When I went to my grandparents during school holidays I noticed how they practised radical sufficiency. My grandmother and grandfather had lived through the depression years and my grandfather had fought in the Second World War and spent two years in a German prisoner of war camp.
My grandmother used to wash plastic bags, dry them and place them neatly folded in a cupboard for reuse. She reused many other items. Often my grandfather would repurpose waste. This was in the early 1970s.
I should have learned more from this experience than I have over the years. But in recent times I have tried to buy only what I need and look at a R100 note twice before I spend it. Yet I have bought books, magazines and art materials. Now I have too much and have to declutter using the KonMari Method™
Company entities and institutions are the same. Now that they don’t use ceramic cups In the tea and coffee areas, they are using tons of paper cups. Yes, it’s hygienic but the cost to the environment is far bigger than simply washing those cups and mugs.
There are many examples of where companies can cut back but are stuck in the mindset of doing the same old things over and over again. The paperless office was supposed to be an achievable goal but paper still abounds. New printers and photostat machines and paper filing systems are still in place.
What about when company employees go to an event and they all go there in their own cars? What a waste of precious energy. Then there are the building owners who keep their lights on throughout the night . Recently I was shocked to see many of the office buildings in Sandton with their lights on at night. Surely they are aware of energy efficiency and electrical energy shortages in the country?
It’s little use to just separate your waste at home. What’s more important is to think of radical sufficiency and cut down on your waste by reducing your consumption. We need to recognise the impact of our consumption on the planet.
Companies chase their ISO 14001 international standard for environmental management systems without radically addressing their consumption patterns. Meeting compliance is not good enough. System change is required to reduce the impact on the planet, the environment, health and communities.
My grandparents only bought what they needed, consumed only what they needed and made sure that they could recycle and reuse everything they could. In those days the younger generation thought they were being over thrifty. But today their behaviour is seen as exemplary radical sufficiency.