I’m not good with kids. I’m far too self-involved to ever have the time or patience to raise a child and would much rather have a cat (sleeps all day, hardly ever talks back) – I wasn’t even particularly keen on children when I was one. The best kind of child is the one you hear about from a distant relative, but never actually meet and the second best is the one that you can hand back to someone else as Their Problem.
But even I care enough about the snotty nosed little oiks (sorry, just kidding) to want to protect the world for their, and my, future. I took a cycle ride down the canal path the other day and was saddened by the amount of junk that had been thrown into the water at every bridge by people of all ages too lazy to carry it home and recycle.
Now I have to admit that things are a bit extreme in my house – labels are soaked off jars so that the paper can be recycled separately – but I do think that things are too complicated for the average Joe. Why don’t all products come with a recycle barcode so that when we chuck them away a machine somewhere can automatically sort it out for us? We have machines that sort out our food so that our cornflakes are a uniform size – so surely we can produce one that sorts out our waste?
Another thing that annoys me about trying to care for the environment is how much hard work it is shopping ethically. Like with Fair Trade products – where you pay an extra £1 secure in the knowledge that the particular sweat-shop worker who had to sort through your coffee granules with his teeth was beaten with a stick less regularly than the non Fair-Trade worker.
The problem is that labelling is never clear. For instance “Free Range” chickens can mean anything from “they roam loose over the alps” to “they get a slightly bigger window in the coop” And then there’s organic – a joke and a half if ever there was one.
In my local supermarket they sell organically grown Peppers: fresh, healthy products, grown without nasty insecticides (though probably in a bio-dome that blights the local view).
Yes – fresh, healthy products that are better for the environment…or at least they would be if they weren’t flown direct from Turkey and then individually shrink-wrapped, thereby negating the good done by not using chemicals.
Being a vegetarian/vegan is no better – if you give up milk and convert to soya you are personally responsible for destroying the rainforests, as farmers across the third world are tearing down trees in a frantic rush to plant soya fields. And yet your packaging does not give the option to choose. Also vegetarians passing wind produce more methane and thus damage the environment (NB – this is not an excuse to tuck into a Super Size Whopper)
Every day each one of us eats rubbish – mostly without realising. For instance – most pre-grated cheese is coated in flour to keep it from sticking together, but you won’t find this fact on the labelling.
Labelling in this country is still hit and miss at best – varying from good to bad to confusing within 2 isles of the same store. Every report about the environment says that we are in the eleventh hour with little time to make the changes required – so why are our leaders hesitating so much?
The only answer can be that they are afraid to make the tough decisions because they know it will lose them votes. And so we go on, spending our resources without a thought for the future.
Most of us do what we can – but without a larger commitment from those in charge it’s all too little and far too late.