Waste - Want - Wonder, Why asking what-if helps us tackle the beasts of our time.
Waste – Want – Wonder.
Why asking what-if helps us tackle the beasts of our time.
Working in the industry of zero waste, I often think to myself that waste is a by-product of a larger problem.
When we scratch the surface of our waste problems, there are always other questions that need to be asked. Rather than solely focus on how we, as individuals, should dispose of unwanted items (which, in itself, is becoming a great mind-f***), we need to be critical of the bigger picture. For a start, why are the market’s most “decompostable” products never actually arriving at their industrially compostable homes?
When we consider waste as a side effect of societies’ ailments, we realise it’s a beast of a topic.
But how do we eat a beast? One bite at a time.
Waste is caused by an incessant desire for more. Compare our lifestyles to a mere 20 years ago, when, from a western perspective, we had enough. And yet, we have moved on to have more technology and more products, which are always marketed as the best solution for our ever-growing list of problems. With more, we can do more, at a speed we’ve never seen before – or so advertisements want us to believe.
But we suffer as a result of all this so-called progress. Poor mental health issues are just another consequence of having too much technology, too much stuff and too much speed.
Let’s also look at changes in our houses in the last fifty years. Setting aside the necessity of installing heating and insulation – it always gets me that kiwi housing initiatives have lagged so far behind on taking the need for warmth seriously - is the desire to have bigger houses and to fill them with stuff. Beyond making our homes warmer and healthier, the overwhelming urge is to have the flashiest kitchens, and the trendiest tables, chairs and L-shaped sofas. The keeping up with the Joneses list goes on and on, with no signs of stopping.
The biggest problem is our wants never seem to be satiated
What is it about our human psyche - seen the world over - that nothing’s ever enough?
A billionaire’s bank balance and assets are so momentous that it must surely be impossible to spend in their lifetime. Yet, why do they want to control our governments and industries so they can continue to grow and accumulate more wealth?
Even at a basic human level for food, we see obesity taking a firm and worrying grip on the world. Why is it so hard to say: thanks very much, but I have enough?
What would our world look like if we talked more about how to manage our desire for more? We should run courses on this! A fundamental part of our survival depends on learning how to manage our constant desire for more.
I’d love to see the marketing campaign for that!
I know it may sound like communism and will spark much controversy, but what if we seriously considered a cap on income? A complete maximum that anyone can attain. One person said to me, when you place a cap on something, a person will no longer try to work harder, and it stifles growth. But in some ways, that’s the point. Without a maximum in place we just want to go on and on. Our planet simply cannot cope with that; it will be our own downfall.
I wonder, too, what work would look like with a maximum threshold in place.
One thing we don’t want to cap, though, is the level of good we can do for others. Not just for humans, but for animals, plants and trees. What if the capacity to do good, much like greed is today, becomes limitless?
Reducing our desires and our working hours gives us more time with our families, friends and enhances our ability to volunteer, give back and do good. Surely this would make us happier and healthier and make the world a better place.
What if we lived in a world where it wasn’t all about never-ending GDP growth?