What Did You Do?
often I have that uncomfortable feeling when I think about
the environment, about how little I am doing in the pursuit
of a lifestyle that does not drain the planet's resources.
has been acerbated recently by my becoming a father. I'm not
of course the first to say that becoming a parent changes
your whole outlook on life. It's a common occurrence. You
find yourself contemplating your place in the whole scheme
of things. Thinking about those big old cogs slowly turning
it would seem, that all too frequently and at great expense
need oiling. And according to reports, oiling at the rate
of around 85 billion barrels a day globally. It's a staggering
statistic to take in. Numbers - and so many of them. So many
that it's quite demoralising to even contemplate just what
can be done.
that's a key problem here. Presented with such figures, we're
convinced that there is absolutely nothing that can be done
to alter the behemoth of global industry. Rather than feel
galvanised by scientific reports, it's a cruel irony that
we descend back into inertia.
can't think that there's a single person who isn't convinced
that we're on a one way ride to an environmental catastrophe,
yet trying to halt this just feels impossible. Trying to slam
the brakes on by filling your water cistern with a plastic
brick feels ludicrously naïve and pointless.
the potato peelings from Sunday's roast cannot conceivably
alter the trajectory of the potential disaster that is indeed,
if not in our lifetimes, going to increasingly affect our
Europe is increasingly being run for the benefit of multinationals,
not its citizens. The government and these businesses must
surely take more responibilty in helping people tackle climate
change and environmental problems by getting the damaging
products out of the shops. According to the government's own
advisory body, the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable, consumers
need to be able to buy green products and services far more
findings confirm what I think we already felt. They're preaching
to the already converted. And if someone would just convert
that car sitting in my drive, and at an affordable cost, I'd
gladly get behind the wheel.
a recent report the Roundtable stated that the government
and businesses are currently waiting on consumers to choose
more green products and services. Consumers are ready and
willing to act on climate change and the environment, the
report confirmed, but can't see the point, because they'd
feel their efforts would be isolated and in vain. This says
to me that the government is placing the onus on us, using
the consumer as a scapegoat. This is just wrong.
Mayo, co-chair of the Roundtable, said: "Going green can be
smart and stylish. But it is not yet simple. We want to call
the bluff of politicians, to take action to make the sustainable
choice the easier choice."
is concurrent with the views of the Green Party. Speaking
to a spokesperson from their press office, they had this to
say: "The government haven't created the right infrastructure
to make it easy and obvious. Going green can mean a whole
host of things; making sustainable choices about the food
we eat, the energy we consume and the way in which we get
to places. These activities are guided by rules and regulations
that ultimately are decided on by politicians. Particular
cause for concern would be our government's energy policy,
looking to outmoded technologies like nuclear power and the
same old fossil fuels for sustaining an over consumptive lifestyle
that they are scared of curbing."
added that buying fresh and locally sourced food would be
a lot easier if the government used its legislative power
to ensure small businesses and British farmers weren't squeezed
out by massive corporations who fly in cheaper food, damaging
both local economies and the environment in one fell swoop.
is it entirely hopeless? Fortunately, this is not the case
at all. They concluded: "We have a shrinking window of opportunity
in which to act. But an opportunity to radically overhaul
our economies and lifestyles should be seized upon as a positive
not entirely depressing by any means. There are indeed success
stories which are directly down to a positive lead from businesses
and the government. For example sustainable wood products,
fair trade coffee, dolphin-friendly tuna, energy-efficient
fridge freezers, washing machines and dishwashers; these are
all welcome steps towards a more environmentally secure future.
I'm wary of these successes. They tempt me back towards that
inertia. Though of course they are positive, they are still
very much isolated incidences.
so I am no longer going to wait around for the politicians
in Westminster to catch up and add some substance to their
rhetoric. David Cameron's photo opportunity astride a pushbike
was revoltingly patronising to me as a viewer. And as far
back as January, 2003, the press revealed that Jack Straw
had inadvertently let slip what we already knew; that the
war in Iraq concerned oil and the further securing of oil
supplies for the West.
my lifestyle might feel nigh on redundant when I see news
footage of another icecap melting and plunging into the sea.
Replacing my lighting with energy saving light bulbs, putting
that brick in the cistern and taking plastic bags with me
when I go shopping may feel hopeless. And I know that single-handedly
I won't be changing the world as I once thought I could, whilst
a teenager with my meat-free diet and dressed in slogans.
from now on I'll be able to do something that, as yet, no
politician will be able to do when my daughter turns 18 and
heads off into the world. If the politicians won't take responsibility
for their own actions, I certainly will for mine, setting
an example for my daughter to follow. Only then will I be
able to look her straight in the eyes, my conscience clear,
knowing I'd tried my best.