Sunday, January 10, 2010

Concerning 'Convenience'

I've raved in a previous post about the book No Impact Man (Colin Beavan) and the blog of the same name. When I enthuse to friends and family about same I tend to be met with a bit of a dubious response. I think people get the impression that by attempting to live with no impact, Colin Beavan was trying to spread the message we should all be living that way. This isn't the message I got. I think the point was to strip back the nonessential aspects of life - the trimmings, if you will - in order to actually examine what is necessary, and whether it makes us happy, and then to put things back in a mindful fashion, and not just because its 'the way we do things'.

This brings me round to today's musing....It seems to me that we often defend some environmentally unconscionable practices by saying "its convenient", when in fact it probably isn't actually all that more convenient than a more sustainable alternative - its just habit. Maybe it just takes a little bit of mindfulness to break that habit and then the new, more sustainable practice will become the new 'default mode'.

Take, for example, taking canvas bags to the supermarket. I think (hope) most of us try to do this these days at least most of the time, but there was a day when it was a bit unusual, and many people defended their use of plastic bags as more 'convenient'. But is it really that hard to stick a handful of canvas bags in the car before going to the shops? Probably not. I think the real problem was that we just used to forget all the time. Now we don't, because its a habit.

I often come across this issue when people question my use of public transport. It seems to be assumed that its such a burden to me, especially with a baby in tow. Its really not, because I'm used to it. Plus I don't have to worry about parking, petrol, traffic....and The Booba loves it (so many new faces to stickybeak at!). I was on the bus last week when I saw a heavily pregnant woman with not two, not three, not four, but FIVE other kids. Travelling in this way would be my idea of a nightmare, but from the look of the woman and children, who were all being remarkably well behaved by the way, it was clearly an everyday occurrence and really nothing to make a fuss about. Probably just as well as they'd need to own some sort of bus otherwise!

So what 'convenient' habits am I going to try to be more mindful of? Well, I'm going to start with paper napkins and tissues. For a household that carefully saves every potential bit of scrap paper, we tend to think nothing of mindlessly accepting the great wad of paper napkins provided everytime we get takeaway, for instance. Is it really that much less convenient to just use a cloth napkin at home? Well, no...especially now that I've started to sew some more. So the other night when I went to pick up our kebabs, for the first time I knocked back the napkins. Hopefully this'll soon be a habit for us.

1 comment:

  1. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to cycle to work. I thought that having to pack my work clothes and shower when I got there would be inconvenient. But after trying it for two days, I couldn't possibly go back to trains. It turns out that a refreshing shower at work is actually a perk, and regaining the free time I used to devote to exercise is more convenient than anything!