The danger of doing your bit
Illness contracted from poorly maintained carrier bags is modernday natural selection at work, but exploding compost heaps? Now that’s just bad luck…
Ioften suggest to people that they should consider a compost pile. What I’ve never said is that they should also be aware that this seemingly innocuous pile of decomposing vegetation is capable of spontaneously combusting and razing their property to the (now more fertile) ground.
This calamity happened a few weeks ago at a Rotorua school. I had no idea you had to beware your compost doesn’t combust?
I once read that composting at home saves the equivalent of all of the CO2 your kettle produces annually. If that isn’t a mind-bogglingly banal fact I don’t know what is. It’s also a little discouraging. Who knew there wasn’t such a thing as Green tea?
When asked what people can do I look for tangible
“It’s simple hygiene, a form of Darwinism based on a lack of diligence and detergent.”
small-scale solutions, something they can see making an actual difference in their communities. Some on Waiheke are trying to get plastic bags banned from the island. A commendable cause, and not without precedent.
You don’t have to believe the Big Picture narrative that you’ll significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels to agree to ban the bag. Many places have banned them because they escape into waterways where they cause mayhem by blocking storm-water drains, sewers, and fish innards.
When I visited Rwanda, which has such a ban, there was a large sign at the airport reminding people of both the fact and the fine should they be found in possession of these contra-bags. But this is a country that also sees Umuganda Day held every month. On this half-day of national service it’s illegal to undertake any enterprise other than volunteer community work. That is unless you are employed by the state to ensure that the law is being upheld. How delightfully community minded.
But! wail the naysayers, with plastic bags banned in many locales around the world some have reported a concurrent rise of food-borne illnesses. It seems people don’t wash their reusable bags after cramming them with groceries, allowing them to become vectors of disease rather than handy haulage options.
This shouldn’t be taken as a negative. The same thing would happen if people didn’t do their dishes. It’s simple hygiene, a form of Darwinism based on a lack of diligence and detergent.
Perhaps the bigger question is how many people remember to take their reusable bags with them? I own multitudes and invariably forget to return them to the car for that next stop at the supermarket (on a multitasking car journey of course).
This leads to the inevitable fruitless meander through the aisles looking for a cardboard box, quick mental calculations to figure out if it’s instead possible to carry everything, (usually the decision is yes when the answer should be not really), and then precarious tottering across the car park juggling produce while trying find my keys.
Here arises another eco solution that could be more dangerous to me personally than to those who engage with it. That’s because it relies on my suggesting quite strongly that we, as a nation, are bad drivers.
We must all learn how to drive more sustainably. It’s not a case of limiting the number of journeys taken. Some businesses have reaped huge savings from training their drivers to simply drive more economically. Downers NZ, for example, reduced its fuel use by 20%. Imagine if we aimed for that as a society. Heaven forbid that we mandate compulsory driver re-education to show people how to do such a thing.
And who, other than fuel retailers, could argue that that’s a bad thing? Perhaps only the tax department who would also see a decrease in their extortionate fuel tax revenue.