It's time to un-train ourselves from our comforts
This isn't the most comfortable conversation to have, but it needs to be addressed.
Look around you. If you are at home, likely you have couches, tables, appliances. You wear clothes. If you aren't at home, you likely hop into your car or someone else's. Around you are so many buildings that provide you a place to stay out of the weather as well as a restroom, among many other things. There are roads and bridges, then there are convention centers and arenas... ... ...
Have you ever thought about the journey behind those things?
To my point; every time that you eat, you use a dish and every time you drink, you drink from a vessel of some sort. When you add up all of these vessels, containers and dishes, you literally get MOUNTAINS of them (here is some information on local recycling: Oregon Metro Recycling). Think for a quick second about just how much you eat and just how many containers you alone are responsible for using and throwing away. Now multiply that by the billions. Antoine Repessé did an incredible job of creating the visual of this.
Now, the purpose of this article is to put into perspective just how many layers of industry surround each decision you make. For sake of painting a very relevant picture we are going to focus on the "gig" economy's impact on your food decisions and supply. When you order from GrubHub, DoorDash, Caviar, or any of the other "gig" style delivery services you are initiating an unconventionally long chain of people working incredibly hard to make that happen.
Let's start from the very bottom line, the food; It must come from somewhere and with restaurants it often comes from many places. It starts at a farmer, cattleman, or fisherman who have literally built their livelihoods around their professions in order to feed us all and have innovated our food to taste better, stay fresher, and keep us nice and healthy.
To do this, we move into packaging. These farmers then have to get their product to us and in order to do that at such a large scale, they must package it. They then have to put in research, hire an industrial designer to design custom packaging and assign a budget that then provides a "single-use" package for the sole purpose of transportation.
Once it's gotten into a package, it then must be transported to wholesale locations in order for them to sell it to us. The wholesaler then markets out to the restaurants and again transport it to location. By the time it makes it to the restaurant, it has typically been transported twice already and packaged into a larger package for "bulk" transportation which is then heavily plastic wrapped after being stacked on a pallet and then unloaded again at the restaurant.
This restaurant then employs a full time staff to then unwrap and unpackage the food, prepare and cook the food, and then put the food right back into yet another container when it's warm and ready to be eaten and send it off with yet another transporter in order to get it to your door.
This restaurant then gives up 20 - 40% (depending on platform & driver fees) of profit of each meal prepared in order for someone to come pick it up and get it straight to your door. There then has to be drivers on standby in your area, there has to be people at a phone center to manage lost food, cold food, mis-prepared food, and simple misspelled addresses.
More importantly these service companies prey on struggling restaurants, so often the restaurant itself doesn't have enough staff to manage, process and prepare these meals in the "instant" time frame expected by the customers. The driver then has to get your exact address and awkwardly drop it off on your doorstep hoping for at least a minimal tip on the already insanely low cut of the profits they receive.
Fun, NOT-so-fun fact: According to research by WorkingWA.org, "Nearly a third of (gig economy) jobs actually pay less than $0 after accounting for these basic expenses. Just 11% of jobs pay more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour, after expenses, and only 2% meet the standard of $15 + expenses." - excerpt from their blog about DoorDash and its pay structure which well worth reading.
With each order there are hundreds if not thousands of miles of gas involved. Many, many different industries involved. Each meal is packaged in a single use container that we throw into the trash afterward and is often the second single use package the food is handled in. Each of which took massive amounts of energy through injection molding machines and paper mills, etc...
All of this and you only paid $10! And that even seemed expensive, plus why tip when it always shows up cold and missing the sauce. So annoying, am I right?
That's because we have been trained into a system of convenience that hides the fact that it perpetuates poverty wages across many industries along with an entirely unsustainable mountain of waste. Not that I have, or would even know how to, but If we were to realistically break down the true, honest and fair cost of a fully cooked and prepared meal being dropped off right on our doorstep, it would be at minimum a couple hundred dollars if not even closer to a thousand.
Now, I'm not saying that you should feel guilty or cut yourself off entirely from your conveniences, but I am trying to stoke an awareness of the domino effect of each, often subconscious decision you make throughout each day.
Maybe it's not optimal to be so busy and rushed in life that we feel we are entitled to having someone drop off prepared food at our own home when we have a perfectly functional kitchen inside the very home that it's dropped off at.
Maybe it's not worth creating so much trash consistently when there's a market put up by the farmer itself without any packaging or middle man that is right down the street.
Maybe the act of collecting wealth shouldn't overpower our morals to the point that we have blinders on to the devastation it's causing throughout the planet.
The effect that this new found "gig economy" has created is profoundly sad and I ask you today to consider the ripple effect of each meal you consume and how your role in this world matters. Every single decision.
If we all decide collectively to take small individual steps each day, we'd be well on our way to a better brighter future.
More than this though, we all have been trained to believe that we are powerless and that we are just one person and can't do anything to influence the decisions of massive corporations.
This truly could not be farther from the truth.
Just because we are all very susceptible to marketing ploys does not dismiss the very fact that we still have active choices throughout each day to personally do better. Just because it's cheaper to buy it from Amazon does not mean we don't have the choice to walk down to the local boutique and buy it for a little more in order to support our community at the same time we are answering our specific need.
I am writing this all out today in effort to create a dialogue about how much power we do have. Every single one of us. Every single day. We don't need to throw around judgement on these matters, we just need to step up and hop on the bike and ride down to the farmer's market to cook ourselves a meal at least once a week, carry your go cup with to the coffee shop, pass on the straw or carry our own, refuse to buy produce that is wrapped in plastic or however you can ease into making small daily contributions.
Thank you for opening your mind to this article and have a wonderful day.
Here is a direct resource to the Green Peace website and an article with calls to action discussing some of these small things we can do individually...