In general we compartmentalise our actions in discrete unrelated pods. The way we manage our waste is seen as totally distinct from the water we drink.
But we are now seeing that this type of thinking is flawed and has massive negative consequences. When the major skin care brands introduced micro plastic beads as ex foliating agents in their formulations they didn’t (at least we hope they didn’t) think about what would happen to these beads when they went into the water system.
(Image source: https://environmentmassachusetts.org/sites/environment/files/styles/large/public/Microbeads3cartoon.jpg?itok=nTU2r4SB).
Today we know that those micro-beads have contaminated the food system and have even been found in filtered treated water!
Another example, the use of pesticides in agriculture is devastating bird populations in France.
For some of us, this is obvious: simply not having cats in your house leads to a boost in bird and lizard populations (cat lovers, this is a truth and we really do like other people’s cats).
Johannesburg (the “Witwatersrand”) is, via the Crocodile River, a watershed for the Limpopo River. As we chuck and pollute our streams up here, animals and people down there suffer the consequences. Imagine the impact if more of us polluted less, used less and threw away less.
This ‘rant’ is not about shouting at people, institutions or even governments. It’s really about trying to encourage a “think before do” approach to our actions. To really think about what we buy and how we behave impacts on everything around us (and life downstream from where we live).
It's really about thinking about the whole system (and not just that little space which we occupy). Having 'empathy' for the whole system in which we live.