I’ve written about how every single item in every cart I saw in a trip to a supermarket was packaged, mostly in plastic. I suspect the cardboard was plastic coated. People drink a lot of bottled water too. Most of that stuff takes five hundred, maybe a thousand years to break down.
Consider when the absolute basics of life require polluting. Either we change our culture and stop accepting it or consider this calculation.
Let’s figure out what number, say in grams, would work for packaging for each meal.
We have to multiply that number by eight billion, since everyone has to eat. It would be nice to say the poorest don’t get packaged food, but corporations dump it on them as one of their ways to extract value instead of fresh. But, okay, let’s say we multiply it by four billion and hope some people eat fresh.
Now multiply it by three for meals per day. Some don’t eat three meals a day, but many snack which means more meals for them, so it’s probably more then three on average globally.
Now multiply it by 365 for the year. We should add to the billion number since the population keeps increasing, though not for long.
We’re already multiplying by over a trillion, but we’re still going. Now multiply that number by 1,000, for how long it takes the stuff to break down, if it ever does. Even if we figure it breaks down faster, say 500 years: 4 billion times 3 times 365 * 500 comes out to 2.19 quadrillion.
What number times 2.19 quadrillion makes a sustainable amount of single-use waste? How can you not conclude that the only number that works is zero?
Recall that thousands of years ago, we had cities with over one million people. They got all they needed to live into the cities without plastic and all the waste out. Those cities lasted longer than our entire culture so far since the Industrial Revolution.
Nothing for human life and flourishing requires pollution. Our culture requires pollution, but our culture is lowering Earth’s ability to sustain life. I’ll take human flourishing and fresh produce over lowering Earth’s ability to sustain life and doof any day.
Why not try avoiding packaged food for a week and seeing what happens?
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