Tuesday, 19 October 2010

It’s (Not) Easy Being Green

I recently went on an all day workshop by the Living Witness Project on Climate Change: Our Quaker Response. It was, I suspect, how some Christians feel when they go to a revival--- full of renewed joy and enthusiasm for a topic close to their hearts.

We moved to England to be able to DO something about our carbon footprint. We left behind a wasteful life --a draughty old TARDIS house that was bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside, 2 vehicles (despite the fact that we worked at the same school which was a 10 minute walk away from our house) throwing away bags and bags full of rubbish because there was no recycling, filling up our space with lots of things we didn’t need. I can remember things like owning 27 drinking glasses. We would honestly get to number 27 before we washed up. Eating the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) of lots of plastic packaged artificial ingredient crap that barely passed for food but was easy to cook because it was fast and we were tired. Despite our affluence we were unhappy. And quite fat, if I'm honest.

Here in the UK we are able to really make a difference.
Ÿ         We choose to live in a small but comfortable 2 bedroom flat. FACT: 2 people do not need a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house to themselves. All that space is there begging to be filled up with things you don’t need.

Ÿ         We choose to live and work in the same town so that we can walk to work, to the shops, to the market or wherever we need locally. We can take the bus or train for longer journeys. FACT: 2 people do not each need their own car. We got by for many years with one before Spiderman learned to drive. I will be honest and say--I never wanted to walk anywhere in Louisiana due to the heat. I’d be a beet red, sweat dripping puddle by the time I reached my destination. Plus working as a teacher I had to carry loads of display materials or books I’d graded to and from school so I needed to drive. But not 2 separate cars to the same school.

Ÿ         Things that come in plastic with a tonne of preservatives and made from animals that were pumped full of hormones, led painful lives and experienced painful deaths is not food. FACT: Real food is made from fruits and vegetables and beans and pulses and whole grains. We try not to eat anything that is not recognised by our grandmother’s generation as food. With the exception of tofu--which my grandmother would not recognise, but an Asian grandmother would. FACT: anything beginning with Mc is not food.   

Ÿ         We recycle like mad. Cans and glass and paper are picked up every fortnight behind the flat by the council. We also have a brown bin for putting food waste and cardboard in. We fill up 1-2 buckets a week full of food scraps and peelings and cardboard that the council picks up and turns into compost. We can take tetra packs and plastics 1 and 2 and 5 and 6 (but not 3 and 4) to be recycled behind the supermarket. This means we only throw away a bag of trash every 3-4 weeks. Sadly, everything in that bag is plastic. INTERESTING FACT: We constantly hear people moaning about how England lags behind on the recycling front compared to other European countries--but to us coming from no recycling it feels amazing. Louisiana doesn’t do state wide recycling--just the major cities. And ours wasn’t major enough. Here at least everywhere does something and our county does heaps.

There are lots of things that we do. These are just a few. What are you doing? Don’t be put off by the fact that you can’t do everything. Do something. Do lots of somethings. They will add up to a big thing. Just do it.

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