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30 November, 2007

Mea culpa

At the risk of repeating myself, the concept of 'green sins' really, really annoys me.
Speak of recycling and food miles in rational terms, and we'll broadly agree.
Speak in terms of pseudo-religious ethics, and you can **** off.

There's a beautiful example of woolly-mindedness in the survey results: 15% of respondents wrongly believed that buying fair trade products would diminish their carbon footprints. Aw. Bless.

Of those 'top five un-environmentally friendly "sins"' identified by the survey (for car manufacturer Saab, if that's significant):

  • 30% of respondents admitted they should keep a closer watch on domestic energy consumption.
    I think I do fairly well. I rarely heat my house, and certainly not unless multiple fleeces and pairs of socks fail – I don't try to reproduce June conditions in December, and never want to be 'cosy'.
  • 29% of respondents admitted to using transport when walking is an option.
    I don't drive anyway (I can, but my lifestyle doesn't really require a car), but I use my bike daily.
  • 28% of respondents admitted to cleaning with non-environmentally friendly products.
    The products I buy anyway may well be formulated to minimise their environmental impacts (let's lose the childishly-emotive term 'environmentally-friendly' too, eh?), but I don't specifically chose products on that basis.
  • 27% of respondents admitted to boiling a kettle full of water when making only one cup.
    That'd be alien to me.
  • 20% of respondents admitted to never recycling.
    As would that. I recycle everything but food waste and blended plastics, the former because I don't have space for composting (and my table scraps routinely contain meat) and the latter ameliorated by buying less plastic packaging in the first place.
Again, it's the way it's phrased that winds me up, not the underlying, practical substance. I suppose it's the imposed/presumed motivation: all this admitting reads like a slacktivist parody of catholic confession – empty catharsis and a desire for absolution from the pollster.
Around 60% of Brits claim they are "going green"
As I said, I act rationally, I don't engage with a trendy cult.
More than one third (39%) said they were not prepared to pay any extra for green products or services...
I'd be one of them.
... and 41% said they believed green goods could be made more widely available.
I wouldn't care.
A further 16% said they did not believe green products or services matched the quality and performance of their existing non-green brands.
Hmm. Maybe.
The majority of respondents (60%) said they were choosing to be greener out of concern for future generations...
Ha! I might be mildly concerned about environmental sustainability, about minimising human impacts on the non-human environment and optimising the human environment, but 'future generations'? **** em!
... but 10% said they were motivated by social image and the desire to look good in front of peers.
Right. That's what I believe to be the true motivation for far more than the 10% who admit it.


'Looking good'?! How bizarre. If I mention that perhaps, instead of throwing a pile of paper in the bin, I could put it in the recycling box in my office, I get funny looks. Maybe there are some parts (of the South, let's say...) where composting and sorting your plastics is popular dinner table conversation, but even my family, who love me dearly, I'm sure, think I'm a long-haired hippy for suggesting that one doesn't need the central heating on 'constant' for 14 hours of the day.

And recycling isn't even all that helpful. It's the last resort, after reducing and reusing. Do people boast about buying their veg loose? Or is it,"Well, I would, but you know, you don't know who's been touching it". Because farmers don't still use cow shit on their fields, of course...

Posted by Calephetos at December 2, 2007 11:02 AM
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