I’ve been encouraged to write this post by Elise, who ensures me that this is within public interest and not just taking the piss out of me.
As many Generation X would agree, we’ve been brought up with grandparents who went through the war and had to make the most of everything. Having a Greek background, I constantly heard “when we arrived with just the shirts on our backs…” growing up and whilst I sympathise with the ways things were, it was an opportunity to also look forward and embrace technology and all the incredible scientific advancements we are lucky to experience. I remember taking my grandma her pills at night and finding her rummaging through her wardrobe to discover hidden pieces of stale bread that she was saving “just in case”. These stories are endless. I was 1 of 4 children in a single parent home in the 80’s when mortgage interest rates were as high as 17%. Needless to say, very little was wasted in our household and if we didn’t take care of our belongings then they weren’t easily replaced – if replaced at all. For example, I remember losing my umbrella at primary school. Instead of buying a new one, I had to go to lost property and basically take someone elses or go without. Apparently the lesson when you’re under 10 was to look after your things and then they don’t need replacing. So when my new TV blew up after 12 months (I was aged 34), my mother claimed that I didn’t “look after the TV”. My argument was that TVs are no longer built to last 20 years, an argument confirmed by LG themselves.
So basically from birth, I ensured that I used everything until it was totally worn out. I consumed it until it was dead. Not just empty or had a good run, but totally and utterly unable to be used anymore. I used to cringe at the ridiculousness of my mother forcing me to use things well beyond their life expectancy. As I aged and got thinking about the meaning of life, I started to think about the meaning of life for consumer goods. In today’s society, everything appears to be disposable – proven by my Generation Y husband’s attitude to most of things we own. Wastage doesn’t seem to concern some people, everything appears to be disposable and no-one seems to care much for the life a consumable good.
Think of countries where no part of a food source is wasted. Take the humble pig – every single bit can be used and IS used. Right down to pigs blood in your good ol’ fashioned Black Pudding. The pig’s entire life is about being eaten – from what he’s fed to where he sleeps to how much room he has to run around, it’s all about his end goal of being a meal. We should respect the pig’s life – all he’s ever wanted is to be a meal, so how dare we just discard any bits with such carelessness. I’m no hippy, stick with me.
I take the same line of thinking with everything I consume. Examples are endless so I’ve listed a few:
- I use the same pen every single day for everything until the ink in that pen runs out. If I misplace that pen in the office, I literally track it down.
- If I spill the dogs’ kibble on the bench, I make sure I put them in their bowls – that tiny piece of grain making up one kibble has sat in the 18kg bag for months waiting to be used, how could I possibly just let it sit there going stale on the bench top
- I eat my ice cubes, after being frozen for weeks, why would the cube want to be discarded into the sink like wasteful water
- I buy face cream in a tub, not a tube
I’m not just talking recycling either, it’s more than that. It’s fundamentally changing the way you consume your goods, be it edible or otherwise.
I call it responsible consumption. My husband calls it OCD, which is expected of his typical Gen Y behaviour – which ends conversations with the words “it’s ok love, I’ll just buy another one”.
“Oh no you’re not, you’re going to tape up your shoe and wear them until the tread is gone. Serves you right for leaving them in front of the bored Labrador overnight”. Then it hit me “gosh you sound like you’re mother”. Did I really say that out loud?