We must stop shifting the burden!

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I read or heard somewhere once that when we do something that has been made easy, it means the burden has most likely been shifted elsewhere. Don’t quote me on that as I can’t find the original statement, but it doesn’t matter. I am sure you get the idea of what it means.

Lately I have been finding myself interested obsessed with our current behaviours in terms of consumerism, waste and the environmental disaster we are continuously creating and recreating. I used to be very mindful of this and for many decades lived according to my values, but for various reasons I stopped doing many of the things I did for years. It’s only been in recent times that I have had the time, energy and resources to commit myself to making sustainable changes in my life and habits again.

Do you remember the movie Turner and Hooch with Tom Hanks? It came out in 1990 in Australia and I vividly recall being gobsmacked when Tom Hanks was cleaning up the mess left by the dog using paper towels, and rolls of them. I could not for the life of me understand why he was using them, to say I was horrified would be an understatement.

Fast forward to recent years and I am ashamed to say that I have been the queen of paper towels. I used to use them for everything. Without even realising it I too had began engaging in the very behaviour that I could not have ever imagined myself doing. Why? Because it’s easy, clean and efficient – for me. Not for the planet or our environment, but boy are they handy. I was shifting the burden.

paper towels

This is just America – imagine the rest of the world!

As I have been analysing my own actions at home, I can’t help but see what is happening around me and to be honest I am struggling not to be overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of what needs to be done to save our planet, if we can even save it.

Did you know that every single piece of plastic ever made is still in existence? That barbie doll I threw out in the 70s is still somewhere on our earth. The billions of water bottles used every year are largely still out there, polluting our environment. There are traces of plastic in every single living thing in on earth and in the ocean and marine birds, I’m sure you’ve seen the graphic pictures of animals cut open after their death, literally filled with plastic mistaken for food.

We think it goes somewhere else when we throw it out, recycle it or do whatever we think is the right thing with it.

News flash. There is no ‘somewhere else.’

Wet wipes – for adults and babies. We have become so lazy that we can’t use a flannel or reusable cloth to wipe our babies bums. These do not biodegrade and sit in huge lumps creating a new problem called Fatbergs. Don’t get me started on disposable nappies. Yep, once again we are shifting the burden because cleaning and washing nappies is just way too hard.

Wet wipes

Wet wipes in a Sydney sewer system

I can’t even. The whole situation makes me want to run away and hide, but the reality is there is nowhere to go. So, I am taking charge of my own environment and doing what I can with what I have, where I am.

So…much as I want to hide my head in the sand, and I feel a sense of total despair while writing this, I would like to share some small steps we can all take to make a difference. I could actually write about a thousand steps, but I am starting with the ones I have begun doing and I will add more in a future post.

  1. Refuse and stop using single use – anything. This goes for water bottles, shopping bags, plastic cutlery, plastic dental picksters, disposable razors, coffee cups, straws – anything. Spend a few dollars and buy a reusable or at the very least compostable version of it all. It will actually save you in the long run in some instances. I’m playing a game with myself, that if I forget to take my bags or buy more items than I planned for the bags I have – I need to carry the items, as I am going to carry my own burden from now on.
  2. Buy unpackaged and bulk wherever possible. Why oh why do we package apples, bananas, potatoes and other items? Because it’s easy and we can’t be bothered washing them – again shifting the burden. If people stop buying them, they will stop wrapping them.
  3. When you must buy packaged, try to get it in glass if possible, it’s not always, but there are many glass options.
  4. Refuse wherever you can, even small things such as receipts, (do you know how much BPA is in receipts?!?!) flyers, junk mail, printed invoices, paper bank statements, bills. We don’t need them most of the time, and usually throw them straight into the rubbish and most things can be sent online now.
  5. For the paper towels – this was one of my last changes. I have a combination of things, old clothes, old tea towels I found at a second hand shop, cloths made by a friend and for when I really feel I need a paper towel I have bought a packet of bamboo washable ones. I suspect this will be a short term solution but for some of the things I do in my business hygiene is very important so this is my measure for now.
  6. Toilet paper and wipes – use recycled toilet paper (we use Pure Planet and there are arguments for and against these services so do your research to see which suits you best) If you want to use some kind of wipe, you can try reusables, but you might want to consider installing a bum hose/bum gun/bidet. I have written previously about my love affair with them here. They are amazing!

I will leave it at these six suggestions for now, as small sustainable steps are the best way forward and less overwhelming to incorporate into a new daily routine.

If we can all take just one small step a day, collectively we can make a difference. Our future, and the planet we are leaving our generations to come are depending on it.

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