept of waste.
Situating waste in a seemingly benign and normal place in the order of life, man permits himself to be the architect of environmental destruction. He conditions others to become familiar with wastes and “taking out the trash” to normalize his extravagant and careless uses of the earth’s resources, as if there are some which should be preserved and others which should be discarded. Man creates a false dichotomy between that which is useless and that which is useful, contrary to Nature’s law wherein uselessness is stranger than fiction.
The real conflict with Nature is modern man’s non-biodegradable concoctions. He has created modern waste materials: plastics, harmful chemicals, hazardous and nuclear wastes. With these toxins, man has poisoned real rivers and suffocated real tilapia and exposed real human beings to injurious radiation.
Though some are beginning to fault the ways of the wasteful and realize the true nonexistence of waste. They are using would-be-discarded food items as compost–putting them back into the earth where they belong and not piling them into landfills.
The rest should not be cajoled by the sly fox. When he wishes to eat a vulture, he calls it a guinea fowl. Whatever it is he wants to do, he changes it so that it can be done. So it goes with the conniving man who goes around and tells the world the story of wastes, landfills, and trash collectors. He invents wastes so that he can generate them and impress upon the earth his pollution footprint.
To err is human. Nature, on the other hand, does not have the same relationship with blunders. Its utility is unparalleled, down to its minutest component. The invention of waste only suits its makers and would be scoffed at by our African Ancestors.