The land - what goes in must come out (or, the Earth can't eat nylon stockings!)

Everyday we use and buy things that will exist on this planet long after we have gone. Many of these things end up in land-fills, leaching chemicals into the earth, air, waters, and out to the seas, affecting all of the living things in those places. I am so often reminded of this fact. I am reminded when a pen runs out. There's currently no place for it but in the bin. I am reminded when I can't bring myself to throw away a pair of broken sunglasses because they are not yet recyclable.

I am reminded when I almost daily reach out to use a cotton tip, with a piece of plastic holding each dab of cotton wool, and I feel guilty.What happens to the plastic souvenir magnet or key-ring bought on holiday for mum? The sign laminated at work today? The juicer picked up from a cheap catalogue that will stop working in a year? The plastic cutlery from a wedding party? I could drive you nuts here, but my point is that it all adds up, and most of it will end up in the Earth. What would happen if almost 7 billion people bought magnets, sunglasses, and used cotton tips etc every day!? I recently read that if the whole of the world's population consumed as much as the USA we would need seven planets to sustain us!

I have a feeling that when we are serious about restoring the environment to a balanced state, these things that we have put into the earth will all have to be dug up. The 'mining' of landfills has begun in the US. Rising oil prices have meant that it now costs more to produce the plastic items that we have become so comfortable with, and what was once dumped as waste is now being seen as a potentially valuable commodity when recycled. What they are finding out in this mining process however is not pleasant. Apparently nylon stockings thrown away during the 1960s are coming out completely unbiodegraded! Picture the number of women all around the world who are wearing these wretched things right now! Don't they look great!? (I hope you get my sarcasm here!). But the truth is that most of these women are completely unaware of the true cost of their tights.

While on the subject of true cost, check out the best clip I have ever seen that sums up our present dominant cycle of consumption - 'The Story of Stuff':

I can imagine that a good test of whether or not the earth can easily break something down or not, is whether or not we can eat it! Picture yourself eating a pair of nylon stockings and it seems quite obvious that they are not something that our bodies could naturally dispose of! So why do we expect the earth to be able to perform this kind of miracle? (Out of sight, out of mind... Maybe it will just eventually go away?). A few months ago I received a delivery that was packaged with completely biodegradable corn nodules. Forget bubble-wrap, there things were edible! My boyfriend's mum once returned to her kitchen to find that her dog had gobbled up all of the packaging from one of her orders! Sure, dog's will eat all kinds of unmentionable things, but I have even nibbled these corn wonders myself! Not recommended for lunch, but as 100% corn as a cornflake! Now, I'm not going to advocate that we all become waste-eaters (my corn packaging went into the compost...), but this munch test sure highlights the difference between planet friendly products and those that are not!

We have largely abandoned the ways of nature: Do you see any other species who mine and alter the planets resources to create new substances that do not biodegrade!? I've never seen a badger laying concrete! Maybe instead of coming up with another 'cure' to a disease or problem we have inflicted upon ourselves by abandoning the ways of nature (as my mother would say, sending the ambulance to the bottom of the cliff), we could just return to some common sense practices (and not jump over the cliff in the first place!). One step beyond monitoring everything that we buy, is of course taking responsibility for any products that we sell. If you run a business or work for one, do you sell plastic products, or products in plastic packaging? Is the product or the packaging really necessary to the world? If you feel it is necessary, would it be possible to make it out of some other more earth friendly material? This question applies as much to me as you - My CDs are made of plastic. For now I can do my best by having a cardboard cover and encouraging MP3 downloads, but even that requires the use of computers and printing machines (both unbiodegradable). Our reflection and taking responsibility is the least we can do, and the minimum we are obliged to do for this Earth and her current and future inhabitants.

The work of Masuru Emoto, a Japanese scientist who discovered that thoughts affect the crystalline structure of water, gives me hope. He has been purifying lakes around Japan and the world with groups of people, their intentions being the primary miracle working agent, showing that we can to some degree clean up the planet with the power of our consciousness. I doubt however that in the near future we will through thought alone magically transmute the broken kettles, telephones and what-not to restore the waters and land to its original state. These are a massive part of the karma (and by this I simply mean consequences) we are creating for others to deal with. Do we really want our grandchildren working in jobs mining landfills, cleaning up our mess!?

Then let's be aware. Of everything we use. Everyday. And reduce our impact on the stocking force-fed Earth.