A lightening bolt moment is one that impacts you strongly enough to cause you to change for the long term. You can’t plan for them or brace for their impact. But when they hit they give you such clarity that you feel you will never be the same again. It can be as simple as a comment made by your kids about fairness, or an offhand remark from your husband, a passage in a book or an event. They can recharge, energize, and inspire you to reach farther then you ever have or thought you could.
I had a lightening bolt moment when I watched the video by Rob Greenfield about his bike trip across America eating only local, unpackaged and organic food. In one state, it was so difficult to find food that fit those three simple categories that he began dumpster diving. From there during his entire trip, seventy per cent of his food came from a dumpster, from what was thrown away.
At the end of the film, he gave some simple things each of us can do to slow down the degradation of the planet by our hands. Easy things that will minimize our impact on the earth in an attempt to make it better for our children and their children. He also gave a statistic that set off my lightening bolt moment.
Half of the food America produces ends up in dumpsters.
As a gardener I know how much time, energy, water and hard work goes into growing a head of lettuce, I know the patience needed to watch a tomato plant grow, blossom and produce a plump red fruit, and the resources needed to keep soil moist and plants fed. When I eat a meal of vegetables grown in my garden I savour each mouthful, waste little and enjoy its nutrient and flavour rich profile and taste. If I have to waste any part of it I don’t throw it out, I put it back into service as compost, adding more nutrients to the soil. It takes thought and planning.
Understanding the depth of work that goes into growing food, when I hear that half of what is produced is thrown out, it fills me with sadness over such an inefficient waste of human energy and earth resources.
It’s like finding out you work till June before you start seeing your own money, the rest goes to taxes and the government. Frustrating! Or discovering that only 50 per cent of a report you put together for work was thrown out before it was presented. Oh NO! Or only getting half of the medicine you need to get over an infection. Deadly!
And it isn’t just the food that is wasted, it’s the fossil fuels and resources used to transport that food. Most of the produce in our grocery stores comes from California, trucked or flown thousands of miles only to have half thrown out.
The waste is staggering. I think about how much longer our non renewable resources would last if we cut our waste down by even 25 per cent.
Now I know that my lightening bolt moment won’t necessarily be anyone else’s. Unfortunate though that seems in this instance, it makes sense. We are, after all, unique individuals, motivated and inspired by different things. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like my specialness! But that also means that I can’t rely on others to feel the same as me and can’t expect them to make the same commitments as I do. Everyone needs to do what they feel is right for the planet.
On Facebook someone commented about the use of trees in making books and that using an ereader instead would cut down on the loss of our forests. Another said she was a vegan so her choice in diet balanced out her purchase of books. For the one, reducing her consumption of wood based products was an important effort she could make to help the planet, for another her consumption of meat.
The take away for me is that everyone does what they feel they can and what they feel is relevant for them. No one can push another to do consistently, what they don’t feel strongly about. And I can only be responsible for my own actions, not someone else’s, so my actions have to count.
When my children’s children have to deal with a planet that has been ruled and ravaged by consumption, I want them to be able to say that mom or grandma was one of the people who tried to save it! I want them to know that I gave it my best effort. That I didn’t sit back in my hummer throwing vegetables out the window while driving to the mailbox and back.
I grow food, I compost, I buy local, but I also am seeing our household wasting food and I want to eliminate that. I want to show my respect for the farmers and gardeners that literally bend their backs to the labour of tending the earth and producing food for our survival. I want to honour their work and dedication.
My commitment for 2017 is to have zero food waste and a dramatic reduction in the amount of packaging used in the storage and purchase of our food. I’m not sure how, but I will let you know.
Feel free to share what your journey and lightening bolt moments.