Friday, August 10, 2007

Renew, Re-use, Recycle...

They're the buzz-words nowadays - we're killing the planet, we're a throw-away society, too much rubbish, too much waste, too much packaging. We have to look at new and better ways to live our lives, to save our planet. We need to jump on the ecological bandwagon and live outside our Comfort Zone and try new things, even if they may be a little strange at first - this is the way of the Future, if we are to have one. We have to act now to correct the mistakes made by past generations, either out of ignorance or selfishness, that has put our planet on a path to destruction

35 years ago, when I was a kid, we evidently lived in an eco-friendly Dark Age. We didn't understand back then about Renew, Re-use, Recycle. We burnt coal by the ton, drove gas-guzzling cars (well someone did - we had a Datsun 1000), lived selfishly for the moment and gave no though for the next generation which is now reaping the rewards of our hedonistic, wasteful and unthinking lifestyle.

In the 60s and 70s, we hadn't quite hit the Age of Plastic (there was a fair bit of it around, but it was considered to be less good than 'real' things made out of wood, metal, pottery/china, glass etc. - it was tacky to decorate your home in it and plastic toys never lasted as well as the 'real' ones); plastic shopping bags didn't exist - we had large brown paper (okay, lightweight cardboard) bags that, if they survived their original purpose of carrying the groceries home, could be reused as bags, wrapping paper, large surfaces to draw on - endless possibilities. I don't think there was paper recycling as such then, but ours tended to eventually get recycled into the garden by way of the incinerator. Big things came home in cardboard boxes that had originally been used to transport stock to the shop (yes, some enlightened establishments have started doing this again - what a good idea!). Most people has string shopping bags or shopping carts which sort of looked like a suitcase on wheels with a handle up top. And they lasted for years.

Soft drinks came in glass bottles. Big glass bottles that held a bit over a litre, little glass bottles that held about 300ml. All glass, all sought after by kids who would return them to shops and collect the bounty on them (only a couple of cents per bottle, but a couple of dozen bottles would 'buy' you a sizeable supply of sweets).

You bought meat at a butcher's (wrapped in newspaper or ... butcher's paper!), fish at the fish market, fruit and veg at the greengrocer's. It was local, not trucked in from interstate or flown in from overseas, and you ate what was seasonal and enjoyed the variety over the year. Other food like rice and flour came in cloth bags - about as successful, weevil-wise, as our current plastic packaging (the weevils are already in it when the bag is packed) - and definitely more re-useable. Canned goods were a source of, well, food and containers - cans were re-used to store workshop junk, bits and pieces in the house, and almost every home boasted a pre-school crafted, artistically decorated pencil holder that had started life as a can of beans or peaches. Packaging was minimal and what there was tended to be re-useable - not out of a sense of environmental salvation, but simply because that is how it was.

We kept string, rubber bands, wrapping paper, small paper bags, anything that might be re-used again - in case it came in handy (which it frequently did). Clothes were patched, mended, passed down to smaller siblings, and ended up in the rag-bag for cleaning and polishing. Our parents had been through the Great Depression and understood that renewing (or making it yourself) was better than buying another one and throwing the old one away because that was thrifty behaviour and meant they probably would be able to buy their own home. Of course, it helped that things were built, with pride, to last - inbuilt redundancy might mean initially a cheaper price tag but it also means having to throw the broken one(s) out and spend more money on another - more expense and more garbage. Cheaply-made items that didn't last were "brummy" and you wouldn't touch one with a stick if you could afford something better. How is it a 'bargain' when you'll have to shell out more money next year for another one because this one's stuffed? The local landfill is full of 'bargains'...

So, yeah, let's have a go at this new-fangled idea of Renew, Re-use, Recycle; after all, all the world's environmental problems were caused by that selfish generation just before us; poor, ignorant sods - they didn't know s**t...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cynical much? lol

Platinum said...

My cynicism's been recycled so many times the dots have come off the i's...

Anonymous said...

You tell that to the young people of today, and they wont believe you...
Oh, dear, I'm recycling Monty Python.

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