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Artificial Stupidity


Moving forward, I have decided to take on a plastic-reducing challenge set up by thewatertreeproject.com. It is simple and I should be off to a flying start since week one is about abstaining from purchasing plastic bottles. I will interpret this as plastic bottles for beverages of all kinds, including milk. Subsequent weeks might not be as easy since I have a documented weakness for takeaway meals. The whole list is as follows:

The Watertree Planet-Safe Challenge

  • Week 1: Bottles

  • Week 2: Takeaway containers

  • Week 3: Coffee / drink cups

  • Week 4: Plastic Bags at supermarket check-outs

  • Week 5: Cling Film

  • Week 6: Plastic Bags for vegetables and fruit shopping

  • Week 7: Plastic plates and cutlery

  • Week 8: Wet wipes / Disposable hankies

  • Week 9: Straws

  • Week 10: Freezer Bags / Zip Lock bags

  • Week 11: Cotton Buds

  • Week 12: Crisp / Sweet Packets / wrappers

The truth of the matter is that I have been programmed to consume. These days the buzzword is artificial intelligence but most of us earthlings have been exposed to a more sinister sort of brain training over several decades now. It happened gradually and even though, I can say with a hundred percent certainty that I have hated plastics all my life, I have allowed it to encroach on my existence. Despite finding them exceedingly ugly compared to their sexy wood and metal counterparts, I permitted and needed them in my life.

Back to those plastic bottles. It is a case of preparation and packing trumping packaging and convenience. All those that can afford a stainless steel or glass bottle, should. Sure, there might be plastic attachments or embellishments, but these are not single-use items and any leaching into your system… well, it is the price we have to pay for being on the go all the time. Prior to Covid-19, it was uplifting to see airlines allowing passengers to bring their own water bottles back on so most people could fill up at the departure gate. As for health and safety at mass gatherings in closed spaces, organisers at many stadiums still ban bringing your own bottled water.

Anyway, change is, as they say, on the horizon. Last September, Beatriz Rios wrote this article for EURACTIV.com: https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/news/fans-back-call-for-phasing-out-single-use-plastics-from-uk-stadiums/ and there is further good news in this part of the world with the reusable cup system actually being activated as early as 2018. See https://globelet.com/reusable and corresponding articles on stadiums and reusable cups made from recycled bottle caps. And, in parts of the world where this is not yet available, the advent of boxed water offers consumers an alternative with a significantly smaller plastic usage. Comparatively miniscule and recyclable.

I agree with some who say that the ban in stadiums is motivated by financial gains but without the symbiotic relationship between event organisers, venues and commercial sponsorships, we consumers would be deprived of being able to witness some of history’s greatest sporting and musical events happening globally. There are no such complications if, for instance, we turn up at our local oval to watch some weekend footie. Bring your coffee, and your whisky! Or in my case, vodka. Sadly, we have been programmed to believe that we deserve to do it all and see it all, so we want it all.

Personally, I am happier watching these live events in my pyjamas and having full and free access to snacks and eventually, the loo! Still, the politics of consumerism is a sticky web and we must accept the reality that we have all been brainwashed. The next step is to peel it off bit by bit and detach ourselves from its clutches. We must be willing to make sacrifices of the privileges and materials we grew to accept as the norm.

So, this week, bottles. Next week will be sticky: takeaway containers!

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