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Living Lightly column

Breaking the Supply Chain

By Kirsten Coates

The annual tradition of announcing the “Word of the Year” by various dictionaries is always interesting but never surprising. We have had “vax”, “quarantine” and “iso” in the last two years. But before that, the 2019 Word of the Year according to the Cambridge Dictionary was “upcycling”, the activity of making new items out of old or used things.

Although it is not one word, a possible candidate this year could be “supply chain”. No matter what it is that is not available, “supply chain” always seems to be the culprit. From “the factories in China” to “the truck drivers in NSW” to the “floods in Queensland”, the supply chain does not seem to be working particularly well for us at the moment. It would seem as soon as there is a glitch in the system, we are without building materials, exotic fruits, lawn furniture or new cars.

Although there are many very important items that have been affected by the supply chain, it would seem there are also a great many things that could be used as part of a re-imagining of living without dependency of things made and produced many, many miles away.

A recent dalliance with a free giveaway site online presented a whole new world of people solving acquisitional problems without any exchange of money. To offer items for free and to obtain items for free was not only practical, it engendered such good will that every transaction, without exception, was friendly, respectful and steeped in gratitude. Items were not only staying out of landfill, but they were being acquired regardless of the state of the supply chain.

So, to what extent can we insure ourselves from the whim of supply chains?

Bicycles eliminate the dependence on fuel, local food producers eliminate the need to rely on transport systems. Freecycling and Buy, Swap, Sell sites work on the basis that when you ask for something it’s highly likely there is someone close by ready to get rid of what you are seeking. Local craftspeople make an enormous arrange of goods, and the world is full of clever people repairing any number of things. Freedom from the shackles of the supply chain may in reality not be that difficult to achieve.