The wastefulness in the US is still an adjustment. I try not to judge too harshly, knowing this is how Americans have been brought up to be – we honestly know no other way to be – and yet it does get to me sometimes. And fellow Christians – I’m sorry, we are failing this “stewardship” thing.
Take plastic bags for an example. I bring my own bags because its a carryover habit from living in China, and in general I find them stronger (no breaking and spilling!) with larger capacity. In some countries in Asia you can’t even buy plastic bags (in China and Japan you could buy them, but I’m cheapskate).
But what really got me was in Bali, when while surfing pieces of bags kept sticking to my arms and legs and the surf board. It’s disgusting. And it’s unbelievable how many of those are in the oceans.
Free plastic bags aren’t actually free either. They end up as an added cost in overhead that fluctuates with the oil prices. The energy to make the bags and the bags themselves are made from petroleum. So the bags go up and down (as does plastic) with oil prices. I would rather, like in China, pay for the bag upfront, so it is a felt cost rather than having the delusion that it is free. When something hits our wallets, we tend to take it more seriously.
It is slightly troubling to hear people talk about the waste as if it’s an entitlement. Because we have space and money, we might as well waste. After all why not?
Something about this troubles me. Because while that might be true, don’t we have any obligations to other people in this? If our plastic bags are harming common waters – in Japan, in Mexico etc. then shouldn’t we address the issue? Instead, because we can afford to clean up our own shores, we seem to just ignore it, or worse, pretend it doesn’t exist.
So I’m a bit confused. I hear this rhetoric from Pastors, from friends, from coworkers here in the US. Mostly from those who claim to be “conservatives” which I think is odd – isn’t the root of “conservatism” “conserve?” I would think conservatives would be interested in conserving energy, minimizing waste etc. But they have been the ones arguing the hardest against it. Weird.
At what point do our rights end when they infringe on someone else’s? Does money just always rule?
I’m beginning to think that really is the only thing anyone really cares about. I suppose that’s a cynical take on US government, but I wonder honestly – are we about anything else besides money?