by Mallika Bhatia
On a recent business trip, my husband saw something that has always bothered us: criminal wastage of resources in the name of luxury.
He was staying in a five-star property and, as expected, there were fresh toiletries, a toothbrush, mouthwash, etc., placed on the bathroom slab. The next morning, while cleaning, the staff threw all of those unused and still packed things in the dustbin and replaced it with new stock of the exact same articles. It obviously wasn’t the first time we noticed it nor it is the first time that it drove us crazy. I fail to understand why someone would just throw away things that haven’t even been used?
“I can afford it” isn’t a reason enough.
Luxury hotels aren’t the only places where we practice guilt-free wastage. I am sure all of us have friends who order too much food at restaurants and find it beneath their dignity to get the leftovers packed up. Or find that putting the dinner leftovers in the fridge is way harder than simply dumping them in the dustbin. We may be the ones who are okay with our kids putting way too much food on their plates and throwing away half of it.
The gallons of uneaten ketchup that we throw away because it was too easy to get. It didn’t even cost money, we tell ourselves. Or the light that we refuse to switch off, even though we have no plans to be in that lit area. The clothes that we buy just because, or the tap we let run while we are still working up the lather on our teeth. We waste way too much without even realising that wasting precious resources is killing the Earth.
I have also observed that, for some strange reason, most of the English-language television serials or movies always show people walking away from the table with a plate full of unfinished food, always throwing away food. The focus here is on always dumping food, not putting their empty plates in the sink for washing. At a subconscious level this promotes wastage.
Some fun facts for you:
- Humans waste about 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year. That is more than 30% of food that it produced by using the Earth’s valuable and (believe it or not) limited resources.
- Running the tap while we brush our teeth wastes at least 15 litres of water per person.
- Can you guess how much water you would save by just cutting your shower short by 4 minutes? The answer is 115 litres, yes, 115 litres per shower.
- 25% of the energy you use in the household can be saved if we started unplugging the devices not in use, run dishwashers/washing machines only when they are full and turn off the lights in rooms that we aren’t in. 25% is a LOT to waste, don’t you think?
The questions that I still ask are: How does throwing away perfect, unused, hygienic things make us feel luxurious? How much more will our sense of entitlement drive us to waste, to dispose of, to not value and to blatantly misuse the resources? When will we realise that there is so much more to affordability than the money we spend on an item?
For example, each drop of ketchup we throw requires these following ingredients to make
- Tomatoes, that took 8-12 weeks to grow.
- Corn syrup, made from corn that takes about 60-100 days to be ready for harvest. The syrup is then made using additional resources.
- Onion powder, made out of onions that take about 100-175 days to grow. They are then dried and converted into a powder form.
- Vinegar, that takes about 4-6 weeks to make.
This is not an exhaustive list of ingredients. There are still other things that go into making that single drop of ketchup that we believe we can afford to throw away.
And we can’t just shrug our shoulders and say “Oh, but I don’t eat ketchup.” There are surely things we are guilty of wasting too.
The resources of this planet are limited, whether we realise it or not. We have already created such a huge climate shift by our sheer audacity. We have already harmed the water kingdom, and in most countries the air is very polluted. When will we stop? Will we ever?
If we stop to think for just one second before we describe something as a need, we may be able to help our planet. If nothing else scares us, then let’s just think about the world that we will be leaving behind for our children with all this wastage. They might have to wear masks and survive on plastic for food. Most of them will get cancer and other deadly diseases because of the constant toxins in the environment around them. The environment that we are passively destroying by creating false demands for things we describe as a necessary luxury.
Does it all seem overwhelming to you? Good, then take two steps at a time, one is too little to make a difference. Pledge to make a change. If we decide to make a change in each one of our households, offices and in our daily conduct, we may be still able to make a difference.
Remember what Mahatma Gandhi said, “The world had enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
Mallika Bhatia is Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy with more than 13 years of experience in this field. Yet her 3 year old seems to believe that Mamma is a snack maker who is also good at telling bed time stories. She is a writer, a blogger and a published author who had a regular dedicated column in 2 National Dailies in India. Though her daughter still strongly believes that Mamma’s work is sitting in cafes and staring into empty spaces. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype. For appointments & more information check out- www.mallikabhatia.com For regular doses of wisdom ‘Like’ & follow her on https://www.facebook.com/MallikaBhatiaJ/