gleeful grandiva

creative living for big and little kids

HOW LESSONS FROM A POT CAN HELP SAVE THE WORLD

 

lessons from a pot picture

It has cooked hundreds of meals.

Filled my young sons’ tummies with healthy food.

Created countless comfort food meals for cold winter’s nights.

Saved me from ‘slaving over a hot stove’ on hot summer days.

Now it’s helping to nourish my children’s children.

And I look at this little pot and see how it can help us save the world.

 

The little pot is a slow cooker – an old Crock Pot. It was a wedding gift more than 32 years ago.

lessons from a pot picture

If you could convert electronic life into human years – like you can say one year in the life of a dog is equal to seven human years – I believe this little pot would be amazingly ancient. After all, anything electrical has a very short lifespan.

It was made before the idea of built in obsolescence crept into everything we buy. Today’s crock pots often stop working after as little as two years.

The idea of built-in obsolescence is not a new one. In fact, General Motors head Alfred P Sloane Jnr borrowed the idea from the bicycle industry when the automotive market in America began to reach saturation point in 1924.

The phrase “planned obsolescence’’ was made popular in 1954 by American industrial designer Brook Stevens.

He described it as “Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary.”

The Waste Makers, written by Vance Packard and published in 1960, was promoted as an expose of “the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals”.

Well, hasn’t business done a fantastic job of that? It really has ticked all those boxes for many of us.

All you have to do is look at a few simple statistics to know I am right.

 

MAKING US WASTEFUL

Australians produce 18 million tonnes of waste each year. Around seven million tonnes comes from the household sector. In fact, each Australian family produces enough rubbish each year to fill a three bedroom house from floor to ceiling.

 

lessons from a pot picture

If you tied together all the plastic bags used by Australians each year they would stretch around the world 24 times.

 

lessons from a pot

Australians produce an estimated 140,000 tonnes of e-waste each year. Only four percent of that is recycled.

The sad list goes on and we are not even the highest waste producers per head of population in the world – though we are frighteningly close to the top.

MAKING US DEBT RIDDEN

 

According to the latest figures, Australia’s personal debt is one of the highest in the world.  Some of this debt is attributed to personal loans and credit card debt. Imagine the debt we could avoid if we held onto things longer.

MAKING US PERMANENTLY DISCONTENTED INDIVIDUALS

A quick browse of the internet will bombard you with stories or tips on how to be happy. Clearly, there is a need for such advice which indicates many of us are permanently discontented individuals.

Around one million Australian adults will experience depression during the next year. While not all depression can be linked back to consumerism, this number indicates that material things do not increase happiness and the desire for them can actually make us depressed.

WASTE AND THE WORLD

It’s no secret our world is in dire straits and almost all of its problems stem from an imbalance created by us.

  • Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases all help trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere as a part of the greenhouse effect.
  • Landfills emit carbon dioxide and methane, plus they contaminate our soil and waterways.
  • The burning of fossil fuels (to produce the energy needed to produce all our stuff) and deforestation, have intensified the greenhouse effect, causing global warming.
  • Plastic rubbish is responsible for killing more than 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles worldwide every year.

RAGE OVER RAZORS

The obvious answer to help our planet is to consume less. While it won’t solve all the issues, it will go a long way towards restoring the balance.

I appreciate how difficult this can be given our options.

A few months ago I was looking to buy new razor blades. The blades come in a plastic case that holds eight. For about a quarter of the price of those eight blades I could buy a new razor with a blade attached, plus one extra. What really made me angry, aside from all the plastic packaging around the razor, was that the spare blade sat in a plastic case designed to hold eight blades – what an incredible waste! Yet so tempting to go for the more economical option.

Major stores have a policy of throwing out items that have been returned, I was horrified to discover.

A customer service officer in one such store told me the company she works for had this policy in place to avoid lawsuits.

“Anything that has been returned, even if it’s because the customer didn’t like the colour, cannot be resold,” she said.

“Once it’s left the store floor, that’s it”.

