Waste More, Want More

Help! I’m drowning in a sea of disposable nappies, baby wipes and soiled changing table towels covered in acid like poop. The ‘black bin’ has moved from needing emptied once a month (if even) to desperately needing emptied every other week. The heating is on flat out and we have a hall light on all through the night to prevent careless sleepy stumbles. However…this is all necessary…or is it.

Due to the crazy hecticness (this is not even a word) of new life, I think a lot of our pre-bambino ‘ideals’ of being ‘earth mum and dad’ have suffered as a result…At this stage I would probably say having a child is probably one of the most environmentally unfriendly things I’ve done…but I’m not losing heart just yet and have some good ideas, (and friends) up my sleeve.

This has got me thinking a lot about waste, and in general that I waste far too much. Currently our society is built upon trends, and when that tend finishes it is on to the next one. We buy clothes for a season and then throw them out, waste time on pointless activities because it is the thing to do at the time, and then move onto the next thing. At times it seems there is no end to it. I think it is perpetuated because most of the time it doesn’t affect us. When at university, one of my lecturers on development challenged students to see if they could live without being ‘made in China’. This is stuck with me for what-ever reason, mostly because this is a massive challenge for us.

Here’s a practical experiment- empty your pockets, handbag or rucksack right now, or check the labels of your clothes. How much of your stuff was made around the corner? I had a phone made mostly in china, a watch made in Switzerland, a t-shirt made in Vietnam, a pen made in France, a cycling helmet made dear knows where, and the list goes on. You see, we waste because we don’t see, or care how it affects our international brothers or sisters, never mind what all those carbon miles are doing to our climate.

Food waste is another massive issue. One of the ‘big four’ supermarkets published a report on food waste this year- the headline stated that in the first six months of 2013 over 30 000 tones of food was wasted by them. To put that into perspective that is the weight of a cruise ship, 30 000 elephants or a few thousand of us after our dinner on the 25th of December! Fair play to this supermarket, and I understand why they haven’t done this before…it can’t be good for PR…but it’s not only the supermarkets involved in this scandal , as the report stated that the average UK household wastes one third of  the food they buy, equating to around £700 a year. In 2012 there were 26.4m households in the UK giving a total food waste cost of £18, 480, 000, 000. Imagine the good you could do with all that wasted cash!!

From my reading of the gospels, I don’t think Jesus was up for this waste of resource, food, finances or time. One example is in John 6 vrs 12 ‘and when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”. I love that. As we read on through the gospels we see the holy spirit prompting the early church to not eat unless everyone around them could eat, and helping to give to the poor at every opportunity.

This time of year, all of our waste comes to a head. Pointless gifts, too much food, and time fretting over what social gathering to go to. I’m not going to lie, I love the Christmas, but I have been challenged this year about not wasting it. I really want to re-learn the significance of what ‘Love came down’ means. In church we have been following an initiative called ‘Advent Conspiracy’ check it out here: www.adventconspiracy.org which is challenging us to ‘Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All’. Maybe in the last few days in the lead up to Christmas instead of feeling stressed about getting those final bits and bobs you could…decide for yourself…

I don’t know much about being a parent so far, but something coming through really strongly at this early stage is the importance of being intentional…Our following of Jesus should costs more than our wallets…at the end of the day it cost him his life.

Love came down…

4 thoughts on “Waste More, Want More

  1. on a practical note, why not try washable nappies? they’re great- save money and waste. the ones we use (BumGenius) may be made in Egypt (food miles) but they have a factory there where they pay their workers a fair wage and give them good conditions, so I am told. You can use washable wipes too – actually so much better than the disposable ones, and on a quick eco wash it doesn’t take long. I hated all the black bin bags and now we have hardly any. Also most of our kids clothes are third or fourth hand, and then we pass them on some more. We haven’t hung onto any of them after our first child – assumed we’ll always get given more if we need them if we have any more children. And of course we have… God is abundant and generous and also it means I’m happy that those clothes have done two or three more children in between. Toy libraries and book libraries also are brilliant if you have any near you. The house doesn’t then get filled up with plastic noisy tat that isplayed with for 10 days then left. It’s been really good for teaching my daughter too that we don’t need to own thing s to enjoy them. We borrow them, then give them back so other people can also enjoy them. If she really likes a book/toy and asks for it repeatedly once we’ve taken it back, we can either borrow it again, or ask someone for it for Christmas/birthday. Also is teaching her to wait for things…something I’m really keen to instill, and to learn myself, as we’re in such a ‘have it now’ culture.

    But yes, I know what you mean about the journey of parenting- it’s so much more than about stuff, but so easily it can be an excuse to get consumed with consumerism (it’s making them happy/giving them a good childhood/so lovely to give them what they want) .

    Thank you for a well written and encouraging and challenging in equal measure. I’d love to think more about this in between clearing up sick and hanging out washing, as is a parents wont in winter with toddlers..your article has helped me do that. Will chew on these ideas instead and try to chew on less pointless food over Christmas!

    • Alison, wow you’re nailing the ‘earth mother’ scenario…well done, and thanks for the brilliant tips. A friend in church gave us some research into cloth nappies so we’re gonna give that a go in the new year! Have an inspired Christmas!

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