Sunday, March 31, 2024

Zero Waste Day is lovely, but what is sustainability was elsewhere?

Apparently yesterday was "International Zero Waste Day". I was an environmentalist even before the word. I grew up in a family where nothing was thrown away, everything was "make do and mend", we lived by "waste not, want not" without even knowing it existed. We "recycled" and "upcycled" even before any of this became a fad. And even at AUB, I used to speak of all such topics way before any of this reached media and hype.

The reason though I speak of all of this today is because apparently yesterday was "International Zero Waste Day". I saw a nice segment from Spinney's - here. But it shocked me. It pretends people waste food massively. First, it ignores the ongoing crisis since 2020 where poverty have soared to almost 80% of the population (extreme poverty at 60%) and these are not just "numbers". People look in garbage containers in broad daylight.

The other thing is assumes is that people all go to supermarkets to get their food. Do you know how I get my fruits and vegetables? There is a van that passes by weekly or bi-weekly and it stops all along the village and it sells its different products. His name is Zakaria if you must know. Do people care if an apple has a small dent on it or a lettuce is not hunky dory? No they do not. Once more, the idea that everyone flocks to giant supermarkets to get their fruits and vegetables is not applicable.

Do people waste food? Not as much as one thinks at this point. Just to be clear, no, the majority of the Lebanese population does not have a degree in circularity and environmental studies. But they do have - at least since the crisis broke and devaluation (now estimated at 128%) hit - is a sense that nothing is to to be wasted. 

I spoke extensively about the "Middle Class" (here, as an example) and how it ought to be reshaped and re-labeled and reformed. And there is no shame in that. But again, where I am - that's a village, which - yes - indicative of how people purchase or behave. As I said, one does not need a university degree or major environmental theories for "sustainability" to happen. It could be, simply, a way of life to many.