Not living in the city has opened my eyes up to how advertising and marketing bombards us with “bigger, better, faster, more, younger, improved, will make you happy” things. I have also come to realise that we actually don’t need a tenth of what we are led to believe we need. And I also know that not having any of the things we are being sold definitely doesn’t make our lives worse, as a matter of fact, I would go as far as to say that it actually makes our lives better.
There is one obvious reason it makes our lives better. For starters, we spend less money, money that we often owe the bank and that is not truly ours. Money that costs us a lot of money. But then there are also much bigger reasons than just your bank balance to be aware of.
There are many posts on Facebook nowadays about our bees going extinct, how our foods are no longer safe due to GMOs, about how birds are filled with plastic, our seas are filled with waste, rivers are filled with oil, I can go on and on. There is one big driving factor that will forever make sure that all of the above problems continue and keep getting worse. It is the human population’s insatiable hunger for consumerism.
If you are in any way worried about our plastic and animal extinction problem, and if you feel your heart bleed when you click on the share button of yet another post that tells us how we are destroying the world, I challenge you to do something more, something that can actually make a difference.
Let’s start with GMOs. If you believe, as I do, that GMOs are contributing to cancer and a various list of diseases – stop buying foods that are questionable. Even further, if you have recently shared a post on the extinction of our bees, STOP BUYING GMO FOOD. Unfortunately, most of our big chain stores, including our high quality W store, sell GMO food. Your solution – find the weekly local markets or the small fruit and vegetable shops that sell straight from the farm. There is another bonus in doing this, you’ll start supporting local. And if there is one way we are going to curb the food shortage problem, supporting local farmers/growers is the way to go. I know not everyone are keen vegetable growers, but the ultimate solution is to grow it yourself. I am more than happy to help people grow home grown food and to redesign their gardens in such a way that they not only grow enough for themselves, but for their neighbourhood. And even more, growing food doesn’t have to be a “spend your life in the garden every weekend” intensive exercise – good planning and good design and you can bring a lot of maintenance down. Did you know that if we utilise 4 – 6% of the space in urban environments to grow food, we will solve the food shortage problem world wide?
Next up – waste, whether it be plastic, polisterene, cans, glass – anything you throw in a dustbin that magically disappears once a week. Here is the thing, even if you recycle, once a block of plastic has been made, it will exist forever. And for as long as you keep on buying things in plastic, they will keep on making more. This goes for anything you buy in packaging. Ask yourself, is this something that can be returned to the soil and it will become soil, or is this something that will cause harm to the environment. There are many sites out there today teaching people about living waste free. Both the ladies of these two sites – http://www.zerowastehome.com/ and http://www.trashisfortossers.com/ throw out one mason jar of waste a year, negligible if you compare it to the rest. I can write a whole blog about saving waste, so I’ll save that for later, but I can tell you one thing – reducing your waste does take a bit of planning, but in the long run it is actually cheaper. As one example – I have replaced my triple-blade-smooth-as-a-babies-bottom-razor-with-blades-that-aren’t-recyclable with a safety razor instead. I push my blades quite a bit, but on average a blade should last you a month, unless you are the wolf man. A new blox of blades has 6 blades in it and costs a total of R9. I even checked, a year later, it still costs R9.
Lastly, let’s talk shopping. Next time you buy another piece of clothing, ask yourself this – do you really need it, or do you actually have enough already. That next pair of shoes – is your current black pair still doing it’s job? Your car is 5 years old or it’s warranty has expired? Is it really necessary to get the next newest latest model? Is it really worth staying in debt (and probably more debt) anyway? Here is what I want you to really think about when you buy the next piece of whatever. What went into making it. Let’s look at a car (I’ll choose the biggest object because it has the biggest impact). What does it take to make that car? It takes digging up metals and oil. It takes building factories that pollute our air to build these cars. It takes building trucks that drive these cars around the country to have them delivered. It creates an enormous carbon foot print and they probably chopped down a couple of hundred trees and destroyed wild life habitat to build/transport these cars at some point too. Now I’m not saying you should not own a car (although some days I wish I could disown myself of a car). Let’s hypothetically speaking say there were only 100 of us in the world. At most we need 100 cars, but if we really want to become energy efficient I would say we all car pool and bring it down to between 25 and 40 cars. That car will keep on working perfectly fine for the next 10, maybe even 20 years. If all 100 of us bought a new car every 5 years, within 50 years there are 1000 cars, of which 900 need to be converted to scrap metal. Now let’s imagine the world 100 of us lived on was only 10 hectares. How long do you think it will take to fill our world with scrap metal (not counting all the other waste we need to find space for).
The fact of the matter is this – for as long as you buy more when you don’t really need more, they will make and advertise and market more. And for long as they make, advertise and market more, there will be more waste, more pollution of our seas, more animals dying out, more animals suffocating and going through cruel unnecessary deaths.
You can make a difference today, by doing some research to understand what it takes to make that new garment, car, gadget, cell phone that you want to buy, and what happens to the old ones. You’ll be amazed at how much waste we generate as a nation, and it is easy to ignore if you don’t see it, but our population is increasing at a tremendous speed, and if we keep going as we do, we may all have to live on little trash heaps pretty soon.
I would much rather shop less and plant more – practically everything we need comes from mother Earth and goes back to mother Earth to be decomposed into life giving soil. And my experience, once you start looking after your own little piece of Earth, it’s much more fun watching seedlings and veggies pop up than going to the shops anyway!