I am slowly educating myself about my personal impact on the environment. It helps when you have a daughter who works in climate science, and who helpfully reminds you each time you forget your recycled bags at the supermarket about how many turtles you’ve just killed.
I admit that, (for my sins), I am still using wipes. Responsibility is a permanent battle between turning your back on the wonders of modern invention for the sake of something that still doesn’t feel quite real – at least for some. And what a bloody fantastic invention cleansing wipes are!
Needless to say, my education about how to respect the environment has been an embarrassing slow burn for my daughter The reef dying and the ice-caps melting doesn’t mean a lot until you are directly affected by it, and if I’m honest, (being somewhat set in my ways), I am only just coming to grips with my phone’s secret updates.
However, when you read articles like The Wasteland by Stephanie Wood in last weekend’s SMH, there’s no ignoring what’s happening.
While NC has done a great job of educating me about recycling, conserving energy, and sustainability, the issue of food wastage hasn’t come up yet – probably because it’s never been an issue in our house. Which is why the work of organisations such as Ozharvest (that Stephanie mentions) – a company that collects the food waste from supermarkets and hospitality to recycle it for the homeless and others in need – was such an eye-opener.
Interestingly, a friend and I had a similar idea (on a much smaller scale) a few months back, when we considered extending the idea of Kurt’s care packages, (ie. the several meals a week I deliver him to help him survive the days between one pay day to the next), to a batch for the homeless each month. Sadly, however, our idea was met by such a horrified response from our friends – who worried about the legal ramifications if we killed someone – we were forced to rethink.
What a very sad world we live in?
So while I may not be able to check which of the homeless are gluten-free, what I can do in my mission to become a middle-aged eco-warrior, is reduce the amount of plastic I use and increase awareness about the damage done by excess packaging. I was pondering over this very thing when I was in Woolworths the other day and I spotted these bags of fruit.
Yes, look again – your eyes do not deceive you. For these are indeed individually packaged bags of sliced apple for kids lunch boxes, helpfully contained in another package.
Now, my husband will verify that I can be a wasteful person and I am also fully aware that more and more parents work full time and don’t have the time to carve flowers out of carrots – hence, I will try not to cast stones – BUT WTF IS GOING ON? Our kids are marching in the streets, telling us how scared they are about climate change, and we can’t even slice an apple now?
Why do we need to package our fruit in plastic trays and then wrap it again in a second layer of plastic? Doesn’t it seem a little crazy that that we march happily around the supermarket feeling all smug about our recyclable canvas bags, when we’re carrying enough plastic inside them to cancel any benefit? In the old days – as in the Medieval times when I was a child – our parents took one bag to the market for their fruit and veg, which was poured directly into it from the scale. It was probably how I learned my basic maths skills. And in countries where diet is based on a farm-to-table principle, people continue to manage to cope with that system.
Aside from the addition of unnecessary landfill, the threat to wildlife and the environment, and the fact that the planet may self-combust in a few years, what does such a blatant lack of responsibility say to our kids about our privilege and our priorities?
I suspect that it’s that the world has gone fucking mad.