Saturday, January 06, 2007

Whose rubbish is it anyway?

I was measuring out washing powder to put into the washing machine and I thought: why on earth do manufacturers have to package some washing powder or liquids into tablets or gel sachets, every one of which is encased in some form of pl-st-c?

The answer seems to be: because we are either too lazy to measure out the right amounts of washing powder/liquid, or too stupid to do so.

I remember washing powder as my mum used it came in big cardboard boxes. In fact everything came packaged in cardboard boxes of different weights. She would measure out the amount of powder she needed for each wash.

If those boxes were put into landfills, they biodegraded in due course. Or if they were incinerated (which is more likely the case in Singapore), it just broke down into ashes.

It is interesting to read: Me pay? I didn’t ask to be buried in bubble wrap by Martin Samuel in The Times.

Basically he is saying: why should I be paying to dispose the rubbish I did not ask for?

"We did not ask for green beans from Zambia to be available 12 months a year, cased in two layers of Cellophane and a black plastic tray. We did not ask for 20 opportunities to open new credit accounts to be delivered weekly. We did not ask for every single item of furniture to arrive requiring assembly and swaddled in polystyrene, bubble wrap and enough Sellotape to gag a busload of hostages for six months."

"We did not ask for the small high street shops to be slowly murdered by exorbitant council rents and prohibitive parking schemes that played into the hands of out-of-town supermarkets and spelt the end of daily small-scale grocery shopping, as exists in continental Europe. "

"We did not ask for half the workforce to be laid off to cut costs, so that manufactured items are now sent out in pieces, each individually protected in layer upon layer of unnecessary packaging. We actually liked it when we ordered a wardrobe and it turned up looking like a wardrobe ...."

He's right, of course. These days when I consider buying furniture, I avoid the 'self-assembly required' ones. I prefer to buy furniture that has been fully assembled on the basis that (a) I normally would need my husband's help to put any of these items together because at least two adults are needed for the said assembly, and (b) my husband's time at home is far too precious and valuable to be putting together cheap furniture.

Recently we had to buy a couple of larger items that came packaged in gigantic cardboard boxes. They do not sell these items assembled. While the assembly was easy, we are now left with mountains of cardboard. So, next week, I would have to hire a skip to throw out this rubbish (and that of several of my neighbours, it goes without saying).

Meanwhile, we've stopped shopping at a certain supermarket chain known to squeeze its producers worldwide. We've stopped buying green beans from Zambia or mangetout from Kenya. We've stopped buying strawberries except when they are in season, and try to buy local as much as possible. (I didn't realize so much of our potatoes come from Israel.)

We also annoy checkout stuff by telling them "We do not need bags" because we always bring our own (except on rare occasions when stopping at a shop was unplanned). We also carry loose fruit and vegetables to the counter and insist that they do not attempt to put it in a pl-st-c bag.

Recently I asked a young 'manager' at 'Marcus Pencer' (as my son used to call this chain), "Why are these organic vegetables wrapped twice?" He gave me a blank look.

I volunteered, "Customers who choose organic do not want over-packaged food."

Still the same blank look.

"Could you please let your management know?"

He muttered some response I did not comprehend as I marched off.

Whose fault is it that we are paying for rubbish?

We CAN do something. So let us do.

Back to Organic-Ally.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you ever shop at Tesco's, take some bags in with you, and they give you points for them. I try to recycle the thin bags that you put loose veggies in multiple times.