As time goes on we are urged more and more to separate, classify and recycle waste. This is of vital importance and contributes greatly to the protection of the environment. And yet, it always worries me when I am recycling and I realize just how much packaging waste is produced every day. Why don’t we go to the heart of the problem and set ourselves the task of reducing the amount of packaging we use as much as possible?
Separating and recycling plays a positive role in conserving and improving the environment, but it seems obvious that if, instead of recycling all the packaging we use today, we only had to recycle half the amount, we would optimize environmental preservation. And so, why do we produce so much packaging? Who benefits from producing so much seemingly unnecessary packaging? Is it really necessary in order to preserve the quality of the products?
One example of this is bottled water: we could say that the companies who sell it are really selling plastic- making it a highly contaminating product which encourages people to consume small bottles rather than big ones, which would surely contaminate less. Then there are all the products that are packed inside another larger container, which in theory serves to protect the quality of the product…Thousands of examples can be found in products that we consume on a daily basis.
Another example of the over-consumption of energy is the issue of Christmas lights: Decorations lit up in the street produce an immeasurable waste of energy: you could say that “they make Christmas what it is”, they decorate the city and make us experience and feel the magic of Christmas, but in recent years the lights are put up earlier and stay on for longer, helping to encourage consumerism.
We are in a consumerist society, but does this mean that everything is acceptable here and now? Or do we believe that in order to leave a more habitable world for tomorrow, all this should be revised? The Letter of Peace reminds us that we must work just as hard for the people of today as for the people of tomorrow in order to build peace; and in line with this if environmentalism is understood correctly it could play an important role in making our world a better place to live in.
Fortunately, initiatives that try to deal with the root of the problem are being implemented, such as a recent initiative launched by the Catalan Government (la Generalitat de Catalunya). The campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of moving away from consumption in order to be more environmentally sustainable. It boasts the slogan “ Reducing waste is the first step” (www.aquireduim.cat). The campaign’s website gives pointers on how to reduce waste and in this way contribute to a sustainable society, as well as offering information on where unwanted items can be donated: this resource helps people understand the problem created by excessive consumption at the same time as offering advice on responsible consumption.
EulÓlia Bori Ribas (Economist)
Spain - Barcelona