A regular column on Treading Lightly Upon The Earth

It’s easy to see why landfill sites are filling up, the ozone layer is thinning and our supplies of fuel are running out when we separate every item of our own household and outdoor rubbish into different categories.

Whether it’s in the yard or in the home, there’s plastic, glass, metal, paper, food waste, and much else besides, and if the items have been manufactured, they will have needed fossil fuels to power the machinery to make and deliver them.

People living in cities are somehow remote from the hard facts because the garbage truck arrives on its appointed day and that’s the end of the problem as far as they are concerned.

But those of us living closer to the land cannot help but be aware of everything that has to be disposed of, from a broken implement to a thread of non-biodegradable dental floss.

Whether it’s a bar of soap in its printed cardboard box, to a plastic tub of rat poison, so much seems to be packaged with scant regard for our precious environment.

Hands up to anyone who hasn’t been tempted by attractive packaging. In the supermarket, there is shelf after shelf of over-packaged but attractive products which we certainly don’t need, but which we like to have.

And why not? After all, most of us are still leading a consumer lifestyle and thousands of jobs depend on people’s taste for life’s non-essentials.

However, living in the country as we are, we are conscious of the importance of trying to do something about it. After all, we are less likely to have a weekly garbage collection and may, on practical grounds alone, have to make sure that we are only throwing out the absolute minimum.

We become used to re-using things, whether it’s putting hedge trimmings, cardboard, and newspapers in the shredder to provide mulch for the veggie patch to help retain moisture, or making worn-out shirts into cleaning rags or drying cloths for wet dogs. Those muddy lengths of indestructible baler string have to be gathered until another use can be found for them.

Taking aluminum foil, cans, and glass to the recycling centre when we next go shopping has become second nature, but sometimes it’s worth stopping a moment and asking ourselves whether we really needed some of those things in the first place. When shopping, we can vote with our hard-earned cash and only buy those products with minimal packaging, that can be refilled, or which demonstrate the manufacturers’ commitment to the environment.

We can’t take on the responsibilities of the whole world by reforming our ways, but we can at least make a start.