Monday, October 15, 2007

Mindless Consumerism

Well, the day has finally arrived. Blog Action Day!!! And I've remembered. LOL. Okay, it was easy once I'd posted a reminder to myself on my own blog. :-)

I have to admit that I haven’t long been an advocate for environmentalism. Hey, are you impressed with my use of big words there? That's me just trying to distract you from my admission. :-P It’s not that I didn’t really *care* about the environment….. actually maybe it is that I didn’t really *care*. :-(

I like to think that it was more I didn’t really understand the impact my mindless consumerism was having on our environment -rather than I didn't really care. At the end of the day though, the results were the same.

What’s that saying? When you know better, you do better. I hope now that I *know* better, I’m doing better.

Rather than looking at things from a global perspective, I want to blog today about my own journey into understanding more of my impact on the earth. I'm sure someone else can and will cover things from a political and a global perspective.

I think my awareness of our impact on the environment really increased when it started to become *our* problem rather than someone else’s problem. One of the things we really noticed when we moved from the town to the farm was a lack of rubbish collection. Apart from the fact that it would accumulate in my laundry until DH had a chance to remove it (which wasn’t often enough for my liking), it wasn't simply a matter of putting our rubbish out on the kerb and forgetting about it. It remained our problem to deal with from start to finish.

Now I’m the first to admit that back in those days I was a consumer extraordinaire. I wasn’t considerate of the amount of landfill being created. In fact, I LOVED Christmas Day because it meant that all the packaging on the new toys could be removed from my home and annoy me no more. The fact that that packaging had to go *somewhere* didn't even enter my mind.

The biggest impact for me came one day when I went with DH for a drive to our other farm. The farm where he had dug a hole to bury our rubbish. There, staring me in the face was around 12 months of our own rubbish. Believe me, there is NOTHING like coming face to face with your own waste to make you really THINK about the impact you’re making on the earth. One garbage bag doesn't seem like all *that* much but when you add garbage bag upon garbage bag to a pile (or a hole in the ground in our case) plus a few major clean outs - you get quite a LOT of garbage. I began to wonder how long it would take us to run out of room in the scrub.

To multiply that amount of waste by the number of people living in Australia alone was mind boggling. I couldn't even begin to fathom multiplying it by the number of people in the world (not that all cultures are quite as bad as us). Would there be enough acres to house it all? The simple answer is NO. It was at that moment that I realized I couldn’t continue on with my “consumer extraordinaire” lifestyle.

We had a similar experience when it came to water consumption. The farm we are now living on (which isn’t the same one we originally moved to) has no piped water. All of our water has to be caught and stored in rainwater tanks or carted in a truck. When you have a FINITE supply of water it really makes you aware of what you’re using.

The fact of the matter is that we all have a FINITE supply of water. We all have a FINITE amount of land in which to store our waste. But by outsourcing these problems, I wonder if we’ve made them too “out of sight, out of mind” for people. They’re not MY problem – someone else can deal with that.

I wonder if it would make a difference if we were all brought face to face with the effects that our choices make? If it were made *OUR* problem once again (like it would have been in Pioneering days). Do you think maybe we'd all wake up to ourselves and change some of the choices we make? I wonder if it would help us to switch from "mindless consumerism" to "mindful consumerism"?

Well, one thing I do know. I have a long way to go before I can even begin to consider myself “green”. I only hope that as I learn more and know better I can do better.

It's so easy (and I'm as guilty of this as anyone) to stick our heads in the sand and hope the problem will go away. To think that it's too large a problem for "little óle me" to deal with. But just like those small parcels of rubbish can add up to a very LARGE pile of landfill, so can our small babysteps toward "doing better" add up to a big difference when it comes to minimising the damage we're making to our environment.

It's a topic that we could debate for days - the whys, hows and whats. I just want to leave you all with 1 challenge. What tiny baby step are you going to take this week to lessen your impact on the environment? If you have time - put your baby step into my comments section. That way we can all get some "babystep" ideas from one another. :-)

Here's one from me. We had to go to a regional centre for an appointment today and I resisted the urge to "browse" the shops and just stuck to my list. I'm a terrible one for purchasing items that I didn't even know I needed (or wanted) just moments before. And I didn't set 1 foot inside Toyworld even though I know they're having a 25% off sale. Believe me, kids toys are my biggest weakness so that was quite a feat for me! :-)


Lil said...

Awesome post! I have never really thought about my waste and landfills before. Thanks for making me aware! For my babystep, I'll take my lunch to work in a plastic container (that I can wash and reuse). As opposed to gladwrap, which gets chucked straight in the bin. Its only a small thing, but hey, every little bit helps hey!
Luv Lil xox

Anonymous said...

I think it would do everyone a lot of good to 'see' the amount of waste they generate as you have done so - certainly made me stop and think and that is always a good thing - thanks for that post.
Madly Saving

Erin! said...

Hmm well I am going to go and find what i have done with all those "green bags" you know the material ones that you can buy instead of using plastic shopping bags. I know i should have heaps of them as that is the new "in" thing, to give them out as advertising, so i have a number of bunnings, scu, and other company logo "green bags".

See i have heaps of them but have never used them for shopping other than once, because the handles broke on two of them dropping sixteen cans of cat food (i buy in bulk when its on special) on my feet and a 2 litre of milk (which exploded all over my shoes and lower part of my pants.

But that was the very first ones that I was given and I know that some of the newer ones did seem a lot stronger, so will dig them out and start using them for the shopping and will clean out my rectangle bucket and put it in the car to put the tins in, so that i dont have to worry about the bags breaking from the weight of the tins.

That should mean at least 12 plastic shopping bags less that i have to deal with each fortnight.

Kez said...

I totally agree about "out of sight, out of mind". Wouldn't we all be a lot more aware if we had to deal with our own garbage!

Simple Blog Writer said...

Great post. I read a book a few months ago about where our garbage goes. I can't remember the name of the book, but I did learn the term "Coney Island whitefish" which refers to used condoms found as litter outdoors. I haven't found the situation to use the term in conversation...until now.

Kudos on your environmental awakening. I think about the environment a lot, but I fall short in making big or small changes. Gotta work on that.