Monday, December 29, 2008

Waste, want, morals, greed

UK's holiday waste smashes all records

Too much packaging. Haven't we heard it before? These days I tend to walk away from stuff that I might buy, but don't, purely because there is too much unnecessary packaging. (Or if the packaging is not as eco-friendly as comparable products.)

Of course this has its roots in 'stuff' travelling very long distances to come to us. Toys, fruit, cake, etc. Where food is concerned we also have the problems with preservatives.

Take festival times. It used to be -- at least in my experience with Chinese New Year, Autumn Festival, etc -- that festive goods were made in our locality and we bought these as close as possible to the times we needed these items.

My father was a pork butcher, and two nights before Chinese New Year the wet market would open in the evening instead of the morning. There the housewives gathered to 'fight' over the freshest seafood, pork and vegetables they could get their hands on.

At home, in between homework and Extra-Curricular Activities, most of us would be busy helping mum, grandmother or an aunt making the festive goodies. We then took these round to the relatives close to us, and kept some for entertaining our own guests over the 15 days of Chinese New Year.

Nowadays everything comes in double-triple layers of packaging from some factory in some country that we know little of.

Then also we are now forced to buy some types of ordinary foods in such large quantities we don't have a chance of eating it up before they rot. It's all to do with profit margins, of course. (Meanwhile people across the world are starving because they don't have any.)

I must confess that as a result I sometimes would buy a small pack of assorted vegetables instead of buying them separately. I know they would go in the pot the very same day (or the next).

Bishops target Gordon Brown in damning attack on Labour

And a few bishops are taking some politicians to task. O no! The politicians are not taking this lying down.

The fact is the bubble was clear to see. OK, we didn't understand that the triple-A rating money products were not exactly triple-A because there was some collusion between the rating agency/agencies and the banks, etc. But the fact that people were borrowing far too much -- for their properties, for their cars, for their renovations, holidays, CLOTHES -- was clear.

Still no politician was keen to breathe a word about it. No, no, no, we must not 'talk down' the economy when the going is good. It would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. End-result: so many of us are now destroyed, either because we have lost jobs or our savings, or both. (The politicians, meanwhile, still hold on to their handsome pensions and huge expense accounts. Cool.)

Joblessness is so soul-destroying.

I come from a 'saving culture'. From early on in our lives we were taught to save. My parents opened a bank account for me when I was very young. It came with a Donald Duck saving bank. I put away whatever was left over of my meagre pocket money. Come Chinese New Year or birthdays, the ang pow/hongbao/red packet money went straight into the bank.

The Donald Duck was then taken to the bank and the cashier would count out all the money and tell me how much richer I was.

I could not find anything similar when I tried opening a child account for our son. Then there also strange rules about parents and grandparents not being able to give more than a certain amount of money to one's grand/child for tax purposes.

Instead I see my son's mates spending their parents' money buying useless cards from the Londis shop to exchange at school. A complete waste of money.

Any way, what has happened is very much the result of greed. There is nothing wrong with money or even having lots of money. The Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of this world have given generously. We know. Others have given equally generously but rather more quietly to charities.

But there are those who love money too much. After you've made your first million, how much more happiness can you buy with the next million that you make? And the next?

It's back to the LOVE OF MONEY being the root of all evil.

We still do not know how much Mr B Madoff made off. How much more money does he need, I asked. My husband suggested that it was not money that motivated him, it was the thrill of doing something so outrageous and getting away with it that provided the adrenalin.

Maybe. But in the end both ordinary people and those who love to have even more money became victims.

It has been said that the economy has had a positive impact on the environment. Not because people are starting to care more for the environment as such. But the necessary consequence of spending less is a greatly reduced carbon footprint.

People are switching to cooking more at home, taking fewer holidays, etc. All this will be good for our fragile earth, I think.

For a start, I hope there are far fewer devotees worshipping at the altar of nearly disposable fashion.

I've just made the pineapple filling for some tarts to put me in the Chinese New Year spirit.

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