I produce a lot of waste. (There’s a lovely first sentence….) Perhaps I should clarify and say that diabetes produces a lot of waste. And as such, I am very conscious of reusing, recycling and reducing wherever I can, especially in a society where so much is so easily disposable.
Over the weekend, we found ourselves wandering the aisles of our local Officeworks store. The reason for our visit was to buy some cartridges for our (rather old) printer at home. We print virtually nothing. In fact, the only reason that we needed to buy cartridges was because the kidlet is back at school and it’s project time, which means printing things.
What we discovered was not only that the cartridges for our 10 year-old printer were no longer stocked (probably shouldn’t have really been all that surprised!), but that it would be cheaper to buy a whole new printer than it would have cost to replace the two cartridges we had planned to buy.
I was even more horrified when the very helpful sales staff told us that a lot of people simply buy a whole new printer instead of replacing the cartridges when they run out because it is cheaper.
‘But it’s so…so…wasteful,’ I said to him. He nodded. ‘Oh, but we recycle old printers, so you can bring your old one in to us. That’s what most people do.’
I didn’t want to point out that as wonderful as that may be, it still takes a lot of energy and resources to produce a printer in the first place – especially if it is to just be thrown out after a few months, or however long it takes to work through the ink.
I am very conscious of this as (as previously stated) someone who produces a lot of waste – waste that I can’t do anything about because the products with the waste are keeping me alive.
Between pump line and sensor changes, BGL strips that litter like glitter and empty juice boxes and jellybean packets, there is a lot of packaging and used product that winds up in the bin.
The only reason for all this stuff is diabetes. And it annoys me that a lot of it seems superfluous. Every time I open a pump line, there is a little round disc that is meant to be used whenever I disconnect the pump to cover the exposed knob of the infusion set. How many times do I use that disc? Never. As in: not once. In fact, most of the time, it winds up on the floor and the cat plays with it or the puppy chews on it or I step on it in my bare feet and swear. But it is in every single pack.
All this stuff creates (even more) diabetes guilt.
There are things I do try to recycle in some way. When I upgrade my pump, I donate my old pump to either someone who is interested in trying one out or to a clinic (although that is less likely to happen these days because of warranty issues). I don’t take endless BGL meters from device companies or HCPs, just because they are free. And I try to reuse where and when I can. (I refill cartridges in my pump a couple of times and refill strip cartridges with hypo portions and spent pump lines tie up plants in the garden.)
Yes, I know that we can refill the cartridges with ink ourselves. ‘You just need to use a syringe and ink. You’re good at that. You know, drawing things up with a needle and shooting them into things,’ said Aaron helpfully – a suggestion that was rewarded with a look that suggested that was one of those comments best kept to oneself. But no, we won’t be doing that, because: mess. I have, however, looked online to see where I can source cheaper cartridges and will order them.
I also just want to say that I am absolutely not guilt-free when it comes to using throwaway products. I more than happily, and without any shame, used only disposable nappies when the kidlet was little. When someone told me that each nappy took one hundred years to break down and I should consider using cloth nappies, I nodded and said cheerfully, ‘Yep, but if I start having to wash nappies, I reckon it will take me about five minutes to break down. And the baby is kind of expecting me to be functioning enough to feed her. She’s demanding like that. So, disposables it is!’
But somewhere in there, there has to be a happy medium between taking the easier route to save one’s sanity, and throwing out a printer when the ink runs out.