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Reduce, re-use, recycle

12 May

I can’t be the only person who is thoroughly sick of being exhorted and entreated to reduce, re-use and recycle.  Most of the public relations bumf that comes from various govt agencies and non-profit organisations assumes that we are all starting from a position of being spendthrift wastrels who seek to fill in municipal and territory garbage sites with our rubbish.

All it does is make me want to buy items with five or more layers of packaging and then throw all the packaging into the non-recycling bin.

Fact is, I have been careful with rubbish and recycling for years.  Back when I started, it was called being mean. If you were being polite, it was called being thrifty.  Either way, I would imagine that my parents had been influenced by not having a lot when they were growing up, nor, for that matter, did my brothers and I. Our grandparents grew up during the Depression and developed careful ways of living and consuming that carried over the decades.

Granted, I am not as careful in saving things as Nanna was. I don’t keep every bit of good-quality butcher’s paper for using when sifting flour when I get around to baking. I don’t keep every bit of string, either: that’s DH’s job! (Seriously!)

At the same time, there is a fine line to tread between keeping useful things and living in a rapidly-growing pile of ‘stuff’. Part of my negotiation of that is what I term ‘careful consumer behaviour’. Come to think of it, there’s probably a similar term used in both ‘Green’ and Business textbooks.  Do I need to buy something in bulk, like 5kg of rice, instead of returning to the store several times and buying more, smaller packets that will each have wrapping? What about the 5 layers of plastic and cardboard that surrounded the moisturiser I bought from the pharmacy? How about the vegetables that rot in the bottom of the fridge, signifiers of a week of laziness and stress where good intentions went out the window?

It’s an ongoing thing. I have been making myself plan out menus for a week in advance. Mind you, these can be knocked for six with a two-year-old who proclaims loudly “No! No, Mummy! No want dis! Yucky!” Nothing like a toddler to bring you to earth with a resounding thud.

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