Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Joy of Littering
Yesterday, I unpacked my snack, took a satisfying bite, then tossed the wrapper into the ditch. An unexpected joy overcame me.
Growing up in Canada it was instilled in children like me that garbage belongs in the bin. The implication: "Garbage" is seperate from the natural world and belongs in a sealed bag and in a dump somewhere far far away. Normally, tossing litter into the ditch would bring me great existential pain-- so much so I never ever do it!
And thus, me x millions, Canada appears clean.
In developing countries litter is a major problem. Wrapers and bottles and plastic contaminate the landscape. Why? It is easy for me to judge-- how terribly ignorant of the folks to just toss their refuse away!
But that wasnt always so.
"Garbage" -- something seperate from nature-- is a concept that never existed here in the Philipines. Litterally. The very word in Tagalog 'basura' comes from the Spanish colonizers. Folks ate fresh food from the market or from their own land! Here in Sagada those traditions are incredibly still intact. They grow and raise almost all their own food through a self-sufficient community ecosystem that ranges from rice to all the fruits and vegetables youncan imagine. Add to that coffee, tea, tabacco, mushrooms, meat, and their own candy bars.
But, of course all the mass produced foods are making their way here just as everywhere else in the world. Sugar-laden, processed and refine 'food-like' products that through massive marketing somehow upsurp the locally grown incredibly bio-rich real food here. I watch with anguish as little kids much on 1 peso sugar candy, their early teeth already all decaying.
Of course most of the places and countries like this didn't do the massive education that Canada did in the 70s-80s to normalize the "disposal" of untold tons of plastic and aluminum packaging. It doesn't gomaway of course. We just bury it.
Here in Sagada they still sell some of the old indeginous snacks. My favorite is a rice and peanut bar cooked and packaged in a banana leaf! Brillant! The cost is just as great: 5 pesos! Maybe 10 cents in Canada! The bar is just as big as any chocolate bar-- but infinitely more satisfying.
ALL the ingredients come from within 50kms of the town.
And my 90% of my 10 cents doesn't to gonto some massive marketing, branding and celebrity endorsement capaign. On the contrary! It goes right to the hand of the women who baked it.
So let me make a daring suggestion: Who is more messed up! I the Canadian with the nice clean cities, but with a deeply entrenched mindset that garbage that will endure for centuries is normal and who's corporations are indoctrinating the rest ofthe world with the illusion that plastics, wrappers are normal necessities? Or, maybe the more sane are the folks and cultures that still haven't been able to wrap their minds around the existence of inorganic plastic and metal based packaging that won't biodegrade for centuries and that enables the mass transit of highly manufactfured "food" over thousands of kms and the emergence of massive corporations that focus more on the brand on the package than the healthyness, sustainability, and humaneness of food production and the food itself.
Yeah. Maybe. And it is only 5 pesos!