When we are protecting the Planet we are actually saving ourselves

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

All too often we are told to save the Planet and the majority do not seem to understand it and also hope, it would seem, that someone else, such as governments, will do it. We need to stress more that it is a case of saving ourselves and creating a sustainable future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren if and when we care for the Earth.

It is not so much (just) about saving the Planet, it is about the survival of us, the human race, and every living thing on the Earth. But to do that we will have to make changes to the way we live and electric vehicles, for instance, are not going to make one iota of a difference.

No, I am not saying that we all have to become vegans but thinking about what we eat and where it comes from is what we will have to do for certain. There are many other things that we will have to do as well, such as rethinking the way we work, where we work and live, and how we travel and, maybe also where we take our holidays, and where the things that we buy come from.

As regards the latter issue the incident with the MV “Ever Given” in the Suez Canal in early 2021 and the impact it has had should have given everyone a wake up call that our supply lines are far too stretched. It should also give us all a hint as to the environmental footprint that the goods that are made so far away from our home shores have coming via such long and stretched supply routes. In fact still months after the actual event, the ship having been, with content, impounded by the Egyptian authorities, the repercussions are being felt with many goods not being able to be had because they are in containers on that very ship. From bicycles and spares for bicycles for shops in the Netherlands and Belgium (where the is currently therefore a shortage of bicycles and spares), to folding tables for the hospitality industry in Britain, to who knows what else.

Admittedly having products made “at home”, in our own countries, again, and that goes also and especially as regards to recycling, will make them (somewhat) more expensive but the alternative is not a rosy one.

An economy, at home, that only (still) work because it sells products made abroad, mostly, is not one that will last and the outsourcing of manufacture of the majority of our products to China and other such cheap labor places has already cost many jobs. What is even worse is that those products – and that where the system, the capitalist system of perpetual growth based on obsolescence, is at fault – break down after an appointed time, generally not long after the extended warranty has run out and cannot be repaired. In fact, the products have been designed so that they cannot, often even by skilled repairers, of which we virtually have no longer any, be repaired.

If we want to save ourselves by saving the environment and the Planet we have to vote with our wallets and look for sustainably made products and sustainable products also means products that can be kept alive for a long time, the way it once was, when shoes and boots, for instance, could actually be mended, radios and television sets and other appliances fixed when they failed, often due to a burnt out fuse, a switch that had worn or such, at times even by a tinkerer in DIY. Today, however, it is often (almost) impossible to even open the case of a device let alone repair anything that has failed.

When it comes to shoes and boots, for example, aside from the fact that many are made in such a way that there is very little that can be done to them but even when they are repairable, say with a stitched on midsole or such, the so-called shoe repair places, for it is hard to find a proper cobbler today, are incapable to doing stitching repairs; “I haven't got a machine for that”, I was told by more than one place. No, you don't even use a machine for that, you use 2 bent needles and waxed thread.

Yes, sustainable products will, more than likely, be more expensive but in the long run that costs is recouped by the fact that they last longer and can be repaired and kept going for a very long time which is good both for our pocketbooks and the Planet. A complete win-win situation. But it is a way that does not tally with the wishes of the capitalist system based on more and ever more consumption, where products are designed to fail and break so that we, the so-called consumers, have to buy the same product over and over again.

Products that once upon a time were the kind of once in a lifetime or a couple of times purchases have become consumables much like printer ink or such like. Going back just a few decades the radio or TV set was something that often only was replaces every 20 or so years, if at all, because they could be kept going and going. But capitalist economy demanded more “growth” and this growth could and can only be achieved by making and selling more of the same.

We must also get away from the throw-away society in many other aspects, especially when it comes to packaging waste and waste from fact food outlets; the stuff that we “throw away”. Even with the new – well, it has been with us now for a couple of months – in the UK that no longer permits plastic flatware, aka cutlery, though it lives up the to the flat in flatware, we still produce waste because those, in fact, useless implements are still being tossed into the trash. While they may be made of wood and thus return to the earth, theoretically, they are still waste, much like the takeout chopsticks in China and Japan which gave bith to the BYO (bring your own) campaign.

We, as concerned “consumers” have the weapon in our hand to force a a change to the good of our finances and especially to the Planet and that weapon is our money. Let's cast our votes wisely.

