Saturday, May 14, 2011

A continent of mistakes

There is a new continent forming in the pacific ocean! A vast new continent twice the size of Texas and it's growing each year!!

Unfortunately, this is not good news, as the new continent is formed by waste we throw away, things which are not bio degradable. When we made them, we knew these stuff (polythene, plastics) would last long and causing problems but we have simply thrown them away from our immediate neighborhoods and looked the other way pretending the problem is non existent.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a testament for human selfishness, ignorance and mad consumerism. Something we all should be ashamed of. A child born out of : ignoring a problem, laughing out early indications of a problem, pretending the world has unlimited natural resources and pretending the world has unlimited capacity to take on the waste we produce.

A continent of a monument to show, remind and alert us the on our greedy lifestyles and the direct results of consumerism! For more about this continent and to know why we are already powerless to reverse the damage, visit here and here

An interesting thing to note is the list of surrounding countries of the proud new continent. America, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan...  So called developed world and few countries who have achieved fast economic growths recently.

However, the biggest tragedy of all is may be the fact that even a continent of mistakes is not enough to waken us up! Instead of consuming less, producing less, re-use and recycle, we are still thinking of how to continue and even accelerate our proven faulty life style....

If this issue is so real, why don't we discuss about it more often ? Why is media silent about this ? There lies the other tragedy of current generations. Mass media is not acting as a solution, it's a part of the problem. Media needs consumerism to survive! If the real answer is to Restrict our usage and consumption, how many people will really like to hear that ? If the consumption and production to go down,  what will happen to our lifestyle and 'economic growth' we are so taught to believe in ?

OK, let's look at this from a different angle, What we just discussed was one result which we are powerless to reverse anymore. Let's start from the point of generation and see what produced this, how and why ...  

Let's Imagine a house with just the basic little amount of furniture, less electrical equipments and gadgets.. think about a place with only most needed equipments and nothing else. Such a place would have empty spaces to move about, less clutter, less amount of cleaning and maintenance. It will have simplicity and would serve to add a sense of serenity and peace of mind.

Now compare it with a house full of gadgets, equipments, furniture and what not. When we imagine, we have to be realistic (the things TV adds won't tell us), some of things in such a house may not be working. Some of things may be missing among number of other things. Some things may not be as clean as we would like them to be, for keeping all those things in an orderly manner, in working condition and keeping them clean at  all times need time and attention. Not just once or twice, but daily! Things demand time and attention from us don't they?

Things we have, sometimes tend to define who we are, if we have way too many things, we are bounded, restricted and limited in freedom because we have to maintain those things while a person without them is free of that burden! If we  have a car, we have to wash it regularly, make it clean, keep it serviced, get it repaired when it breaks etc. Now, what happens if we have 2 vehicles? it's even more of work. Those tasks of maintaining our cars eat up our time, energy and focus. In a sense, car will start to own us that way since it get us to do things for it. More things we have, more slaves we become of those things we own.

It's very important to decide exactly what things we really need and not committing to too many physical things in our lives. Even when we see a moderate convenience of having something, we should question ourselves, is it really worth the trouble of having it? How will it be few months after purchasing, will it still going to be that useful and look that pretty ? will we really use it that many times as we expect to ? or will it be like that exercising machine under a bed which we haven't taken out in a month?

Just buying something is not the end, paying the monetary value is not the end, things have hidden price tags attached to them. Every thing needs some time and attention from us. This untold price is mostly go unnoticed when we buy something. We are trained to see a purchase as a win if it's 'cheaper' than the market value. Well, come to think of it any price would be too expensive for something we really don;t have a need for. We are not entirely at fault for getting blinded for that simple fact, for we are being continuously attacked day after day by media and social peer pressure to buy this and buy that. Advertisements! If we have some extra money at hand, resisting the urge to buy something is simply not as easy as it sounds. Not only us who get those urges, our kids, spouse, brothers/sisters they also get the urge to 'take something home'!

So eventually any quite peaceful house becomes a junk yard over the years. Full of things which are either not used regularly or can not be used effectively for some reason or simply we don't anymore have time  to sacrifice for them.

What if we clean our houses of stuff which are not absolutely needed ? that is good but it's not the proper answer. When we buy a thing which is not absolutely needed, we have already done the damage! Getting rid of them from our houses means we are simply putting the burden on somewhere else and going to selfishly look at the other way. This was exactly what produced the continent of waste we just saw!

Proper answer is to limit the consumption and produce less, then reuse and recycle the rest! So called 3 R's of Green Peace. Restrict, Re-Use and Recycle.

After all, 80% of stuff we think are useful and must haves are really not! we could easily and more conveniently and more freely live without them! Still doubtful about the real 'value' of stuff we have and what it is doing to us? read here on the subject of stuff. To identify the shallowness of buying and owning stuff and to move away from it, one does not need to be an environmentalist or a socialist! Just stopping being a mindless slave (following the fashion) to consumerism is enough so it seems.

In a future post, we will look closely for the ways out of consumerism and how to live happy and healthy lives without destroying the world. Is it possible at all? Are humans just hard wired to senseless consumption or is moving out of consumerist lifestyle the coming next big thing  in human society ?

Meanwhile, here are few past related posts.

Middleground on Capitalism and Socialism, Where have you gone ?

End the burning, Cool down and Clean up!

Lighting Up The Dark!


PS : Added two sequels to this :

How to reduce consumption and still enjoying the life and

Current trends which are already taking us in that direction.