Sunday, May 27, 2012

34. Slaves of Civilization

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It’s been quite a while now since a tricky issue (and the funny answer I gave) has been nagging me, for I understood that – like many of my fellow citizens – I somehow take for granted that which really destroys our environment. The question went like this, ‘What modern invention couldn’t you live without?’ I readily said ‘glasses’ (as is evident from the picture which shows me), but then there was a further clarification, and I said, ‘I don’t think I could live without plastic bags.’
Am I the only one?

Waste Not, Want Not
 [adapted from Focus on First Certificate, by Sue O’Connell]

Read through the text quickly, ignoring the gaps for the moment, and decide what it’s about. Choose the best description from the list below.

A How to save money when you go shopping
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B How to get rid of your rubbish
C The problem about the rubbish we create
D The problem about the food we eat

‘Waste not, want not,’ my great-aunt used to say to me as she carefully snipped the string from parcels and folded brown paper away for re-use. If she received anything wrapped in fancy paper, she kept if for next year’s presents.

Such economy seems strange in our throwaway society, where disposable means convenient, and cupboards are filled with boxes and packets and cartons.

(1)_The idea of a ‘gift pack’, where the gift wrapping is as important as the gift itself, would have been regarded as a cheat 30 years ago. Today it is acceptable for even a packet of biscuits to be enclosed in three layers of wrapping.

(2)_It costs Britain £720 million a year to dispose of its rubbish (70 per cent of which is packaging). The average family uses up six trees’ worth of paper a year and, if all the cans used in Britain in one year were placed end to end, they would reach to the moon and back twice!

Just how much rubbish does go into our bins? (3)_As a young professional couple working long hours, most of our shopping consists of convenience foods. We had expected to have a lot of rubbish, but even I was shocked to find that our final waste bag was 1 metre high and weighed over 6 kilos!
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(4)_In one week alone we threw out 300 sheets of newspaper, 12 bits of junk mail, all unread, five old magazines and nine brightly coloured paper boxes which had once been home to a pre-cooked meal, assorted pizzas and biscuits. The rest of our rubbish was a sad smelly assortment of baked bean and sweet corn tins and burger cartons. ‘Yuk,’ said my husband, as we sorted through our bin bag.
(5)_According to Pippa Hyam of Friends of the Earth, our paper and the metal in our cans are valuable materials which could easily have been re­processed and re-used. She was more worried about our use of plastic, which is difficult to dispose of and may last for hundreds of years. She would like to see people using less plastic. (6)_Making plastic uses oil, which is running out. It should not be thought of as a cheap disposable product,’ she says.
Six sentences have been removed from the text. Choose a sentence from the list (A-F) below to fill each of the gaps. Write the correct letter in the space. The first one has been done for you as an example.
1. B
A I’m prepared to pay a little more for things that aren’t packaged in plastic.
B Nowadays, packaging is not only used to protect goods but also as a positive selling feature.
C Our bin was bulging with paper.
D My husband and I offered to analyse the contents of our weekly household waste.
E Is this really what we eat?’
F But we pay a high price for our sophisticated packaging.
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Find words or phrases in the text which mean the same as the following. The paragraph numbers are given in brackets.
1.       cut with scissors (1)            
2.      not plain or ordinary, with a lot of decoration (1)       
3.      saving of money (2)            
4.      intended to be thrown away (2)              
5.      a dishonest trick (3)                       
6.      get rid of (4)             
7.      advertising material sent through the post (6)           
8.     collection of various things (7)