© 2024

Recycling is not the answer

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Note: I wrote this originally in 2022) has been attacked from all sides for his comments on plastic recycling – and let me mention that I am no friend of his – he is, to a great extent, correct in what he said. Recycling is not the answer but it does not just go for plastic recycling but recycling in general as most so-called recycling is actually downcycling. 

When it comes to plastic recycling he has been more than correct because plastic cannot, unlike some metals and glass, be recycled infinitely and in many cases virgin polymer has to be added each and every time for strength. 

Therefore we need to get away from single use plastics such as plastic bottles (PET), carrier bags, and the like. Plastics that have a much longer lifespan and are a different type should not, automatically, placed in the evil department, as long as they are not single use, such as take out cutlery, for instance. That stuff does belong in the evil department as no one reuses those. 

On the other hand there are all too many things that are made from plastic that could be made from renewable sources and resources, such as wood. Bottles should, when it comes to bottles for sauces, drinks, and such like,  once again, be made from glass and they should be returned to be cleaned and reused and it should not just apply, as it used to be, drinks bottles. Also sauce bottles, glass jars, etc., should go back to be reused. 

Recycling of glass should only happen when the glass is actually beyond use, such as chipped or broken. Before that any glass containers, bottles and jars and what have you, should either be reused by the consumer in whose possession they are or they should go back to the place whence they came and be cleaned and refilled with new product. Adding a little deposit those jars would soon be returned the only problem is that we no longer have the infrastructure for such operations. 

When it comes to other things we must ensure that they are kept alive for as long as possible though that is, nowadays, a lot easier said than done as far too many products, even the likes of the more expensive “consumer” goods, TVs, radios, etc., and white goods, have been designed to be more or less non-repairable. Then again, even if they still would be we are lacking the menders to fix them. 

Clothes and footwear also are made in such a way that repair, unless one can do it oneself, is more expensive, and that is also the case with the goods mentioned in the previous paragraph, bar, maybe, white goods, to get them repaired than to buy new. Hence we have this waste problem. 

If something works, and can be kept working, regardless how old it is, it is better, environmentally, to keep it than to replace it with newer even if the newer is claimed to be better for the environment. 

© 2024

The recycle economy and others

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

There are three forms of economies, the linear one, the recycling one and then the circular one. Currently we predominately have the first two only and more often than not it is the first one, namely that we take then make then consume and then “throw away” even though there is no such place as “away”. 

Then we have the so-called recycling economy where we take, make, consume, and then theoretically recycle to make new products, with some waste still remaining. I specifically like to stress the word theoretically because while the consumer may diligently separate his or her recyclables which are then collected those, however, quite frequently end up in the same place where the waste ends up, namely the landfill or the incinerator because not enough money can, at times, be made from the recyclables. 

The circular economy everyone is talking about but unless industry seriously changes the way it operates this will remain but a pipe dream. 

Also, recycling and circular economy, the later which is more likely never to come about, are but ways and means for us to keep consuming in the same way that so-called green products are. We must reduce our consumption and we must return, in some respects, back to the future in that we need to do things again like they were done in the past, such as glass containers which are then reused, bottles and jars with refundable deposits (not new, we had that once already), tin cans, and simple cardboard packaging. 

Glass and metal can be infinitely be recycled into new products, though the former should only ever be recycled if it is beyond reuse and cardboard will simply compost, even in a domestic compost heap or composting bin. 

While glass and metal containers are heavier than plastic and thus weight as regards to transportation is an issue the benefits outweigh all the downsides as far fewer resources will be required and far less energy in manufacture. But we can guarantee that the plastic (packaging) lobby will find all manner of excuses of how bad it would be if we would do away with plastic packaging. 

If we have to have plastic packaging than the material really should be recycled in the home country rather than the recyclables shipped abroad where they are turned into pellets to be returned to turn into products or where we re-import new products made from them. Alternatively those products (packaging) should have a second use designed into it that would be automatically recognizable by the consumer. Think of Avon the way it used to have bottles that would become toys for kids afterwards. 

French and German mustard manufacturers to this day frequently fill their product, the mustard, into jars that are actual drinking glasses for reuse by the consumer and there was a time that some people would specifically buy particular brands of mustard just because they wanted those drinking glasses for reuse (and obviously they liked the mustard too). 

