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The Natural Mind - Waking Up - Waste

The Natural Mind - Waking Up - Waste

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Published by Alan Macmillan Orr
In this topic from The Natural Mind - Waking Up, the author asks us to question ourselves on why we waste so much
In this topic from The Natural Mind - Waking Up, the author asks us to question ourselves on why we waste so much

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Published by: Alan Macmillan Orr on Jul 06, 2011
Copyright:Public Domain


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The Natural Mind – Waking Up
alan macmillan orr 
 Any materials unused and rejected as worthless or unwanted 
Useless or profitless activity; using or expending or consuming thoughtlessly or carelessly
The trait of wasting resources
Spend thoughtlessly; throw away
Use inefficiently or inappropriately
don't know about you, but I like going to restaurants. It's nice to get dressed up and go out for a meal. Itsaves cooking (and the washing up), and you get to try all sorts of different food you wouldn't get athome. In the west, going out for a meal has become commonplace. For a lot of us, eating out is just likeany other activity we do, it doesn't have to be a special occasion anymore. We have the money to do it sowhy not? Let me start this discussion by telling you a story.
Over the
 past few years, whilst travelling, I found work cooking in several pub kitchens. I am nota trained chef, but somehow I fell into it. I found the work quite easy, and quite satisfying and it wasa good feeling cooking lunch for two hundred people on a sunday. Anytime I was short of travelling
money, I found work as a chef. It was during this period I (a) became vegetarian, (b) learnt a lot aboutmyself, and (c) learned about how much we waste.
The pointless existence of a restaurant lettuce...
I don't know about your country, but in the uk it is commonplace to provide a “garnish” with the meal, whichis basically a small side salad comprising lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and maybe some mixed peppers, or coles
law, and a salad dressing (oil and vinegar). For several thousand meals I carried on putting theside salad on without a thought. Then one day, I had a mo
ment of clarity, and I became aware of myactions.I was mid-way through scraping the almost untouched side salad off a plate and into the bin, when itcame to me. “Someone has grown this food from a seed (maybe even in a different country) and I amthrowing it into a bin where it will become compost or more likely landfill!” So I created a little flow chartwhich went something like this.Take a seed and plant it which requires peat/compost water, labour, and a plastic container if it is not grownin the field directly from seed (and electricity if it's on a production line). The seed is nurtured using water,electricity and labour. The seed
needs space to grow and so a field is
needed. The lettuce is constantlywatered and may be sprayed with chemicals, which requires labour. At the allotted time, the lettuce isharvested, which uses labour. The lettuce is washed at the farm which uses water, labour, and electricity. Thelettuce is packed, which requires plastic, and labour. The lettuce is transported to either a distribution point,or market, which uses fuel and labour. The lettuce is purchased by the pub or restaurant, which requiresmoney, labour and fuel to deliver it. The lettuce is then stored in a refrigerator, which uses electricity. Thelettuce is then washed a minimum of two to three times to make sure there are no bugs left in it, which useswater and labour. The lettuce is then stored in the fridge which again uses electricity. The order comes up for a steak and chips (with a garnish of course), and the lettuce (and all the other salad ingredients which alsohave had to follow the same process) is served onto the plate, which uses labour. The meal is delivered to thecustomer, which requires labour. The customer eats the steak and chips and ignores the lettuce. The lettuce isthen transported back to the kitchen which uses labour. The lettuce is put in the bin using labour. The bin isthen put outside using labour. The rubbish is collected using labour and fuel, and something happens to it(either burial, or maybe composting if we're lucky) which uses fuel and labour. Any questions?Please feel free to go over this again if you feel there is a point you would like to argue.Over and over, I saw this happening, until one day I decided to put a stop to it. I told the management I wasno longer going to be putting something on a plate that was being ignored as it was a complete waste of food,which is precious (maybe not to us, but think of the people who are starving). Do you know what? Theyweren't even interested. I was told to keep putting it on as customers “liked a bit of greenery” on their plate.It didn't matter what they left on their plate, because “it was all included in the price.”This really shocked me. I tried to explain that just because we had paid the farmer, and the customer had paid us, didn't make it right to waste food. I was told to either keep doing it or “if I didn't like it, I could findanother job,” which I did.I couldn't believe how irresponsible people were. How could they not care that we were wasting so much?The more I looked into waste, the more I realised that the only thing that was important to businesses wasgetting paid, and the only thing that was important to the customer was getting what he wanted. After he had paid for it, it was nobody's business what he did with it.Easy come, easy go. That should be the motto of the developed world these days, especially in massive
