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