On sustainability

Somebody asked me the other day what my views on sustainability were. Since giving what was inevitably a rather cobbled together response, I’ve been trying to work out what it is I actually think about this, and the rest of the environmental bun fight we’re all supposed to be up to our necks in.

One thing I think I have worked out is that it’s possible to be inspired by local stories of environmentalism, whilst simultaneously finding the global campaigns against climate change etc… rather depressing.  It took me a while to work out this out, but there is something quite annoying about the popular ‘make poverty history’, ‘save the penguins’ celebrity-endorsed movements.  The ones telling you the ice caps are melting, and that you must reduce your carbon footprint or else, etc…   I don’t feel that there’s a lot I can personally do about melting ice caps, that’s really only something the governments of the world can make a difference to, and I object to the likes of Hugh Grant telling me how I should be behaving.

If I start trying to take responsibility for it, well, I’ll never sleep again, plus I’ll become the most boring dinner guest ever as I try to convince the person to my left that they should really take a combination of trains and boats to Chile next summer, rather than the nice easy 8 hour flight they had been planning.  The governments of the world on the other hand seem to be more concerned about getting more flights in and out of Stansted airport per hour, so it’s a losing battle a lot of the time.

Similarly I don’t feel a need to spend time on this blog berating Starbucks for their policy of leaving a tap running all the time in each of its million branches, thus wasting enough water to give a swimming pool to each drought afflicted village in the world per hour, or whatever it is.  Who am I, to tell them how to run their business?  That’s for the newspapers to rant and rave about, and well they might.  Richard Branson deserved a slap because nobody else seemed to be bothered about how utterly ludicrous his claim about Virgin Galactic helping the environment was at the time, but there I rest my berating stick for a little while.

I prefer to concentrate on what I can do myself to live a sustainable life, and also what others are doing, both individually, and with other members of the community.  People who are planting shrubs and flowers in areas of local orphaned land, or removing rubbish from their local river, or simply growing their own fruit and veg in their back garden. A blinkered approach of looking at all the positive stuff going on around me, and trying not to think too much about all the depressing stuff is my philosophy at the moment I think.  Clearly I could make more of a difference campaigning against the expansion of Stansted airport than documenting green initiatives around the capital, but I’m just not that militant.

It’s nice to know though that not everybody is just sitting watching TV in their pants not giving a toss about anything other than whether they’re going to get a bonus in 6 months time, particularly in London.  Or, to be a little more realistic about this, that they are doing that as well, but then they get off their arse and haul a fridge out of the River Wandle at the week-end.

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3 thoughts on “On sustainability

  1. Hear Hear. It’s all about the positive steps, no matter how small they are. Yes, an awareness of the wider issues helps, but I’d get really depressed if I thought about that all the time. That way lies the danger of inertia as the problem then just seems too big.

    Michelangelo was asked once how he’d come up with the statue of David. His response was ‘I removed one piece of stone at a time until, there he was’ (or words to that effect and in Italian of course). I think we need to apply the same philosophy to making our environment better.

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