Thursday, 18 February 2010

Greener than you

It seems that family disputes over green issues are getting more and more heated. People will defend their views on water-guzzling baths or imported T shirts to the last, leaving the rest of the family seething and bemused.

It can get doubly acrimonious when there's no clear right or wrong position. Cloth nappies or disposables? Dishwashers or washing up by hand? Each person is adamant they're the eco-purist and the other is ruining the planet.

Having your first child can make things worse as parents want to pass shared values to their offspring but then find their values are more clashing than shared. Then when the children go to school, they pick up the latest planet-saving tips and embarrass careless parents who're still squandering energy in all directions.

Couples can get incandescent over simple things like lighting. "Anita turns every light and computer on as soon as she gets home" says Mike. "I go around after her, turning everything off and quoting the Energy Saving Trust."

It appears that where once green views were just a casual matter of opinion, now they're part of a person's basic identity and an opposing view becomes personally threatening, as controversial as religion or party politics.

Jenny and I clearly haven't reached that stage yet, as we're not too concerned about our differing planet-saving attitudes. Whatever our particular passions, we just end up compromising haphazardly like most other people, cutting down on tea bags but turning up the central heating. Or not wasting food but leaving all the appliances on standby.

We'd be the despair of environmental hotshots with our totally unstructured approach to keeping the earth in good shape. But we're certainly not going to fall out over our footling domestic contribution to global pollution, when big business is laying waste to the planet on such a breathtaking scale.

Now excuse me while I finish off this delicious bottle of (Australian) Sauvignon....

Core Issues, a local evangelical Christian group, is holding a weekend conference at Ballynahinch in Northern Ireland, where they're promoting the idea of curing and saving homosexuals. Several gay groups are picketing the conference. They hope to convince gay attendees that they're just fine the way they are....


  1. It's hard to be green on a personal level but I try. Although kids will leave lights and fans on when nobody's in the room. Drives me crazy.

    I work for a so-called 'sustainable' company that bends over backwards to control it's carbon footprint on the surface but .. in reality, they're as much a waster as any other industry. Very hypocritical while the householder is being priced out of the water on electricity and .. .well water!

  2. I used to be good at saving lark, but then I thought of all the scares throughout my lifetime...

    • White bread
    • Butter
    • Drinking

    Then we had the things that never happened….

    • The Millennium Bug – never happened
    • Swine Flu with all the fuss about not having enough vaccine – now it all seem like it was a major hoax

    There is only one major problem that we need to worry about as far as I can see and that is Politicians. Rid the world of them and will be fine thank you very much.

  3. Baino - The amount of waste by the average business is extraordinary. If they seriously reduced it, they would save a lot of money.

    Grannymar - There have been a lot of phoney scares in the past. And doubt is being shed on the idea of global warming again, since many temperature measuring stations are in excessively warm spots.

    Don't get me started on politicians!

  4. Actually, the science connected to globsl warming has been known for years, but big oil and utilities companies have poured money into campaigns to discredit the scientists by creating the illusion that there is doubt...and you're right about the politicians.
    I left another comment or two for you, Nick, at my blog.

  5. Younger Son is doing Environmental Conservation in uni and leaves all the lights on every room he enters.

  6. "All drains lead to the ocean!"

  7. e - Indeed, all those businesses that depend on increased consumption of their products are always knocking the idea of global warming and using less of everything.

    Liz - I bet he's not the only one!

    Megan - True, the water doesn't disappear, it just goes somewhere else. Though drinking water that comes from desalination plants is very costly.

  8. My approach to this is, I suppose purely selfish.
    To fund my holidays, which I love - and they include air travel (bad girl).... I use low wattage light bulbs and keep the heating down using snuggle blankets with sleeves for TV watching moments, always use the washing machine with a full load, rarely bath - shower instead etc etc but - it is to keep my bills down! Thats why I was flabbergasted when I got the huge bill last month!!!!

  9. Kate - That's what I call a haphazard compromise, lol! But yes, not many of us would be willing to give up foreign holidays, even if they do mean air flights. I'm sure we all cut down consumption in many other ways to compensate.

    You're right about the bills. It's been an exceptionally cold winter here.

  10. I think awareness is the key, Nick, and once aware of the small stuff do our best, like cloth bags, no baths just short showers, cutting down on disposables partic wraps, watching packaging, etc.
    I'll stay out of your efforts if you stay out of mine should be the motto.

  11. I agree with WWW, awareness is the . key. My boys are more keenly aware of environmental issues than I was as school and I am grateful for their wisdom.

  12. www - I'm sure we're all doing as much as we can to reduce environmental pressures, though we all have precious habits we're not prepared to abandon.

    Hulla - So they keep you on your toes on green issues then? You can't get away with those crafty little fudges?

  13. Unfortunately, our species seems to look for ways to compete and make others feel inadequate, inferior and in disgrace. This is just the latest chapter in the ongoing war waged by those who piously condemn all who do not agree with them. I care about our planet and do what I can to keep it green, but I believe that everyone else has the right to do less - or more - than I do without being made wrong for it.

  14. Heart - Yes, it's one thing to suggest that someone could be doing more to protect the planet, quite another to act self-righteous and holier-than-thou because you're doing what they're not.

  15. I consider myself environmentally aware but i'm banging my head right now as the rubbish I meticulously separate into various recyclable bunches is lobbed all together by the rubbish collectors here - I'm losing the will to recycle fast

  16. Quicky - In some places they collect all the rubbish together but it goes to a depot where it's automatically machine-sorted into the different categories. Hopefully that's what they're doing in your neighbourhood.

  17. Grannymar took the words out of my mouth. I would also include bureaucrats in the list.