On the daily

Leaf blowers

The bane of my life.

A product that perfectly describes where we are.

Leaf blowers: machines that blow leaves “away” from my garden presumably into yours and in doing so contributes a whole bunch of CO2 into the atmosphere not to mention the noise.

The opposite approach – collecting leaves – is of course how the planet actually works. There is no “away” and the leaves are the perfect feedstock for compost which in turn grows stuff.

One day we will learn. Or not…it’s kind of up to us.

On the daily

"Succession" on HBO.

A terrifyingly accurate depiction of what life must be like in Chez Murdoch. The bastardry, back-stabbing, infidelity and power games are probably what it takes to run News Corp.

The timing is exquisite as one Murdoch child has the balls to challenge the family’s position on climate change. Who knows how this will turn out.

On the daily

Sugar & plastic…killing us softly

Both Cheap.

Both Ubiquitous.

Both Convenient.

Both killing us and our home softly from the outside in and the inside out.

(And if you think I meant sugar was killing us internally and plastic externally, new research shows we ingest huge amounts of plastic. 90% of fish in the Brantas river in Surabaya, Indonesia have plastic in them. And not just any plastic. Nappy plastic. And then yes, we eat the fish and lo and behold, we have plastic in us.)

And Big Sugar and Big Oil wouldn’t have it any other way.

I was reminded of that this morning reading this year’s Australian Of The Year’s mission to put a tax on sugary drinks to tackle diabetes.

Cue the outrage from Big Sugar and the Pollies they bought at the last election.

Imagine a tax on plastic? The EU have announced something close, a strict Extended Producer Responsibility policy and China is soon to follow. That might have some effect although in our category it just prompted a sidestep move to recycle plastic nappies. Or more accurately delayed landfill.

History shows that doesn’t end well. We shall see.

On the daily

On Australia Day / Invasion Day Eve

In the run up to Australia’s national day and with increasing calls to either move the date or change the name to recognise what the moment represents to indigenous Australians, Bruce Pascoe, a Bunurong man presents compelling new evidence about the sophistication of pre-contact Aborigines.

Far from being primitive hunter / gatherers as suggested by Colonialists and every history book ever written, the original inhabitants of this land had complex systems to store water and grains for future consumption, harvest tubers, bake bread and build homes. Their farming techniques ensured soil health for the ages and their land management specifically around mitigating the risk of fire was highly effective. This has been highlighted of late as Australia endures its worst bushfire season in history.

Time will tell if there is any adjustment in the current fire mitigation approach.

On the daily

The myth of recycling

I get the whole “the sole purpose of business is to serve our customers” thing. This is Coke’s rationale announced at Davos for continuing to use plastic bottles and committing to try and recycle lots of them. Coke’s customers love buying their product in plastic bottles.

But at some point isn’t it the responsibility of a company to offer something else if the much-loved current solution is destroying the planet (and our health?) Is that too much to ask?

Coke probably believes recycling really is the answer but as China reminded us last year, recycling is a myth. Here in Australia despite China no longer accepting the world’s “recyclables”, we mindlessly, diligently separate our paper and plastic only to see it sit in 40′ containers in storage somewhere. The embodied energy in the recycling process is huge, contamination is ever-present and some waste streams have no value. The process is more accurately “downcycling” where the value of the resulting material is of a lesser value. And then what? Do we downcycle this stuff again? No, it is landfilled. So recycling is more accuratley “delayed, expensive landfilling” but it makes us feel really good.

A 1970 PSA showing a crying Indian.
My favourite line: “People start pollution. People can stop pollution”. No. manufacturers start pollution and consumers are left holding the bag.

Recycling was started 70 years ago in the US via “Keep America Beautiful”, a nonprofit founded (terrifingly) by Coca-Cola, Phillip-Morris and Anheuser-Busch with the brilliant goal to push the responsibility of managing the waste their products make on to the consumer. Perfect. In the nappy category where we play, 250,000,000 plastic nappies are made every day. A baby will use 5 per day. So who has to deal with all that waste? Not the company making it. It falls on consumers, local Governments and waste operators to clean up after these multinationals.

The true answer to the problem, and it is really hard (but we are a smart species) is to stop making stuff out of plastic unnecessarily in the first place. Many may not know that plastic is a derivative of oil. And the more fossil fuels we keep in the ground the more likely we are to get out of here alive. That means investments in materials innovation and yes, maybe forcing consumer behaviour to change (God forbid!).