Single Serve Society
I am really really tired of the prevailing attitude of humanity. People seem to be really lazy, or lacking in intelligence or intuition about life and our planet and the way they affect it. It frustrates me to no end because I MUST live on this planet among people and because of the overall attitude/way of life, it is almost impossible to be able to live the way I want to/people should.
It strikes me every single day, multiple times a day. The amount of waste that people produce just for a single home is astounding if you think about it. For the most part, in our country, people waste. We waste food, we waste electricity, we waste water. We waste resources, in general. Mainly this seems to stem from the desire of businesses and corporations to make money and make a profit from their items. Therefore, they use what is cheap, not what is BEST (for people or the environment.)
This morning when I brushed my teeth, I realized that I was almost out of toothpaste. Another plastic container, thrown away. I try to reuse as much as possible but truly, what can I do with a squeeze tube for toothpaste? I am at a loss, so into the trash it goes.
My kids are currently getting free school lunches from our school district due to the pandemic (they actually qualify for free lunch anyway, but the district is providing lunch to ALL children who want it, which I really applaud them for.) So we have started picking up the lunches and breakfast too.They are wonderful. Good food that kids want to eat, and so much of it. We are grateful every day to get the “mystery lunch sacks” as my children call them. We talk about how grateful we are and should be – that the food was given to us, that it is good food, that people went to a lot of trouble. Be thankful for the blessings.
But even with all that, I look at how much plastic waste there is from single serve items and it breaks my heart. People think I am ridiculous when I tell them it makes me sick to my stomach when I throw away plastic (since much cant be recycled and SO MUCH of the items we buy comes in plastic containers.) But the only thing I can think is where all this trash is going, and how much of a waste it is, truly.
There has to be a better way. People lived for thousands of years without plastic. Sometimes, the so-called advances of science and technology actually put people backwards. The waste that has been produced from: plastic bottles, medical supplies, item containers, shipping materials, food containers…. . . it just boggles my mind.
When my son was born 7 years ago, we started out using disposable diapers. Why? Because that is what had always been done in my generation. With my older daughters, now 12, I actually NEEDED to find good cloth diapers because of a condition my daughter had, and they were nowhere to be found. Yes I suppose I could have made some but I didn’t know how, or what to use. I didn’t want to make the skin condition worse. Luckily, a few years later, people started wising up and realizing disposable diapers are a stupid invention that hurts the earth. Reusable diapers started to become available and after a month or two with my son, I invested in those reusable diapers and was as happy as could be. They weren’t too expensive, they worked well, and I wasn’t hurting the environment. It was something to feel good about. He used the fabric diapers and we washed them until he was out of diapers around age 2.
There are ways. There are ways to do things better, smarter, healthier. But it is hard to, because society/businesses cram things down our collective throats. Our country is consumed by the throwaway mentality.We could come together and just get rid of the stuff that is harmful, but I doubt that will ever happen. Society has no interest, as a whole, in doing things better (unless it involves money). It saddens me greatly, and is yet another reason why I prefer to live in my own world, separate from people as a group. I realize my thoughts are in the minority. My overall attitude doesn’t match up to my peers.
I have small children, so it is unlikely I will be able to escape the throwaway world. I will still have to buy food from the store that comes in bad containers, and I will have to throw them away. (I started at one point to keep all the containers that could be reused, but after just a short while, we had such a glut of unused containers, I had no idea what to do with them any longer.) We still try to reuse and recycle anything we can. I have containers of old clothing/pieces of cloth for projects. A general “recyclables” bin where kids can put pieces of anything they find – plastic, metal, pieces from belts and shoes, broken toys, buttons, beads, paper tubes and wrappings, any number of items. But truth be told we can only hold so much. Eventually a lot of it winds up in the trash.
The using of safely burnable items doesn’t bother me nearly as much, or items that decompose quickly. Paper plates and napkins decompose fast, and don’t leave much of a mark, Plastic sits forever, ruining everything around it. Even food, although there is waste, decomposes extremely fast, and can leave little mark behind. So food & paper are the least of my worries. If I had a woodstove, I would be burning more. I do remember having a woodstove as a child, and we would regularly burn paper trash along with our firewood. Currently, I have built a firepit at the house I’m living in, and during warmer months, I can burn paper in the pit. At least that reduces our footprint some.
I think a large part of why people don’t recycle (or simply reuse) is because they don’t think ahead. They don’t think about the consequences of using these items and throwing them away. Out of sight, out of mind. Our last house was right behind a dump facility, and trash would regularly blow into our yard over the fence. A daily or weekly reminder of people’s waste. None of us is guiltless of this, but it’s a lot easier to forget when you simply throw it in a bag and its taken away. Out of sight, out of mind (except if you live by the trash dump, like us.)
I also think that people don’t look at the bigger picture. They want ease and convenience for themselves. They don’t think of the impact to other people or how it could be harmful. Also, “everyone else is doing it”, so it is the norm. In one college class I had, we discussed a similar topic and one younger student scoffed at her grandparents, who saved all their plastic butter containers, and other containers. “Why would anyone do that?” She asked aloud. Well, in my mind, there are a lot of reasons. But to a 19 or 20 year old who has grown up in this single serve society, I’m sure it seems super strange to save any containers. Why not just throw it away and get a new one? No thought to the repercussions for all.
When my daughters were small, we used to go to the library weekly and get books to read. One was called “A Spoon For Every Bite”. It was about a man who used a new (metal) spoon for every single bite he took. He accumulated a huge pile of spoons. Although the lesson wasn’t about waste, I couldn’t help but be struck how much this is actually like our society today. Selfish, wasteful, ungrateful.
I look forward to the future, to a day when I can fully control my life and the way I live. I’m leaning more and more to going “off the grid and providing for myself as much as possible. I’ve always had an interest in nature and going back to earth, to what has been naturally provided to us by an intelligent creator. Medicines and cures from our plants, light and heat from our trees. Furniture from our wood, clothing from our animals. Going back to the way things were supposed to be, before technology supposedly “enhanced” our world. Having meaning in life, being grateful, enjoying the work you have done to provide for and support yourself. The simple joys of watching the sun come up, eating food you helped grow, using medicines you created. My own world, my way. Far away from the waste and glut and capitalist consumer driven greed.