Is it the system that needs changing or just my flip flops

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The theme this week is; can you fix everything? How much effort should you put into fixing things that can’t be fixed? Or do you think of alternative ways to make a difference? And then there is the intriguing story of the flip flops.

So I arrived back in Australia to hear that Malcolm had replaced Tony as Prime Minister and having not been paying a lot of attention to politics of late, it was a bit of a surprise. Now although I still wouldn’t put all of my faith in our leaders to solve the planets problems it has been interesting to see and feel some of the weight lifted from people’s shoulders. Particularly those who care about issues concerning the environment, science, education, economy and women (Minister for women, you’ve got to be kidding).


Is it possible that even some of his team have changed ever so slightly, since the leadership change? I note that Mr Hunt has declined a review of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Which in fact was just another attempt by “The Australian” newspaper to discredit the science behind climate science. This was on the agenda under Mr Abbot but not anymore. This is good news, no need to keep focusing on the already solid science; we have nothing to lose by living on a cleaner planet. Time to stop arguing, and start working together.


There was a time when I would get all worked up about what people thought, I wanted everyone to be on the same page. I would be continually frustrated by the lack of caring of others, or the endless piles of rubbish washed onto the beach, etc etc. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish there was no more plastic in the ocean and that everyone lived waste free and planted trees. But, that’s probably never going to happen, so what can I do?

Some of the ways I try to help the environment have become kind of like an addiction and the more you know the more you notice. Weeds are a good analogy here, when you don’t know the difference between a weed and a native, its just all green. After you educate yourself and learn a few species, you can’t help but notice just how many weeds there are. Everywhere, and no matter where you look you want to pull them out. It was so much more relaxing when you didn’t know.

Here is where the flip-flops come in. Sitting on the street waiting for someone in Vietnam, I was approached by a couple of shoe repairers. Now considering I was wearing flip flops I just thought I was safe from any attempted rip off / scam. Anyway next thing I knew, they were showing me how they could fix my old faithful’s. Feeling pretty laid back at the time (I was on holiday), I said to them “that’s great but no thanks”. Then pointed out some tourists wearing shoes and said there you go, perfect shoes for cleaning / repairing.


Not being too concerned either way or maybe assertive enough, new soles were glued on in seconds, shaped and hey presto they were finished. I had an old pair of flip-flops with brand new soles. The only problem was, the weakness here was not the sole it was the strap that runs through the toes to the sole. This is a standard part of flip-flops to give out and the next day while walking around they were no more. The strap blow out rendered the shiny new-soled on old flip-flops completely useless. I had wasted my $5, but I was more annoyed that I had wasted additional rubber that didn’t even get a full days solid workout.

Now although I didn’t plan to get my flip-flops repaired, what happened made consider some other systems and what tactics we can use to achieve the best results. Now even though I feel the real weakness in Australia’s environmental future is now gone we still need to change quite a lot. As the human population continues to increase, we really do need to operate more sustainably. Retail, food, waste and transport just can’t continue to work the way they do if we are going to double the population of the planet.

Grass roots community action probably still provides the best impact as far as the majority of us are concerned. As we know, if everyone was making an effort there probably wouldn’t be too much to worry about. While I’ll still be picking up rubbish when I can and planting trees where I can. I feel we need to find real solutions to feeding and clothing the world that aren’t continually adding to the problem. Shipping food all over the word, wrapping it in excessive plastic and then throwing it in the bin is just not sustainable. Neither is removing more forests to grow more food or creating products that are built to fail. What happened to the television that lasted 20 years?

So my freshly soled flip-flops died, they had provided me with kilometers of good service, but I replaced them with a pair that cost $2 or 30,000VND. How is this possible? Surely the materials alone are worth more than $2? If not for the faulty strap, perhaps the sole repair was a better way forward for my flip slops?

How is this possible?
How is this possible?

Perhaps the question is not should we repair the flip-flops, but should we just go back to producing quality over volume? Refashioning things is another option where parts of an item can be reused, taken back and added to the next generation. This a huge topic, but really we should all be thinking about ways we can ease the burden. Everyone is an expert at something and we all have the ability to be creative. There is something that you know a lot about and I bet there is something within that topic that could do with improving. So why not go about trying to improve it? We are wasteful in so many ways, and even though picking up litter on a beach is awesome, what if there was a simple change that could effectively stop millions of pieces of waste from making it to the ocean at all? Or even being manufactured in the first place?

So although the sole of the countries flip-flops are shiny and new, offering grip and protection from a few stones. Perhaps it is the strap that still needs better design, creativity and different type of mechanism to ease the burden on future generations. And I just bet, you have one of those solutions.


Looking for solutions to the food problem? If your anywhere near Wollongong in mid October check out this event, it should be a beauty. P



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