I’m Not A Gardener!
When I first read about indoor gardening I wasn’t really interested. I wasn’t even really tempted to bother learning how it would work. I could just keep buying my food in the store after all. And being a busy working mum, I had no time for growing food in any case.
Like so often in life we tend to only act if something important and concerning comes to our attention. Something which is bad enough to make us find new ways of doing things.
Looking into indoor gardening was such a realization for me but only once I read an alarming news report. Most of the fruits and veggies my country was importing were highly contaminated with chemicals. The problem was deemed a health risk to the public. Indeed, the government had suspended imports from certain regions until such issues were resolved.
Our Food, Our Responsibility
While most countries have quite a good control mechanism to detect such things, not all countries really focus on this. I learned that I cannot just trust that the food I am buying in the markets is healthy for me. Distributors and retailers will always use substances to make it either look shiny or to keep it fresh for longer. That’s just the commercial reality of it.
I was naive and did not think about this up until I became aware that I need to protect myself and my family. I realised that I cannot hand this responsibility over to a government entity or a retailer.
This was when I realized that I wanted to know where my food was coming from.
Does Your Food Have More Tier Miles Than You Do?
If you dig deep into where food is coming from you will be surprised to learn how far it has traveled to be with you now. Often food is produced in one country, shipped for packaging into another country, forwarded to yet another country for labeling and sent somewhere else to be sold. That happens with fresh produce as well as long-life items.
Imagine if our food packaging had to include the number of miles it was transported. Wouldn’t we think twice about buying some of those items?
The deep-frozen shrimp you’re cooking for dinner was caught in an ocean far from you. From there it was most likely transported across the globe to be peeled in a country with cheaper labour. Shipped into another country for packaging, it was then distributed and sold in your country. Finally it lands, exhausted, on your plate. It is astonishing that such a process can still deliver a product that can be sold at an acceptable price to the end user, don’t you think?
But at what cost I ask.
The reason why we can buy anything really cheap is because people in other countries pay the price for this by being paid badly or having to work in very poor conditions. We all like to close our eyes from that and pretend we do our best to avoid that. I include myself – I am environmentally conscious but I cannot live without my Nutella for example.
Personally I think we are too far down the line to try and convince humans to get back to where we were even 20 years ago. Everyone has a busy life to lead, and is trying to be efficient. Asking them to turn down the conveniences that are out there will just switch people off. Just imagine I would have to start growing cocoa beans to make my homemade Nutella. I guess it’s possible but I just wouldn’t be able to do it in practice.
But I don’t think it’s just a binary choice of Yes or No.
It’s About Choices
I believe that being environmentally conscious and living sustainability doesn’t mean to be perfect and cut out everything. In my view it means to be aware and to make informed choices, being aware of the consequences.
For example I try my best to avoid plastics where I can. When I buy cheese from the counter I bring it home in my reusable box instead of ready-packed from the shelf. However I recognize that there are items/products I do not want to live without and I do not beat myself up for wanting them.
Take the example of Nutella. Sorry I am absolutely addicted to this chocolate spread and could eat it just with a spoon. Back to what I mean to say. I take a conscious decision to buy the jar, and I find a useful second life for the jar and the lid. It’s good storage for crafting materials for the kids.
So you see it’s not perfect but I know I have a choice. I can actively decide which products I buy and what waste it generates. I am not going for convenience if there’s a more environmentally friendly and sustainable option. At the same time, I do not stop buying my favourites if they are not available in a format that is waste-free or I cannot produce it myself.
Individual Choices Add Up to Something Big
However with making an active choice I have been able to reduce my waste significantly. I think it is a big ask for any one individual to convince a majority of people to meet zero waste. But if we can find ways of getting people to think and actively choose products instead of just being driven by convenience and price, we could have a real impact.
In fact, we are creating a movement!
I would love to hear your stories and how you are bridging the gap between wanting to be as low-impact as possible while not wanting to give up on certain conveniences.