The real costs of what you use

Here’s a fresh look at our use of resources, using mustard packets as an example…

When someone picks up too many mustard packets to go with their sandwich, they are causing a whole chain of excess waste:

  1. It takes labor, fuel, fertilizer, water and wear on farm equipment to grow mustard plants.
  2. Labor costs, fuel, wear on trucks and roads, wear on trains and tracks, or wear on planes and airports all go into transporting the ingredients for mustard from their sources to the factory.
  3. There are labor costs, factory space, machines, electricity, water, plastic and much more that go into producing mustard packets.
  4. Labor costs, fuel and wear on trucks and roads all go into transporting mustard packets from the factory to the distributing warehouse.
  5. Labor costs, fuel and wear on trucks and roads all go into transporting mustard packets from the distributing warehouse to the restaurant.
  6. Fuel and wear on vehicles and roads go into transporting mustard packets from the restaurant to your home or office.

You are right in thinking that all of this has to happen whether someone uses one mustard packet or four. But if everyone grabbed just one mustard packet instead of four — or one paper towel instead of four — the whole system would slow down and there would be fewer trucks on the road, less pollution and so on.

Join me in pausing to think about ways we can use just what we need.

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