She said giving the items to charity was not an option either because it could still leave the company open to lawsuits (if someone hurt themselves on the item or discovered a hygiene issue) further down the track.

It goes to landfill if not snapped up by a staff member.

My son was given crutches at the hospital’s emergency department when he tore the ligaments in his ankle recently.

‘Hygiene concerns’ means he cannot return them. Similarly, there was no option to rent the $200 leg boot he was forced to wear and he cannot resell it.

LESSONS FROM A POT

lessons from a pot picture

I remember secretly thinking what a stingy person my mother-in-law was as she rewashed disposable cleaning cloths after use.

I’d see them drying on her clothes line and hope I’d never be that miserly. Not a very kind thought, I know, and I am shamefully reminded of my ungenerous thoughts every time I see my own disposable dusting cloths drying on the line.

Our mothers knew how to reuse things until all the life was out of them. It wasn’t just to save money but because they couldn’t stand waste. They appreciated the value in every creation – the energy used to make it, the transport to deliver it, the space used to display it for purchase.

My pot doesn’t have programmed cooking times, a digital control panel, the ability to sear, boil, roast, steam and double as a griddle.

It doesn’t have a ‘warm’ setting (there is some suggestion this is not a healthy option to use anyway).

However, it still cooks wonderful meals with minimum effort. I don’t see a need to ‘upgrade’ while it is still doing its job.

And that’s the wonderful lessons from a pot. Hang onto whatever you can for as long as you can. Ask yourself how vital it is to have the newest of gadgets that offer more but don’t last.

Think of the consequences of every purchase – the energy used to make and transport it, the money it costs you to buy. And how it effects our world when you throw it away for the next new thing.

When you do buy something new, consider the vintage option and if possible, repair instead of replace. And if something no longer suits your needs, consider changing it into something new.

For some really cute ideas for reusing plastic bottles and keeping them away from landfill and oceans, come back for this week’s Wacky Wednesday project.

Check out the Wacky Workshops section for some more great recycling ideas.

Have a gleeful week, Tamuria.

 

 

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22 Comments

  1. Lori English

    Tamuria,
    I learned a lot in the United states, I can’t speak for everyone but there is a lot of debt in this country as well. It is so full of material items. I am not a big materialistic person, its nice to have a house , agar, and the basics but it seems like countries all have their hang ups. I suppose I live my life the best way I can and want to as long as it is in my value system . This was a good article to learn about , Thank You, Love it.

    Lori English

    • We live in a very materialistic world and it’s hard not to get caught up in it, Lori. Seems many are just looking for the next new thing to buy without taking much care of what they already have which is, of course, their choice. I just think it’s sad when they forget the impact those choices make on the environment. It’s time we all took responsibility for the planet that hosts us. It’s great that you have the attitude of being grateful for what you have without the need for a lot of material things.

  2. We really are such a consumer society, aren’t we. Something always comes along that’s newer, better.
    Love that your pot has feed so many! And all the memories. I have my mother’s big cast-iron skillet, where she fried chicken every Sunday. Every time I use it, I see her smiling over the stove, feeding her family with love.
    Fills my heart.

    • Wonderful you have those memories of your mother cooking, Susan. Yes, we are a consumer society and we need to consider the cost in more than just money terms.

  3. Great piece and lesson in this post, Tami! I am 100% on board with all of your thoughts and observations too…this mass consumerism and waste is something we are unfortunately seeing everywhere we look today. I am challenged realizing that many people just do not ‘know’ or care to know the impact of their choices and behaviour. I am guilty at times too. We’ve grown up in a society that is based on capitalism and we are bombarded by ads and messages that ingrain in us why we need to keep buying new and better ‘stuff’. You are a shining example for raising awareness and you always offer creative suggestions on recycling and up cycling. Thank you for your environmental consciousness and for sharing the message in subtle ways to help educate and inspire us all to do better! Enjoy the meals your pot continues to make for you and your family!

    • Thank you for those lovely words of appreciation, Beverley. I have been caught in the trap myself – it’s so hard to ignore all that tantalising advertising. Like you, I am challenged by people who do not know or care how to look after what they already have.

