Are we willing to live a life less convenient so that we can reduce our plastic consumption? Better for us, better for the world?
I love to cook. And I’m good at it too (well, it’s the feedback I got from people who have eaten my food 🙂 ). But cooking wasn’t something that I loved to do when I was young. In fact, I didn’t even cook my own meal until I was 28! Lucky me, I guess 🙂 .
However, the older I get, the more I love to cook. I’ve tried to figure out what it is that I love about cooking and also what my style of cooking is. Cooking can be a meditation for me where I can be present in the process with no thoughts about the past and the future. I eat mainly organic food. I don’t like using canned or processed food. I love vegetables, as freshest as possible but this is difficult as my primary source of vegetables is still coming from supermarkets. As I’ve been passionate and advocated for sustainability for many years, I try my best to be mindful about how I use resources such as water and electricity, but also how I can reduce my consumption of plastic. And here comes something that has bothered me for years:
As a consumer, I do love convenience, and I’m sure that you do too. Companies have been trying for years to find new ways to satisfy our need for convenience by making their products more accessible, and easy to use. But do we need these ready-to-use products:
– Fruits already cut in pieces and packed in plastic containers?
– Clean baby leaves salad or shredded carrot in plastic containers?
– Boiled and peeled eggs, also wrapped in plastic?
I can go on with the list, but I think you know what I’m trying to say. We use so much plastic in the packaging of these products so that we can consume them conveniently. It also contributes to food waste problems that we’re facing. As it only takes 1-3 days for fruits cutting in pieces to get rotten, and I’m sure that the supermarkets throw out lots of these products that cannot be sold.
When I travel to cities that are known to be expensive with high living standards, for example, London, the supermarkets provide many more options when it comes to ready-to-cook meals and vegetables. I live in Denmark, and I find that we use much unnecessary plastic packaging already, but this is still nothing compared to big supermarkets in London. I remember to have seen a counter of ready-to-cook meals that is twice as long as the one for vegetables. I’ve heard of stories about apartments that no longer have a full kitchen!
I get it. I do understand the need for many people in these cities are working long hours and therefore, won’t have much time to cook when they get home.
But have we ever thought about the costs of convenience?
As far as I can see, we’re paying the price in 3 areas:
1) Generation of more plastic wastes: If you’re unaware of our plastic waste situation at a global level, I suggest you read this article from Eco Warrior Princess to get yourself informed. It’s important that we become more conscious about our plastic consumption. Our choice of convenience contributes to more plastic waste because as long as we purchase these ready-to-use products, the companies will continue to make them!
2) Less quality time with our family: When we get home, those fast meals have become family standard where the quality of a family meal is reduced to something quick and convenient so that we can have time for something else. But what else is more important than quality time with our family that can happen over the course of a dinner, including the preparation of it?
3) More stress: Ready-to-use products cost more than raw products that are not washed, cut and packed. To afford this kind of convenience and also to be able to live in big cities, we need to work harder to earn more. Aren’t we in a vicious circle that never stops?
Unless we say stop!
And begin to change our lifestyle. I genuinely believe that tiny changes can make a difference.
1) Let’s stop buying salads or fruits that are already cut, cleaned and packaged. Buy, e.g., a whole iceberg so that we can have it for the rest of the week.
2) Let’s begin to grow our own herbs or salad. If you have kids, teach them how to take care of the herbs and let them learn about the food cycle (from nature to our plates). This is possible even if you’re living in a small apartment in New York or London.
3) Let’s prioritize more time for cooking, and to involve the family in the cooking process. Ask our partner and kids for help and use the time to talk about the day (don’t you want your kids to spend less time in front of a computer?!).
Change comes from ourselves. But we won’t change unless we acknowledge that we, and the future generations, do pay a high price for our convenience.
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