Time to think about time

Time…you either have too much of it or too little. Or, as social media posts will tell you, it’s not that you don’t have time, it’s about your priorities. Much as I have thoughts about these aspects too, and absolutely find we tend to glorify being busy and work above the rest of our lives to ridiculous proportions, what I want to share here is the value of time as a variable in an equation.

Only time will tell…

Our world consists of interconnected systems. Some are systems in nature, eco-systems, with plants relying on the sun and rain to do their thing and feed both the soil and animals around, who in turn also feed others and everyone and everything at the end of their existence still contribute to the system by adding whatever nutrients are left. Something like that.

Some systems are made by humans, and many are interactions between nature and human activity. Whatever changes are brought to a system – be that by adding something or taking something out – will have an initial effect by the actual change. “Adding pesticides” will have the effect of protecting the intended crops from harmful insects for instance. But the real change at a system level can only be seen after a longer period of time. And this is the tricky, and also scary, part. Perhaps the pesticides did not only kill off the intended insects, but also the pollinators who consequently could not do their job, leading to plants not being able to reproduce, which in turn lead to a decrease in whichever species was next in line to profit from the plants…

To sum up: Interfering with a system is a huge thing, visible only after a longer period of time, and must therefore be done carefully (if at all).

Time perspectives in our daily lives

In our daily lives, we are surrounded by things which will not perform well if we add a time perspective to them by thinking about the following questions:

  • How long did it take for the material(s) to be created?
  • How long will the product be in use?
  • How long will any potential left-over remain as waste?

For most foodstuff, these questions will be okay to answer (at least if we exclude the impact on the systems affected). You grow a crop, eat it and then whatever is left can be composted. Back to nature.

For many other products, the factor of some sort of plastic will enter the picture. Because plastic can be found in more products that we would like. In clothes (actually in more fabrics than not). In electric appliances. In toys. In kitchenware. In…well, just look around you, in so many of our daily products. And plastic will never score well when put into a time perspective.

  • Most plastic is made from fossil fuels, and as we know fossil fuels took millions of years to form.
  • The use will vary from handed down from one generation to another, in the best of cases maybe two or three generations, to emptying a plastic bottle of water in a few minutes only.
  • The plastic will remain waste for some 500 years.

Time itself a priority?

Returning to the social media wisdom shared in the introduction: it’s not that you don’t have time, it’s about priorities. Perhaps it’s time to make time itself a priority?

SCUPER, the Straight Circles Universal PERspectives, introducers time as one of the perspectives to consider.

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