What do you Waste?

This is one of those topics that gets me energised. So at the outset I will own that my attitude comes from someone who was brought up in poverty where there was never really enough and because of that everything was used to the full. If a chicken were there for Sunday lunch it would still be being used on Monday and Tuesday. So that it eventually became soup and even after that what was left would be boiled down again as stock for next Sunday’s gravy. It was a world of make do and mend and nothing was ever allowed to go to waste.

What really lit my fire, and got me writing this, was reading that up to one third of all the food that we buy, in Britain, ends up in the bin. At the same time we have food banks because other people can’t afford to eat, not to mention the starving in other countries.

When I was a kid food was served like school dinners, you were given what the server decided you needed to eat. Because we were always hungry whatever was on the plate was eaten. As I got older and could provide food for myself and for other people it seemed reasonable to allow people to serve themselves. Using terrines people could now take what they would like to eat not what I thought that they should eat. So, why is it that, given the choice, people take more food than they want to eat and then leave the residue on their plate, now contaminated so that no one else can eat it?

This idea of waste gets me wondering as to what kind of mindset takes more than it needs and then puts it in the bin? Well, I guess it has to be people who were brought up with more than they need so that the idea of dumping and re-buying was acceptable and became the default habit. So if you are a waster, and you fill your bowl with more than you want or need and then throw what’s left away, what else do you waste?

Do you waste time?
I work with so many people who get to the point of retirement at age 60 or 65 in a state of shock, “where did that go?”, ‘what was that all about?’, ‘feels like yesterday that I was 18’, “I feel like I have just wasted my life”.

Doing things can be wasting time
Some people just can’t stop; they always have to be doing something. Under analysis the ‘something’ turns out to be meaningless other than it is just something to do. Ok, we all need to do things but when the doing is really avoiding facing our self or our emotions, or is driven by guilt embedded from a critical parent or grandparent it is actually a waste of time. When the need to be active is driven by avoidance it is termed OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Genuine business can make you happy
Genuine business is an activity that is aimed at a goal, not avoidance. The difference between this and OCD is that in OCD once one task is completed there is no sense of achievement or satisfaction and the drive is ‘what must I do next’. In genuine business there is satisfaction and achievement and an accompanying sense of well-being and happiness that goes with it.

Chilling is not always being
‘Being’ is to be really present in the moment, it is to be ‘Mindful’. Meditation may seem like doing nothing. However, meditation is an active process of intensely ‘being’. The same, or similar effect can be achieved through yoga, running, or any exercise, often repetitive, that requires the concentration of ‘being’. TV, on the other hand can be hard work.

Couch potatoes
Most people in the western world watch around four hours of TV everyday. Though to some this may be seen as relaxation or chilling it is actually hard on your system. There does seem to be a correlation between those that watch too much TV and the same physical state seen in people who are so stressed that they are heading for strokes and heart attacks, and of course there is increased weight, diabetes and other related illnesses.

I could go on all-day, you will have guessed I have just climbed astride a hobby horse of mine, so think of it like this, when you fail to act mindfully in the moment you can waste your:

  • Time
  • Health/happiness
  • Friends/family/relationships/love
  • Education/fun/interests/new experiences
  • Life potential and self fulfilment
  • Money/resources
  • Mind/intelligence
  • Intuition/empathy/understanding
  • Creative imagination/problem solving/genius
  • Life

And if I ever meet the person who created the sell by/use by notifications on foods I will have a few words to say to them. Evolution gave us a nose so that we could tell what was good to eat and was not and a brain to know the difference. The fact that we put a third of all the food we buy in the bin is an outrage and a crime against all the starving in the world.

Hey ho, be happy

Take care
Sean x

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