Green Issues: A little here and there is getting us nowhere

Laura White
Laura White

Last edition I spoke about some of the positive things that came out of 2018 by certain people’s intentions and actions to make a difference to the natural environment around them.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this since and I don’t mind admitting, it’s pretty overwhelming. I’ve always been an advocate of doing what you can, when you can. Unfortunately, money has always played a big part in living ‘environmentally consciously’; eco-friendly products cost a lot more than mainstream, organic costs more than non-organic and sustainably sourced follows the same pattern.

Not having much disposable income, I buy these products when I can but that isn’t all the time and although that weighs on my mind, sometimes I don’t have any choice.

I had a conversation with a friend recently about altruism. I was saying that I would always give the homeless guy sat outside the Indian restaurant some money when I went to pick up a take-away, and I would do this because I felt guilty that I could afford this luxury while he was sat outside in the cold with no food or shelter. I would also do it because it’s the right thing to do, to help others whenever you can.

My friend argued that I did it because I wanted to feel good about myself and that no-one really ever does anything selfless without that selfish motivation of wanting to feel good.

I disagree with this thought but it has got me thinking about whether everyday people like you and me might ‘go in for this environmental thing’ to make ourselves feel good about doing our bit. I’m certainly not saying that this is a bad thing, but I am coming to the conclusion that this mindset needs to change. Living environmentally consciously needs to become the norm, not a lifestyle choice. And that will take a massive shift, globally, in the way every single person lives, works, consumes, even dies.

I was reading about the Trump administration’s reaction to the recent talks in Poland and was absolutely flabbergasted at the stupidity. The report stated that the assessment from the UN
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was compiled by 91 scientists from 40 countries, and had utilised results from more than 6000 scientific studies, concluded that we only have 12 years to dramatically change the way the world operates or ‘civilisation as we know it will be in severe peril by 2040’. Trump’s advisor, Wells Griffith, responded, “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability.”

What? Does this man not realise that without environmental sustainability there will be no economic prosperity?
There’ll be nothing! When world leaders have this attitude, how on earth are the rest of us supposed to get to the stage where eco-friendly products are the only ones available and plastic usage is at a minimum?

I now return to what I spoke about a month or so ago. Organisations such as Extinction Rebellion now seem to be the only way forward. My daughter will be just 28 in 2040, my son 26. Young people who should be enjoying life, not fighting for survival in a dying world which accepted the ignorant
stubbornness of people like Wells Griffith.
We might feel good about doing our bit by choosing to purchase Ecoleaf
washing-up liquid but these ‘token’ choices aren’t enough anymore.
This is a huge shift for me, too, and I’ve been involved in environmental work for years. Just this morning I went to the chemist and bought my daughter a new toothbrush, made of plastic, packaged in plastic, with toothpaste in a plastic tube, and chose disposable razors, made of plastic, over Gilette heads as I didn’t have enough money for the posh ones. I paid with a £5 note, which are now made with plastic polymer. But at least I didn’t put these things in a plastic bag, right? No, not right. There is nothing right about the disposable way we live our lives with very little alternatives available and those alternatives that do exist being too expensive for most people.

See what I mean about overwhelming? Where does one start?  I think the truth is that most of us have started. We do take small steps but now is the time to make a giant leap for mankind.

Because if we don’t change our way of thinking, and then our way of living, there won’t be a mankind left. And I really do want my children to live healthily past their mid-thirties.

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