Apparently, it ain’t easy being green. Or is it? These days, we are inundated with companies, services and products that can all help us live a more eco-friendly life, how fab! We now have doorstep-recycling schemes, organic clothing companies and fair-trade products available in most supermarkets along with the ubiquitous organic everything.
We can almost feel the smugly green glow of ethical consumerism with ‘betcha not as green as me’ shininess emanating from the glossy pages and spangly websites like an eco-parade of planet-saving paraphernalia.
Have we mistaken our compost bins for actual compost?
Being ‘green’ is not a product or a service, it can’t be bought (even with a Co-Operative bank credit card) nor can it be sold. It is an attitude, a way of life, a decision to have less impact on the planet because, let’s face it, there are too many of us, using too much stuff and throwing loads of that stuff away.
Can we really live a more planet-friendly life by buying more things? Even if they have greener-than-green credentials? Yes, your new skirt is hand-woven by people paid a fair wage and using organic cotton but did you really need to buy a new skirt at all?
Are we mistaking the buzzwords of eco-marketing for genuine grassroots action?
We only need a fair-trade label because poorer nations are being ripped off by the richer ones. We only need organics because someone invented pesticides to maximise profits. We only have ‘green issues’ because over-consuming is killing our planet.
We are all consumers, green or otherwise and so perhaps the most important thing we can do as individuals is to consume less.
Consider recycling. It allows the planet-caring amongst us to carry on consuming as normal but with an eco-caveat. “It’s OK to buy loads of stuff in tins and jars because I send them to be recycled”. That is all well and good but wouldn’t it be far greener to buy less packaged stuff and then reuse the jars and tins instead? Or better yet, just eat more local, organic and raw food so there is no need for jars and tins at all.
Most of us probably remember a time when glass bottles could be returned to shops to be reused and we got money back for doing it too. I wonder if more people would be ‘greener’ if this scheme was still going? Did you know that glass from bottle banks is crushed and used as infill for road-building of all anti-planet things? So maybe it’s time to put our LETS credits where our mouths are and view our recycling boxes with a suspicious eye or at least see them as a last-resort place to put our rubbish. When we rely on third parties to remove our waste, we lose control over the end result just like with any centralised system — can we really be sure that our municipal recycling contractors are doing what they say on the proverbial tin?
Being green is actually simpler than it seems because all we have to do is buy, do and use LESS!
— Reuse instead of recycle.
— Buy second-hand instead of brand new (no matter how ‘eco’ the product claims to be).
— Eat fresh real food instead of tinned and packaged ‘convenience’ meals.
Maybe it is time for us to ‘make do and mend’ instead of ‘eco-expend’.