Is that really sustainable?

A random thought more than anything else – I’ve been pondering about sustainable behaviour and the like lately (unrelated to anything else, just pondering).

The question comes about when you look at the use of oil, for example in motoring, is that activity really sustainable? What happens when the oil dries up?

But the same question can be related to anything really.

A business, choosing to cover losses with debt – is that really sustainable? Obviously it isn’t, but a band aid, assuming future growth on the horizon might help them ‘sustain’ their current operation – but it’s not sustainable, eventually the debt needs to be repaid, and if there is no growth related to that debt – it will result in the business selling off / entering bankruptcy.

The same question comes to mind in other areas too, if we were to look at real estate pricing, as examples, increases are followed by decreases, as the market will only pay so much.

Just today I was thinking how sustainable is the current ‘currency’ we use to pay, it’s related to inflation – there’s only so much we can ‘inflate’ before something will go pop. Real Estate itself is a bit of a tricky choice. A loaf of bread likewise somewhat tricky. They all find themselves tied into supply and demand, and other forces.

I’m trying to point out here, pretty poorly, that our finance system, can only rise in value so much – we can’t keep printing money. Our governments can only go so far with so much debt, before their creditors will call on them to make payment.

If, for example, the value of our dollar suffered, we could see creditors asking us for money, we don’t have – it’s not likely to happen though.

The  band-aid solutions to real issues will not dissolve the actual problem, it will merely move it, cover it, hide it, subtract attention from the real problem, leaving it there to grow into a bigger problem if unaddressed.

I then considered another issue, that of food –  I remember reading an article at some point recently, it showed dollar figures of what we pay for food ‘thrown out’ to what we ‘donate in money’ to third world countries.

And I was amazed to see, we donate in the Millions, yet throw out in the Billions. And the ‘throw out’ isn’t half eaten food, it’s best quoted here, on a website created by our local council:

A 2005 paper by The Australia Institute (Wasteful Consumption in Australia) found that Australians waste over 10.5 billion dollars annually on goods and services that are “never or hardly ever used”. The majority of this is food purchased and thrown out (over 5 billion dollars per annum).

The figures are incredible – 5 billion in food thrown out, yet just millions in donations for food to those who need it most. If I were one of those receiving the ‘millions’ in donations, I’d want to come over and start taking that food and using it.

In fact, it’d be worth setting up a food safe bin just for that specific purpose, collecting all of that, and sending that on – after all, there’s apparently billions of dollars of food in that! Amazing how people manage to give more to a tip, then they do to fellow human beings.

This is highlighted by the somewhat one dimensional thinking taken, when you go shopping, you might do so with a shopping list, you might not – you’ll buy what you think you’ll eat, and without any care for the ‘source’ of that item, consumption then becomes addictive.

The other end of the purchase is no different, a wheelie bin happily consumes that of which you purchased with little consideration as to ‘source’ and takes that away to a ‘destination’.

The consumer here sees nothing else, just that they wanted milk, the milk sat there unused (they changed their mind perhaps), 1 week later, it’s in the wheelie bin, with no care as to where it goes.

The origin of the milk is complex, despite being simple.  A cow is born, the cow is fed grass from grazing land cleared of trees for that specific purpose. A farmer oversees their growth into a milking cow, where they are then rounded up (using a tractor), and milked (not using hands, electric pumps), the milk then processed, and chilled useful content.

The chilled milk is then placed into plastic containers (again, created for the only purpose of carrying chilled milk), and trucked in a refrigerated truck to shopping centres or storage facilities.

The container containing milk is chilled in the shopping centre, or storage facility, where it may (or may not) then be purchased, and transported to the end location, where it is again, refrigerated (or thrown out as expired milk).

Then, it may or may not be used.

I doubt many look past the bottle of milk is anything more or less than just a bottle of milk, so the full impact, full resource usage to get that milk bottle is ignored.

This I don’t believe is sustainable, because, cows are being bred faster than they should be, to fulfill the farmers craving for profit, from the milk. As above, a bubble goes pop.

Land is cleared for the only purpose, to feed those extra cows. Land which may eventually be desired for accommodating purposes for those who do not have accommodation. As above, a bubble goes pop.

The extra trucking requirements for that extra milk causes oil consumption to increase. Oil is not a limitless resource. A bubble goes pop.

The extra coal (in the case of coal power) to keep that milk refrigerated (for it’s eventual purchase or ‘binning’), again – A bubble goes pop.

The milk container is not recycled? Land fill. A bubble goes pop.

So, we waste so much, we consider so little (as above, data shows billions of dollars thrown to the tip, just millions to fellow humans), this isn’t something that can easily be sustained – not in my view anyway.

The solution? I’m not yet clear on.

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