Life in plastic, it’s fantastic…

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Is all this packaging really necessary?

I ask myself that every time I go shopping. It gets on my nerves. I buy groceries and then spend half a day separating waste. Waste that I neither asked for nor need. Plastic, paper, aluminum foil, the works. Dozens of euros’ worth of useless packaging which most of the time has more to do with bundling strategies for profit maximization than with any concern for hygiene or consumer protection. Think of all the water that goes to waste when I have to rinse every little recipient in order to be able to store it in my house for two weeks until the sanitation company picks them up. Pollution and waste.

Today, for instance, I bought exactly five slices of pork for our Sunday meal.  I made a point of buying them from the counter and not from the shelf, in order to avoid the huge plastic boxes that come with them (and because I lie to myself that the ones from the counter are fresh). But, what do you know?! The lady first wrapped them in special paper with plastic film on the inside, then placed them inside a plastic bag, and then put the whole contraption in another paper bag, slapping the price label on top of that. When I asked if all that packaging is really necessary, and wouldn’t a simple plastic bag have sufficed, she retorted something in Oberpfälzisch which I couldn’t understand, but she seemed upset by my remark. I am confused. Is this part of the German public obsession with hygiene? I beg to differ, because she manipulated the meat with her bare hands anyway (no gloves)…  (Besides, nobody seems to care when children run around with snot down to their chins or when the kindergartens are full of scarlet fever and streps.)

I couldn’t help thinking of the Boqueria, the central market in Barcelona. Meats, fresh fish, fruit and vegetables of all sorts lay spread out on tables in the open air and you could have your pick and you didn’t have to dig through 5 inches of plastic to finally get to your food at home.  I can’t stand what we stuff ourselves with most of the time.  A bunch of chemicals wrapped in all sorts of artificial materials, transported thousands of miles and tossed like refuse from one warehouse into the next, dropped on floors, stepped on. Tomatoes that have never seen real soil nor the light of day,  last year’s apples repackaged and sold as fresh from the orchard (real story!), expired meat products…

If you want to test your impact on the environment, fast for one week. You’d be surprised how much energy and how little non-degradable garbage you’ll have.  Give your liver a break and your spirit wings. We should all learn to go a little hungry once in a while. Humility and self-restraint free up the soul for what truly matters.

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