  4. Meghan

    Awesome post! There’s no question in my mind that modern society suffers from greed, waste, and perpetual unhappiness. In our home, we go by this motto: less is more. We know that the more you have, the unhappier you are. Love the crockpot and the analogy.

    • It will be wonderful when everyone realises that things do not make us happy, Megan – attitude does. That, and being in tune with nature. Of course, that means we have to look after it so there will still be nature to enjoy.

  5. Oh Tamuria, I am absolutely with you and then . . . inventorying my own behaviors. I just upgraded my crock pot and kept my old one as well to give away when I see a need. There are several behaviors I have taken on for many years that are helpful. Yesterday when I brought my own grocery bags to the local store, a new employee thanked me for bringing my own bag. I said to her I had been doing it for over 20 years. I’d probably give myself a B. My extremely aware friends (and my BFF) would probably give me a C. My guilty pleasure is cruising.

    Thanks for this reminder for all of us to take the next step in helping with less waste and contributing in a loving way to the planet. I learned a lot from one of my top 5 novels that I’ve read, The Poisonwood Bible. Great summer read!
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7244.The_Poisonwood_Bible
    Candess recently posted…Everyone Has 24 Hours in a DayMy Profile

    • Thanks for the book tip, Candess, will have to read it. You are way ahead of the thousands who still accept plastic bags to carry their groceries. I think the trick is not to make the whole thing too difficult, otherwise, you run the risk of giving up completely.

  6. Those are disturbing facts.. and Americans are the same way. I took an environment class in college and learned more of these in that class and was amazed. And then the other side of it about stores not reselling. Too bad they can’t give away or resell with disclaimers… as that not only hurts the environment but also drives the prices of such items up… as they have to write it up as a loss. ;(

    • I think America tops the list when it comes to creating rubbish and neglecting to recycle, Kristen, with Australia coming a very close second. Not something to be proud of. The store thing is absolutely crazy.

  7. Indeed! I think of the families that I’ve seen pass furniture down from one generation to the next – and then the people who buy furniture, and then dispose of it for a newer style withing months. It makes me sad. It’s no wonder that much of the new furniture doesn’t have the craftsmanship of the old stuff. Thanks! Great post and good lessons from that pot.
    Cathy Sykora recently posted…Health Coaching Best PracticesMy Profile

    • That used to be a wonderful thing, Cathy, to pass on beautiful furniture from one generation to the next. Now it seems most people are only interested in the new, even if it’s not as well made.

  8. This is something that upsets me as well. Both my grandmother and mother taught me the value of thrift. I know there have been issues lately that recycling is not very cost effective, and it’s cheaper just to dump it. This only work so long before we are going to have to make a concerted effort to clean things up. I’m all for if it still works use it. You really don’t need all those fancy features.

    • It’s a shame when people only look at the monetary cost of recycling, Joyce, and not the cost to the environment when we don’t. If we continue to bury this planet under a pile of our own waste, where will we spend the money saved?

  9. This is a great reminder to be conscious on how we do things nowadays. Consumerism has changed everyone to be wasteful. It is true, the older generation were more aware of saving. Now, I am wondering how the future generation would be.

  10. Agree that it is important to start reducing our waste and our consumption of new things constantly. My brother’s mother-in-law actually until some years ago used to wash and reuse plastic bags that she used to put bread in and other similar food to store in the freezer. We all made fun of her. However, in the end instead of thinking it being very cheap, it is a clever thing to do…?!

    • We do tend to get wiser as we get older, don’t we Katarina? I really am ashamed at my petty thoughts about my mother-in-law’s recycling when now I realise, like your brother’s mother-in-law, she was doing a smart thing.

  11. This is a topic close to my heart. I really appreciate you bring more awareness to it too. In the US many stores are now selling fruit and vegetables in plastic baskets and bags. It really disturbs me that this is happening and I refuse to buy lower quanities at higher prices and wrapped in unnecessary plastic.

    • It’s crazy that stores are doing this now when we are supposed to know better, isn’t it Teresa? We have the same problem here and it disturbs me too.

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