consumer countries like the usa, uk, and australia (and any other country that values these ideals). We haveno idea of the process to get a product from concept to the consumer, and the amount of input and effortrequired or the number of people involved. But then it hit me. Whether we needed the product, or even usedit, didn't matter a damn. What was important were the steps in between. These steps created the wealth of thecountry, and kept people in jobs.How many times have you been into bargain stores and picked up some plastic rubbish made in china for £1.00? You certainly didn't need it, it wouldn't last long before falling to bits, and you probably wouldn't useit. You bought it because it was there, and you wanted it!It seems to me that waste is an inevitable consequence of economic develop
ment. There are only somany things that people (or the country) really
need in life, and that wouldn't keep everyone in jobs. Sothey have to produce things that people don't need or in the case of that poor side salad, don't even want inorder that people stay in work. Think about it.If the pub I worked for didn't buy 100 lettuces a week for their pointless side salads, what would happento the poor old farmer? He
needs to make a living too you know! What if everyone decided not too put garnishes on the plate as eye candy? The farmer would get no more
orders, he wouldn't be able to pay his bills, and pretty soon he would be broke. And we know what could happen there don't we? He wouldstart to drink heavily, he would become a burden on the taxpayer, his self-esteem would diminish, and hewouldn't be able to pay his own taxes anymore, which would mean that the government would have lessmoney to spend on essential projects such as defence.“Look, let’s save ourselves all this trouble, and be good consumers and keep demanding a garnish on your  plate” says the minister.
 Don't deny us our Garnish
” will be on the placards waved wildly by stooges from the garnish industry.“Don't worry farmers” says the minister, whilst attempting to pacify the angry mob. “Pretty soon, theconsumer will come round, then you'll all be back in business”Cheers and shouts of “Hoorah!” can be heard up and down the country...It seems that waste is acceptable as long as people keep their jobs, because let’s face it, if people didn't wantto change their car every two minutes, or upgrade their bathroom suite or kitchen, or buy a new pc every sixmonths, what would all the people who work in those industries do? They wouldn't be able to work for eighthours a day, and there wouldn't be enough work to go around for everybody. They would all have to bemoved to part time, and then some may lose their jobs. If business is still slow, the companies will closedown, making everyone unemployed. and leaving the government with the problem.As far as a govern
ment is concerned, a little bit of waste is far better than a lot of people out of work. Come election time, the unemployed may decide to vote for a govern
ment who can providethem with work. Waste vs. Votes. Easy choice, no?Maybe you don't realise that everything we buy has had to come from somewhere? Materials do not justmagically appear in the atmosphere. All materials have come from the earth. The computer I write on, thedesk I sit at, the chair I sit on, the window I look out from, the curtains that adorn the window, the curtainrail, the screws that hold it into the wall. The building I sit in, the pen I write notes with, the notebook I writethem in, and the cup I drink from.Considering the industrial
revolution started only a couple of hundred years ago, and globalconsumerism has only been around for thirty or forty years, we are consuming raw materials at amassive rate don't you think? What do you think is going on in the factories around the world at thismo
ment? Whilst you are reading about waste, tens of millions of people are engaged in making somethingwe may or may not need, just so they can have a job!I am not against people having jobs, far from it, we all
need to work to provide for ourselves, but it isthe choice of work we undertake, and the products we make that is vitally important to the earth.We are literally eating our planet away from the inside out. We dig, and we dig, we drill and wedrill, we chop and we chop. For what?
Progress?I have often sat and watched people dropping rubbish off at the local “tip” (they do separate a lot now, somore
recycling is done) and the sheer volume of “rubbish” that people don't want anymore amazesme. With
so many eye catching products on sale, at dirt cheap prices or on long interest free credit terms people feel compelled to upgrade. They love the latest gadgets. They must have them. They must havesomething new. In my mind this is nothing more than a simple addiction.People are conditioned to believe that buying new “stuff” is why you work. It is a right, a privilege, youhave earned, by going out to work for forty hours a week. You are
. Of course this is just marketing

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