Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taking The Piss For Mental Acuity: A Sustainability Assignment

I snark at you because you can take it.

So, I started a 'Tertiary Preparation Course' (aka: i can haz university degreez plz) at TAFE two-and-a-half weeks ago. For those of you needing an international analogy, please substitute 'TAFE' for local-college-but-non-university-institution of your choice.

Having already completed the 'top level' of high school academic certification requirements, I am undertaking this course in order to brush up on science and mathematics skills seldom used during the last decade of my (illustrious?) English-based journalistic / PR career.

That being said, I am perhaps taking the piss out of other parts of the syllabus. But I'll leave you to judge.

Tonight I completed a 250-500 word assessment on the subject of 'Sustainability'. I put this off to the last moment because, after having to read through the assessment requirements (out loud in class, slow enough for some to follow with fingers), I decided the subject was too over-hyped to be enjoyed and certainly too involved to be responsibly broached via such a limited word count.

Really though, I am a wanker, and embrace my arrogance while still completing a task, goddammit.

So, here it is.

Please, taste my tongue in cheek.

Confessions of a Rampant Consumer.

I understand that ‘sustainability’ has become a catchphrase of today’s mainstream (and scientific) literature. I understand why that is – the conscientious use of our planet and its resources will ensure the survival of future generations, and the continuance of the human race is a biological imperative for us all.

But I am a rampant consumer.

The thing about sustainability is, that the ‘essential needs of an individual must not be compromised to preserve the wider conscientiousness of the human race’.

What does this mean for the unabashed swallower of fossil fuels and supporter of the comforts therein?


In order to maintain my sanity, I drive my car. 

Sometimes this means a journey locally; sometimes three-and-a-half hours to Melbourne. I would argue that the saving on my mental equilibrium allows me to be an effective member of society; in turn, this saves a large percentage of societal and economical resources I would otherwise consume in the form of therapeutic services (psychotherapy and counselling), as well as additional stipends from government welfare for sickness benefits.

I use, on my journeys, ethanol-additive fuels. An e10, or 10% ethanol additive petrol – gives me a higher octane and lower CO2 emission-rating than regular unleaded fuels, and thus makes my car more environmentally – and economically – friendly than pre-1998, regular unleaded engines. As the car I now drive is a 2002-badge, 2.1L Toyota Corolla, this is also the first car I have ever driven that I can feel environmentally smug about, in a Greeny, ‘adverse-to-fossil-fuels’ kind of a way.

Yay me.

But realistically, I would drive to the toilet if it was possible.

I understand the effects of limited fossil fuel consumption. I understand that locally grown and transported foods, items and fuels are beneficial to the environment in their reduction of carbon emissions and waste products. It takes less to make less, and that’s a good thing. I understand the importance of limiting my carbon footprint however and wherever possible.


Major supermarket franchises such as Coles and Woolworths stock ‘home brand’ products at a significantly reduced price to my pocket, if not the planet. I do not eat fruits out of season – yay me – but the regional obscurity of Wagga means that I have no guilt buying state or-internationally imported goods, including alcohol (specifically wine), clothing and – obviously – cars. And the fossil fuels expended importing these goods do not keep me up nights, because my belly is full and my wallet expenditure is reasonably easily recouped.

So, I am a rampant expender, and a rampant consumer. And until corporations and government drive me to be otherwise, I will remain so unabashedly, and with ease.

The thing about sustainability is, that it cannot compromise the needs of an individual.

And right now, I need my car.

Note: Don’t think that I’m blindly sceptical – it’s just that I realise every drop of information must be taken with a grain of sand. Although, not necessarily in your engine.

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