Reflecting on Consumption: Forget the Marshmallows

October 23

I forgot the marshmallows! Well, I didn’t really forget, though I was pretty tired in the morning not having slept well. We had an unseasonable high of 22 degrees and I didn’t really think we needed a fire. Besides, I reacted badly to the smoke of the fire yesterday and my head still felt thick through the day.

I apologized about the marshmallows, citing my reasons. I’m not sure my son is convinced.

We drove back and forth to the Centre. I fondly remember when I used to bike up this way when I had my office across the street at the university. I even have a pair of studded tires hanging in my basement, which I didn’t use much because I was afraid a wipe-out would wreck the laptop in my panier bags. I miss biking. There is a beautiful freedom in getting on your bike and going. And it helps immensely to improve one’s mood.

Today, I carted two kids up to the Centre for 9 o’clock in our 2007 Prius. It takes me 20 minutes to drive from my house and about twice that to bike. It takes my kid at least an hour. But I wonder about biking. Yes, we have a Prius, an older, much cherished vehicle whose hood opens with a bit of wire rather than the internal latch. That broke a year ago and my husband, handy person that he is, fixed it with a modified latch and a bit of wire. I feel good about that. But I love biking. So does my son. We bought him a very nice bike (I’m don’t get sucked in by most advertising but I’m a sucker for top quality long lasting gear). And we’re not biking, despite the fact that my paniers won’t be carting any precious lap top to and fro and, more importantly, all my work is backed up on the cloud and on an external drive. 10 years ago, I wasn’t as good at backing up and I was terrified of loosing the hours of work housed in my laptop.

Copyright Leigh Symonds
Copyright Leigh Symonds

But my son is not one to rush. Biking anywhere is enjoyable. Just not fast. 12 km one way would take him an hour. Is that too long? Right now it is. But is that my perception of time? Does that reflect hyper-consumption? I am stressed and not sleeping. I do not pause in the day. Cycling would improve that. My mind chugs in slow circles. 2 hours of cycling. More in the winter. I can hear the gears grinding in my brain. I think there is a bit of smoke.

Lunch, again, is a mixture of fruits and veggies and chocolate and a Wow butter sandwich packed in our Planet boxes. Breakfast was yoghurt and nuts. The nuts are peanut free as my son has a peanut allergy. They come in plastic containers sealed for our protection. I have written the company, Royal Nuts, about this. They didn’t reply. I should write them again. Or call. Surely, there is a way to loose the packaging.

Copyright Leigh Symonds
Copyright Leigh Symonds

We didn’t use the lanterns. That’s fine. They will be there for next week.

Dinner is homemade hamburgers made from local organic grass-fed beef. With potato home fries and cauliflower. There is ice-cream for desert for my Dad and son. I wince, remembering the 11 billion dollars spent in Europe on ice cream as listed on Global Issues ‘Consumption and Consumerism’ page in 2014. According to them, it would take 6 billion and 9 billion dollars respectively to achieve basic education and water/sanitation for all. This disparity has likely increased by now. They also list the difference in global meat consumption between wealthy and poor communities. We try to buy local and organic but we still eat a lot of meat. My husband and I have a few squares of Cocoa Camino chocolate for dessert. I’m sure there are hidden costs there as well, despite the Fair Trade logo.

I bought nothing today. But I did consume. That consumption came with a price: plastics and movement of food from one locale to another. It brought single-use containers into our house that will end up in the blue box, hopefully to be recycled, but not necessarily. Hidden costs which contribute to lack of education and clean water in the world. I resolve to make our own ice-cream more often.

References

Shah, Anup (2014, January 5). Consumption and consumerism. Globalissues.org. https://www.globalissues.org/issue/235/consumption-and-consumerism.

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