Lately I've felt a huge pull towards really understanding where things come from and where they go to when we've finished with them. It's caused me to start devouring various documentaries and books on the subject of "stuff".
I've since become more conscious of the products I purchase and what impact my purchasing decisions have. There are three main issues that get me fired up.
1. There is no such thing as away
Did you know that it takes 40 years for a coffee cup to decompose? And 400 years for an oreo packet!! and yet we continue to stick these things in the bin and make someone else deal with it. Can you imagine living in your house and not throwing away any of the waste that you actually produce? It would be pretty epic episode of hoarders buried alive. On top of this, our society is now just a consumerism cog to keep businesses in business. Products are created for 'convenience' (and repeat purchase). Things aren't made to last, but yet they aren't made to break down fast either.
What I am doing...
Firstly for me this sparked an anti-plastic mission, but I wont lie this is freaking hard. So I am taking baby steps to get going is:
- Taking my own bags shopping,
- Buying dry foods from bulk stores using my own jars
- Avoiding anything that is overly packaged.
- Buying things to last
I am going to document my journey on this in more detail so stay tuned.
2. Know where it comes from
Having grown up on a farm where the animals we ate had names it's really hard for me to comprehend the current industrialisation of animal farming (yes it's easy to see why I was a vegetarian, when growing up we essentially ate our pets!). Our animals were looked after, had great lives and we were appreciative of the meat we were eating. The idea of animals locked in small cages to just get fat for us to eat disgusts me, at least give them a good life beforehand. So many people are disconnected from where their meat comes from, and they don't even associate it with the animal as it's wrapped in plastic, injected with dye and placed on a shelf.
We're lucky enough to get good quality grass fed lamb from my families farm, but it is hard to find other meat, especially in the city (if anyone recommends some good farm butchers in the south east Queensland area I'd love to know).
It's not only the meat that I worry about, but the produce. We were victims of the raspberries with Hepatitis A outbreak, yes we bought the poo-berries. Everyone was fine, but it's still a scary thought when you're serving up disease for the family christmas dessert. This incident has made me only buy local, in season, Australian food - I always rouse on my husband when he reaches for the mexican grown asparagus. After reading various books on the farming industry, and seeing my family over decades struggle to make ends meet, I've become very aware of the price between what the farmers are being paid vs what we actually pay at the super market. It's no wonder that farmers are going bankrupt and taking their lives.
Without farmers we don't eat. Simple as that.
Without a fair energy exchange how do we expect farmers to continue providing us with food? The way it's heading is outsourcing, and as a result we'll expect to see more than just poo-berries.
What I am doing...
When it comes to local vs organic, local always wins as it's likely the local producer is using organic practices, but just isn't paying the big fees for organic accreditation. Admittedly in the city it's hard to get local produce, and most 'farmers markets' you go to are just resellers selling the seconds from the markets at supermarket prices so you're still not paying the farmer. We're lucky we have a great organic market and it's our new weekly ritual to head to the organic markets every Sunday at 6.30am. Yes it is more expensive, but we're wasting far less food as we value it more (and it tastes so much better!!).
3. Food like products
I truly believe a lot of our issues in our health, environment and anti-social behaviours would be solved if we just ate real food. It's crazy to think that the fresh produce of the supermarket is on average less than 10% of the store. The rest is manufactured stuff that is engineered to make us want more. Since buying food from markets, local butchers & bulk supplies we don't shop at a super market as much anymore. It's even crazier to think that less than 50 years ago these supermarkets didn't exist! We grew our own food in our own backyards. It has been done, and it can be done again. If people start valuing the things that matter like family and community, over the 'stuff' that doesn't then perhaps there will be a big shift in this area. Right now all people do is complain about how busy, how stressed they are. No time for gardening! One day they'll get there.
What I am doing..
We're avoiding processed foods, the only things we really buy is cheese. We bake our own bread (with a bread maker) and cook any treats we might want. It's incredible how easy it is to make a taco seasoning, when all our lives we've been buying the kits! We love to cook so we go out of our way to make things from scratch on weekends and keep it simple during the week.
Yes, it's hard to not be a hypocrite on these topics, especially when people really take the all or nothing approach. I really believe that just by being aware and taking baby steps is 1 million times better than doing nothing at all.
I'd love to know if you've changed your habits after becoming aware of things bigger than yourself.