Letter to the Editor – Climate Change

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Dear Editor,

I came back from a modest shopping trip yesterday and two experiences made me understand that I have to not pay attention and get frustrated re the irksome downloading of the responsibility for climate change on to consumers’ individual shoulders.

If the huge conglomerates who manufacture, package, enrobe, produce goods, or sell stuff in the mega quantities do not change their outputs, how can I, the individual consumer, reduce my footprint? As a household, we do what we can and what we can afford.

I went to buy a bit of meat, fruit, vegetables, and a few other items. Once home, the packaging of some items defied my strength to easily open. That led to a whole series of why’s.

Perhaps many of these were because I had shopped in a mega super market? Why was I wrestling to open the salad plastic container and failing? Why are dill pickles encased in a plastic container that entails using implements such as knives, scissors, and finally pliers to take the top off the container? This container is also non compostable, non biodegradable, and the company took it upon themselves to say it was reusable.

Sounds good…reusable, doesn’t it? But how many reusable such trays are in fact needed by one customer!? And for a similar cost, could the container be easy to open and biodegradable?

Why is meat in the supermarket in non-recyclable-non-biodegradable styrofoam trays? Why is such strong plastic used to encase so many products? Why is it so hard to find “unscented” cleaning and other stuff, when, more and more, the public spaces are signed “no scents allowed”? Why are grapes in heavy plastic ziplock non-compostable bags, pre-filled with more grapes than two people need? And many other why’s…..

Having wrestled my purchases into submission, I decided to watch a favourite program and to relax. A Government announcement caught my attention during a break. Each person must be careful to reduce, or watch, or to take care of the size of their carbon footprint, was the gist of the message.

Well, why are these announcements not accompanied by information on what the government has achieved in reductions to this point, since the start of their mandate? Why are governments of all levels not urgently coordinating their efforts to put forward STANDARDS to advance the day so I, the consumer, can achieve a carbon neutral footprint in going about my daily life?

BUT, MORE IMPORTANTLY, why are not more manufacturers and purveyors of products not more vigorously proactive in changing their products to be more “carbon neutral”, more healthy, more environmentally friendly, less encased in packaging that goes to landfill? Why should they?

Because they, too, should care about the health of our Earth!

There are costs to any change. But to change, shouldn’t there be substitutes available? But perhaps the consumer’s duty is to NOT CONSUME, if possible, whatever it is that has been declared by the experts to be less than optimum for health, safety, economy, or efficacy? However, perhaps not always practical?

Consumers, otherwise known as Customers, have a great deal of power to drive change by their choices. In many instances they have. We do know the oceans are in trouble due to plastic fill, etc. We do know species are disappearing. We do know space around Earth is full of junk.

We do know that without farmland we cannot grow food. And there are so many other things we know regarding what needs urgent action. Now we need to act individually and to push for governments and industries to ACT for the next era. Hopefully, it is a change from the plastic to the biodegradable era? The ONUS is not on one area, it needs to be an across the board revolution!

Where will the leadership come from? I am frustrated by announcements regarding 2030 or 2050! Now?

Rather than a general defining of climate change as the driver of urgency, the issue is more stark if the endangered are articulated! If the birds in the air, the fish in the oceans and waters, the animals and mammals, the air and the water, and the land for growing food: all are compromised.

Is there time to change to a new manufacturer and consumer? Will the Earth be helped by us in enough time, so elephants and dolphins and monarch butterflies, and fireflies and many other wonders will go on?

As you see, dear Editor, this thinking has been simmering a long time. I never thought styrofoam would crystallize it in such a way.

Thank you.

Best wishes,
Nadia Gray

 

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