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Our Consumption Coma

I think I might be going a bit crazy.  Everywhere I go now I find myself cringing at the continual flow of garbage I see.  Every time I go out in public and I see people buying stuff wrapped in packaging and then putting it in plastic bags, I want to grab and shake them.  I want to scream “what are you doing?  Don’t you know that what you used for 1 second will be in a land-fill forEVER?”  I feel like I’ve taken the red pill and now, awake from the dream, can only see the matrix.

When are we going to collectively wake up to the reality of what we are doing to our planet?

In her blog Plastic Manners, Taina writes about her recent experience in a shopping mall and witnessing what she calls the ‘stream of unconsciousness.’  She at another point uses the expression “sustained consumption coma” which I think is absolutely a brilliant description of how people function in our society.  We indeed operate as if we are in a coma – that really is the only way to explain our behaviour.  Take some time to read the information she is collecting on her blog.  It’s life changing.

Yesterday at work I watched people go to the cafeteria and bring back lunch: food wrapped in paper or plastic, a plastic bottle of some kind of GMO sugar drink, plastic wrapped candy, milk cartons with straws.  They consume the food and absent mindedly toss the packaging into the garbage: out of sight, out of mind.  At one point I stood staring into the garbage can, feeling nauseous and deeply sad.

I contributed to this myself yesterday.  I bought a piece of pizza which was put onto a piece of cardboard (with a napkin) before I could stop them.  Apparently I was in a coma when I put in my order.  So back I came with my garbage encrusted industrial lunch.  The pizza was deeply unsatisfying.  I brought the packaging home to burn in the woodstove, unable to add to the pile in the garbage can even though it was ‘biodegradable.’

I can no longer enjoy any kind of fast food, even when my body appears to be craving it and I give in for a “treat.”  My brain simply will not allow me to take pleasure in this type of consumption.  I can no longer eat anything without analysing the ramifications of what I have done by purchasing and then consuming.  Not all outcomes are bad – when I buy local, organic food I feel pretty happy with myself.  Positive reinforcement.  But when I go into a grocery store, I immediately start to feel sad.  I look around and all I see is rows and rows and rows and rows and rows of garbage.  Just about every single item in the store comes in packaging, and 100% of that will end up in landfill.  Fine that some of it is ‘recyclable’ – to make paper we still must cut down trees and use ridiculous amounts of water and fossil fuels.  More water and oil must be used to recycle it.  What is it all for?  Why on earth must we wrap every single thing before we can take it home?  It’s beyond crazy.  Maybe I’m not the only one going crazy.  Apparently we all have.  Nuts.  Certifiable.  Every one of us.

For how else can we explain this collective self-destructive behaviour?

I am doing my best to reduce my garbage output but some things cannot be avoided.  I must buy meat for the dogs – and a lot of it – and it by law must come wrapped.  I cannot show up with my own jars or whatnot and get meat.  I do my best to get it wrapped in brown butcher paper instead of in plastic wrap and on styrofoam trays (why on earth do they insist on selling meat that way in grocery stores?!).  But even the brown paper is lined with plastic, and as I said above, paper is still not exactly environmentally friendly.

Speaking of which, I must absolutely get into the habit of bringing a little towel with me to the bathroom at work.  Every time I wash my hands all I have access to is paper towels to dry them.  Again, I cringe every time.  But cringing is not enough – I must find better ways of dealing with this.  A hand towel in my purse, shopping at stores like Grains and Beans ‘n Things (on Picadily one block east of Oxford in downtown London) which allow you to bring in your own packaging, of course carrying my own bags (which I have been doing religiously for some time now) and eschewing packaging on food.

Ah, food.  Seriously, it’s going to be the death of us.  How ironic.  If the toxins and poor quality nutrition don’t do us in, the packaging it comes in will.  Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.  What on earth are we going to do?

Wake up, everyone.  Please…WAKE UP!!!

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing!! And personally I think that you are the sane one in comparison to the masses. Choosing to live life in a coma without any regard of the consequences is rather insane in my opinion. Just sayin’.

  2. I was thinking about your post when I was watching the opening ceremonies in Vancouver last night. I wonder what will happen to all the ‘stuff’ after it is all over? The ‘pretend’ candles everyone had, the signs that people carried in for the different countries, the white winter outfits they were wearing (??). I was really starting to get concerned.

  3. In Japan, I was surprised to see that no bathroom has paper towels. Everyone carried cotton handkerchiefs (Tenugui) with them. They have an astonishing range available in shops – if you do google image search you can see the displays of them.

    After a few days in Tokyo, I followed their example!

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