What we don’t see while we probably should
A myriad of things goes unnoticed daily. In a rush of modern life we don’t give ourselves a second to stop, observe and search for what is hidden.
When I was little we played a game of describing an object from as many possible angles, using as many adjectives, metaphors, comparisons and alike as possible until one of us would have nothing more to add. That was exhausting, I should tell you, but at the same time enriching, awakening, creativity-driving.
Objects would suddenly become real, they would start having history, they would become alive before our own eyes.
I am an all-grown-up serious lady now and I play this game in my head, always trying to see what I haven’t noticed before and I am stunned of how many things go unnoticed daily, completely out of scope.
If I extrapolate from just objects to a broader range —
- Things we take for granted
- Things we trust blindly
- Things we do not question
- Things we automatize and include in daily routine
Consciousness is — taking 1 step further in search of reality, in whatever sphere of life — be it personal relationships, family life, professional growth, diet, consumption and even our relationships with the planet, our only home.
We often take the form for the content, desired for real, appearance for the soul. Sometimes we forget to look ‘behind the curtains’, look for the essence.
At this particularly hard time for the environment, climate and our common future let’s look at some eye-opening examples.
Here is a tomato. Ok, 3 tomatoes.
For the sake of the experiment, let’s only focus on one of these buddies.
Say a tomato weights 100 g. How much water does it contain?
Most of the people would say ‘hmm, at least 50–60 g of water’. Let’s see what maths has to say.
It takes around 140 days for a tomato to grow from seed, 55 days of watering with 300 g of water consumed by 1 tomato per session. That gives us 16.5l of water.
This little tomato you see contains almost 17 l of water invested.
Isn’t it crazy?
Think about it next time you leave food on your plate, saying you’re full, regretting you took too much, asking the waiter to clean up your table.
Think about this tomato when saying ‘it’s just one..’
…Straw, Paper cup, Plastic bag, Single-use water bottle, wet wipe….
7.7 billion people think the same daily.
World Bank’s recent report on Global Extreme Poverty shows that fewer people are living in extreme poverty around the world. Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history.
We’ve started to allow ourselves more.
More stuff and commodities.
More eating out opportunities.
Bigger cars, houses, wardrobes.
And as we allow more, we’re more relaxed and think less. We stop questioning the real cost of things and real investment of effort and resource in the creation of it.
It concerns every material aspect of our life.
- Throwaway fashion and binning clothes after only a few wears, so that to avoid being pictured in the same outfits twice on social media (a survey by Censuswide finds, and theses confirm), which is painful even to think about.
Looking behind the façade would involve counting sleepless nights of underpaid workers, sometimes involving child labor; acknowledging the dyeing of fabrics with toxic paints and, consequently, polluted with paint and foam rivers in Central and Southern Asia; CO2 emissions related to transportation to the retail shops.
Noticing the story behind A THING will eventually result in a double though before carelessly throwing it.
2. Commodities that used to make our life easier (not anymore).
Plastic cups, cutlery, bags, and other single-use throw-away items. I was curious to trace their history back to origins. I still remember my grand-parents using net bags (like on the picture below) to do their groceries, and when the plastic shopping bags only started to emerge, they were in scarcity, so grandma would make us wash them in order to use them all over again.
Obviously, the paint would wash away either completely or partially and oh how embarrassing it was to walk around with it! Makes me laugh to this day ;)
The modern lightweight shopping bag was invented by Sten Gustaf Thulin in early 1960s, he designed a simple, strong bag with a high load-carrying capacity, and was patented worldwide by Celloplast in 1965.
Single-use items started entering our lives in the mid-1980s and became common onwards.
Like almost all human inventions, plastic bags followed the slippery track of becoming a burden instead of a blessing. They have increasingly replaced paper bags, and as other plastic materials and products replaced glass, metal, timber and other materials, a packaging materials war flared up, with plastic shopping bags at the center of highly publicized disputes.
Yet again, giving a second thought about what it takes to produce this plastic bag, and then knowing that transparent plastic bags in the marine environment are mistaken for jellyfish, algae and other food by the residents of the ocean and sea should change the attitude towards throwing away (or better even taking these items) thoughtlessly.
3. But the story of the straw will stay my favorite probably forever.
Did you know that human evolution has made us associate wet lips with satisfied thirst? The introduction of straws changed the rules. Drinks that are ingested via straw don’t touch our lips and so don’t satisfy our thirst so quickly. The result — we drink more.
But then came the moment when we started to receive 2 straws at once.
You know why?
With 2 straws we finish our drinks even faster!
Our money ends up in the bar, and the straws? They end up on a landfill, they aren’t meant to be recycled, so we just generate more trash out of nothing.
Only life-cycle-thinking gives us the idea about the true cost of things, while throwing is truly a waste and a sin.
Instead of changing the habits, let’s try to change the MINDSET.
There are million little strings attached to every choice you make. And every time you chose you create your own fate. And impact.
We choose every day what we leave behind and what we carry along. We can be a little bit more careful and gentle, think a bit ahead, plan in advance, question ourselves about little things that tend to go unnoticed, and change will not be long in coming.