My mum was in South Korea as a missionary in 1955 (only a couple of years after the Korean War) and lived in Busan. She lived with four or five other women and sometimes one of them would go to Seoul about 450 km away, which (in those days) was a day’s travel. Buying lunch on the train wasn’t an option so they normally took a sandwich wrapped in grease proof paper. On one trip to Seoul, one of Mum’s colleagues stayed with a North American family and when they made her lunch for the trip home, they used plastic wrap (or cling wrap). Mum and her friends had never seen it before, and thought it was fantastic. They certainly made the most of this great new invention. That one piece of cling wrap travelled back and forward between Busan and Seoul dozens of times, being shared by everyone in the house. After each use, this lone piece of cling wrap was wiped clean and put away in their shared kitchen.
How things have changed. How many of us would consider cleaning cling wrap or plastic bags? What a pain! How annoying! We now take plastic so much for granted that we see it as a totally disposable product. Yet this stuff that was seen as so amazing only a generation or two ago is produced using a very limited, non-renewable resource, namely oil. For some reason we think it is acceptable to use plastic cutlery, plates and bags once and then throw them away. We think it is acceptable to make plastic toys that are used once or twice as an incentive to buy more junk food. When will we realise that this is not how every other generation has lived, in fact it is an extremely recent phenomena. When will we realize that we really ARE going to run out of oil and that we need to stop wasting it!