Everybody talks. About sustainability. The climate. The enormous threat a climate catastrophe means. The plastic in the ocean. Radio-activity all over the place. They all also preach how there will soon be a shortage of water.

But not much happens. On the contrary!

Water is being wasted.

And we are talking huge quantities. Although we all know it will soon be a very precious commodity. People sprinkle their gardens, they do not hesitate to use the water hose freely in order to get the dirt off the garage or house entryway.

We get high-quality water out of our tabs. It is absolutely drinkable and healthy. But we only drink it out of bottles. Mostly plastic bottles. Mind you, glass bottles are not much better, either. Extremely small amounts of water are transported hundreds of kilometres in heavy glass containers. They often go great distances through several countries. Although H2O is just H2O.

Plastic is produced without any restraint

We also know that plastic waste is one of the biggest threats to our environment. But we even drink water out of plastic bottles that were produced for being used just once. In order to ease our conscience, we then call those bottles returnable bottles. Although the only benefit of the refundability is that these bottles will not end up in our environment or have to be collected by bottle collectors.

But the sweet and sticky (and extremely cheap) chemical sherbet comes from the discount shop in a plastic bottle. Yoghurt, milk and artificial beverages, often in extremely small packages, also come “wrapped in plastic”.

The same is true for most edibles and other products. We accept a “package overkill” just in order to manage the logistics as cheaply as possible. And since that is not enough either, we also use (waste) unbelievable quantities of plastic bags. Allegedly, every European citizen uses an average of 500 per year.

Convenience without end

In the pompous villa, the TV set is blaring in the morning, even though the living room is empty. The inhabitants seem to be out of the house quite often – but the circulating pump runs regardless, sending warm water through the pipes so you always have warm water coming out of all taps and showers in the house immediately.

You take showers at least twice a day. The outside walls of the white villa are illuminated day and night by LED. After all, they have to optically enhance the modern design. The lights are turned on in many rooms, even though you clearly can only sit in one room at a time. Basically, we like switching on lights, but we do not fancy switching them off.

Going places – mostly alone – always happens by car. As soon as a route is longer than the car, you take the car. For reasons of safety and prestige, we always carry between one and two tons of tin – in order to transport our 60 – 95 kilograms. Although it is basically not at all practical. But so what. The ever so important production principle Kaizen – particularly used for economizing on human labour – does not play a role in private life.

Every few years, we treat ourselves to a new monster mobile. It has to be even stronger and bigger than the last one. More chromium, more functionality. Aggressive light, you could not care less about pedestrians. Each year, the design of the monster boxes shows more clearly how arrogant, ignorant and ego-centrical the car drivers want their car adventure.

We only can affford this because we are so well off – after all, we are so very hard-working!
Unfortunately, this is not at all true! Looking at the sum total – collectively and often also privately – we have to run into debt considerably in order to maintain this life style. But we belong the the minority of persons on this planet who, incidentally, get credit. So who are the ones giving us credit?

Consequently, we can use all our energy to solve our “luxury problems“. How to achieve self-fulfillment? How to amuse ourselves tonight? How to further promote and guarantee our continued wealth?

Each day, we have to make important decisions: should we eat Italian, Indian, or maybe Bavarian after all? Should we go to the pub, or maybe to the fitness studio? To the opera house or the cinema?

Well, this may be as it is. But it annoys me if this is how we live and then at the same time talk sustainability. And persistently, too (once in a while, I even get annoyed with myself).

What do I do about it?

I try to change my life style in small steps. I no longer drink water or lemonade that comes in plastic bottles from the discount shop. I try to avoid going places by car wherever possible. I no longer buy useless things and I no longer waste energy. I try not to fall victim to all the many snares laid out by our consumption and provisioning world. I try to enjoy the small things in life that nature provides us with. Step by step, I turn into a more humble person, concentrating on my roots. To be sure, it is not easy, but I manage better and better.

And once in a while, I write this sort of article.

(Translated by EG)

1 Kommentar zu “What Annoys Me – … #5 People Who Keep Talking About Sustainability, Yet Do Nothing.”

  1. Chris Wood (Saturday July 23rd, 2011)

    I am a follower of Roland. Unless it is raining hard, I cycle daily 15 km instead of driving. I drink tap water. My daughters are slightly “green”, although I have not managed to convince them properly. In other ways, I try to live economically. This eases my conscience slightly regarding the people of the world who live in poverty, while we waste resources. Despite sustained pricks of conscience, I do little for the poor. But I pay my taxes and hope that Germany will do something for the poor of the world.
    In one way I am greener than Roland; I have caused less population growth.
    I can answer Roland’s question about where we borrow money from. Mostly Germans and Germany borrow money from banks and Germans. This is still so, although things have become rather more international in recent decades. (For instance German bank-lending to the Greek state is only about 5€ per German head). The poor and the state borrow from the rich. The young borrow from the old. The very poor hardly borrow because they cannot offer security.
    For instance IFAG, (effectively its shareholders), has money deposited at (lent to) the bank, ready for hard times. The banks lend out much more money than they borrow, (perhaps a factor 10). They operate on the principle that their creditors will not all demand their money at once. They give promises of payment, which are regarded by all as “real” money. They offer higher interest rates to those who commit their loans longer. If the banks all crashed, all the creditors would lose their money, while the borrowers would not (could not) pay back their loans. To extreme socialists, this may seem OK, spreading wealth more equally. But it would destroy the (capitalist) system, undermining the way we live, and producing extreme poverty. Only a few people with guns would profit, and most people would starve.
    It may be objected that most people survived the Russian revolution. But things have progressed since then. Of course, if a complete bank crash could be limited to one country, things would not be so bad, but this seems impossible.
    It used to be rather unfair that the rich got richer by lending money. But that hardly happens now. The interest and dividends are usually consumed by inflation and taxes. Moderate wealth gives a sense of security, (the money is there when needed), but it hardly permits sustained luxury and idleness over generations.
    (I invite corrections).

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