Posts Tagged ‘environment’

I am not an expert

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I am not an expert. I do have enthusiasm for certain topics, though, and that enthusiasm leads me to read stuff and, in turn, I am able to form ideas and opinions.

Can I be green and…?

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

A quick thought: Leo Hickman has “an ethical guide to everyday dilemmas” where he addresses aspects of our lives with regard to “being green”. The last one I looked at was “can I wear glasses or contacts and be green?” Catching mice whilst remaining green and buying underwear but not reducing one’s green credentials have also been covered.

On one hand, he is providing answers to questions people might have about the environmental impact of small actions we might not give much thought to, and underneath these small things can sometimes lie huge implications. For example, the answer to “can I wear jewels and be green?” talks about the conditions workers endure.

On the other hand, environmental concern appears to have been reduced to apparently pointless and arbitrary questions. Perhaps there will be an article asking if it is possible to read a map and be green or write in a notebook and be green or use a skipping rope and be green. (A quick glance around my room provided those suggestions.) I don’t doubt that there can be ethical implications bigger than might be expected (maybe my leather skipping rope was made by people in a developing country, made using the skin of an endangered animal), but I think we have to remember what our main concerns are. Our main concern is creating a fairer world, isn’t it? I think it is. It’s a huge one, sure, but it can be broken down into more manageable areas like food, money, materials, welfare, and so on. As well as remembering the bigger picture, I think we ought to consider that some things just aren’t that important.

I read a short essay by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. He said his family chooses fairly traded organic oranges because they believe this is a good choice (farmer gets a good price for their work and is also spared handling chemicals) despite the food miles. The peel can’t be put in the compost or given to their chickens, so it gets thrown away. He says he was once told citrus peel can be composted once they have been left in a bin of their own to decay a bit first, but he throws them away because he can’t be bothered to go to the hassle of that. The point is that the bigger things outweigh the smaller things.

Let’s focus on reducing our output of methane and carbon dioxide and whatever else is trapping heat, encouraging fair trade, redistributing wealth, adapting a cradle-to-cradle approach to design and things like that; “issues” like the environmental impact of wearing contact lenses are nothing compared to those things.

I know that small actions can add up to a lot when repeatedly done by loads of people, but I think small actions get too much focus. Shall we wait for small things to add up to a big change over time, or just make big changes straight away? Let’s not waste time with and get distracted by the environmental impact of every small thing.

I’d be more interested in a series of short articles addressing the environmental impact of big and small actions, along with their relative importance in the world.

(“Can I be green and surf the net?” is one of the “ethical dilemmas”. For somebody to start considering this, I think they must have looked at bigger ways to lower their impact on the planet, like the use of the car and how they go on holiday, and if they haven’t they can’t be that interested in lowering their carbon emissions.)