Something has been bothering me for a long time: waste.
Attached to this is the way that, when trying to do the right thing, life seems to be getting harder.
Specifically this was made painfully clear when I arrived at a newly discovered local farm shop, where I could buy some amazing vegetables without any of the plastic with cash knowing they were locally grown, had stopped selling vegetables because they just couldn’t afford to anymore. Another farm shop sells everything in plastic bags or boxes and it is not local produce. I need to test out another one but past experience has found everything to be a bit battered.
It feels to me that our society is getting progressively worse at acting on the truth that our comfort and convenience are not the final and ultimate good. All sorts of new trends have been appearing over the last few years but with so much of it I feel like we’re desperately trying to ignore the pain and destruction we are creating in our world.
For example, I have been tempted for a long time to order those monthly boxes, for myself or my children, but I can’t help but think of the waste of it all. A monthly box of stuff appearing to gradually fill our houses, to entertain momentarily but sit or be thrown away after a relatively short lifespan.
Likewise, the packaging to so much seems to defy common sense with so many products. Fruit such as watermelon, pineapple, bananas, oranges, lemons, lime, ad infinitum, do not need an extra layer of plastic to protect them, nor do we really need each one to be sliced, diced, moulded, etc and thrown into more plastic bags, boxes, and containers.
I have started continually having in my mind the question: Where does this all go? Why is no-one listening to the truth? Why does no-one seem to care?
Once you admit that “throwing stuff away” is only actually transporting it to a different place, a place nearer other people, poorer people, somewhere we can’t see it, don’t have to smell it, don’t have to step over it, everything becomes much more serious and much more bizarre. Why is it that in the midst of Birmingham Binman strikes, where everyone is complaining about mountains piling up in the street, no-one is really suggesting a zero-waste (or at least LESS waste) would be a solution? Why are my in-laws recycling rules changing to only recycling plastic bottles and nothing else, when in fact we should be recycling more not less? Why when climate change and environmentalism should be a high priority for our young people is pretty much everything that is made for them formed, packaged, and publicised using plastic? Why are we either wilfully oblivious or naively accepting of the fact that our food system is being poisoned with plastic, that our diets and ways of life are contributing to the death of the planet, and that the Great Barrier Reef being declared dead is a supremely huge deal for all of us?
I’m beginning to get really angry because despite my protestations, my suggestions, and my research into alternatives, very few people on the whole seem to be taking steps to change things. So I’m attempting to push that anger into something productive, something positive, and looking back at myself, my own eye-log, and working out a plan to change me. This will include the invitation to others to come and learn and enjoy and reflect on their own part. One might affect one who affects one more, and so on.
I’ve been thinking, praying, and researching a lot about eco-friendly ways of life, nature-related skills, advances in technology that could make a difference, and a spiritual model that could help settle such lifestyle distinctions in a form of worship, a way of supporting church and community, of providing hospitality and sanctuary to those in need, to giving as much as possible to those who require it more than I might possibly understand.
So far ideas about monastic communities, artistic pods of creative energy, boiler rooms of prayer, husbandry and stewardship of our natural resources, zero waste initiatives, and support for those requiring a refreshment, an embedding or rooting into what we are as humans on earth in comparison to humans using the earth.
What is amazing is the number of people who have appearing out of the woodwork with advice, reading material, suggestions, help, and ideas. Despite my previous comment that people don’t seem to care, small lamps hiding under society bushels do care and are desperately trying to shine out in the world. It is these voices that give me renewed hope: if the church and communities actually start fighting for creation, praying like it all relies on God and acting as if it all relies on them, sacrificing luxuries of the world so everyone might enjoy a few more luxuries of nature, living simply so that others might simply live, then maybe we can save the world.
I have a dream that I seem to have been wrestling with for over a decade, and God seems to be pushing me down a line that I don’t fully understand or feel ready for. But I better get ready, because the world doesn’t stop turning, and God is on the move.