Or the flour mills in the USA during the Depression era who, because the realized that mothers sewed clothes for their kids and others of their family and themselves, as well as textile items for the home such as bedding, from the white cotton bags printed them with patterns so they were even nicer for reuse, upcycling. 

We have been there before and it is not rocket science but where would the economy be if we would do that, eh? It would no longer grow the way it does now and even less so if we actually made products last and made the repairable again. 

Proper design and a return to some of the ways of the past, including packaging designed with an obvious reuse would bring us a great deal further than any playing about with the way we do at the present time.

That is not to say that there was no waste in times past. There was, as we can see when we do some digging in certain places but we could advance by putting the old together with a new ideas and we would have, more or less, no waste of any kind left. 

When it comes to food waste there should be very little if people actually would learn to cook from scratch again and learn how to use and reuse leftover food. 

But food waste reduction does not start with the consumer but well at the beginning of the chain and it is also not the farmer who is to blame but the buyers who reject some produce outright because it is not the right size or shape and then, also, such as when the farmer is contracted to a certain supermarket chain or other such entity, the farmer is not at liberty to pass on the rejected produce elsewhere but is forced to destroy the rejects. This must stop. 

And any food waste that does occur, as some is unavoidable, must be returned to the soil by means of being composted, be that at home or in composting facilities. 

Returning to ways of the past in the way products are produced, that is to say made once again to last and to be repairable, and then having the skilled workers again who can repair the things expertly when they are broken, at a price that is not several times higher than replacing, learning also once again to reuse and repurpose, together with ways of reclaiming all materials from anything that has come to the end of its life will really bring us a kind of  circular economy, more of less. Whether, however, it will be entirely zero waste even then is rather questionable, but one can but aim for it. 

© 2024

The real reason they want independent farmers gone

The reason they want to get rid of the small farmer is because the small farmer is the last free person on this planet. 

Because everyone else has to depend on something else to make a living but a small farmer with a piece of land, some seed in their hands, their intelligence, the sun shining, a bit of water, can produce with no external dependence.

That is why the independence of the small farmer is seen as such a threat by those who would like to control the last living system. 

This, at least, is the way it is being approached by the western global elite and that is also why Russia, for instance, is such a thorn in their side. 

There, in a reversal of the system of the Soviet Union, and associated states, of the collective farm has been reversed and smallholdings are being encouraged. This to such an extent even that some years ago the President signed a decree into law which gives every Russian citizens, and even some “just” residents, the right to between one and six hectare of land – depending on the region – to be held by them and their kin (or anyone else the owner might with to pass it on to) in perpetuity (though the land cannot be sold). In addition to that there are then grants (gifts) to the new landowner for the building of a home and also grants for farming tools and machines (small scale). The only obligation for the owners is to live on the land, and produce food for themselves and their families, with any surplus to be sold on the local market. 

According to sources about 80% of all fruit and vegetables on the Russian markets come from such small dachas, as does 40% of all meat and 20% of all grain. 

We have to remember that the products on the markets are the surplus produced by those small farms. That is to say produce that does not stay on the farm to feed the family or families living there, or as seed for the next year, neither does it account for produce and products that may have been bartered between such smallholdings or with people in the surrounding villages. 

The small independent farmer can also supply people outside the big supply chain and that is just the reason why the global elite want the small independent farmer gone and want everything done by the large conglomerate industrial scale farms. It is all about controlling the food supply.

Environmentally though, it is those large farms that are actually bad for the environment as they are mono-cultures in general and, in contrast, the small independent farmers, especially the smallholdings, are actually beneficial as the methods are, generally, of a different approach than those of the large farms in that rarely mono-cultures are employed but they are mixed arable and livestock combined. 

While the powers that be always harp on about the environment and such instead of supporting small farmers and smallholdings they do the opposite.

When it comes to protection of the environment then it is more small independent (family) farms and smallholdings that we need and far fewer, if any, large corporate conglomerate industrial farms. Not just the results in Russia, but in many other countries, have shown that small (family) farms can better provide food security than the large ones, while, at the same time being able to benefit the environment. But that is just what the globalists do not seem to want. The food produced by independent farmers they are unable to control and control is what they are about. 

The more or less ban on saving seeds and selling, bartering or giving away saved seeds, as well as the patents on seeds and plants must be seen in this context of control over the food system. 

2024 © Michael Smith