It’s not easy being green

photo-1432817083480-c4471a7f2438I am now (eventually) the proud owner of a second-hand dishwasher (one of the electrically powered ones, not one of my children bribed into helping around the house).

I expect many of you are thinking ‘how can anyone live without a dishwasher?’. Others are probably struck by the irony of a person who espouses all things green succumbing to the lure of a household gadget.

But this decision has been decades on the making. There have been endless ‘shall we? shan’t we?’ discussions and many a near purchase, always stopped just in time by a big dose of Green Guilt.

Research shows that people who are trying to live a green lifestyle have the hardest time ever making consumer decisions – researching carefully into environmental impacts, energy ratings, Corporate Social Responsibility statements and the like. It’s possible for products to be discontinued in the time it takes a dedicated green shopper to reach a decision on their product of choice.

But is green consumerism all it’s cracked up to be? Yes, I can re-mortgage the house to buy bamboo bed linen instead of nasty non-organic cotton and I can pay over the odds for a plastic ruler made from an old plastic cup – but is it really saving the planet or just saving my conscience?

The real problem with green consumerism is that it’s an oxymoron. Buying stuff – even squeaky green stuff – is, more often than not, just plain bad for the environment. That stuff has to be culled from somewhere, manufactured to ‘add value’, imported  and transported; packaged and stored.

Green consumerism gives us a way to avoid any real sacrifice while feeling we’re doing our bit for Planet Earth. It creates a ‘halo effect’ of righteousness when in truth all we’ve done is drive the growth that is at the heart of our ecological crisis in the first place.

To really live lightly on the earth, we need to cut through the greenwash of false claims of ecological benefits and get back to buying just what we need, not what we want.

Which is how I ended up with my second-hand dishwasher. After years of failing to channel my inner Martha Stewart, I finally had to accept that domestic goddess-hood is not my forte.

And do you know what? After all that swithering and guilt, I’ve now got a more organised kitchen, lower ‘leccy bills and time to do lots more growing and gardening and making – all the things that really make for a green life.

I should have succumbed years ago.


10 and counting…

logoA number of years ago (90 months ago, to be precise) I signed up for a new initiative called 100 months. Like Flash Gordon in slo-mo, the claim was that we only had 100 months to save the world.

Now at first it was exciting and a bit different – it felt (like all of these things feel) like this might actually be The One.

The One that makes the difference. The One that does what it says on the tin. That One.

But as time has gone by it has lapsed, as everything from 10:10 to all those 20:20 vision things have lapsed, into a few memes from Collective Evolution and a bit of slacktivism on the side – sign this petition (it will only take a second), donate to this cause (go on, it’s just the price of your usual Grande, decaf, extra-hot soy Americano with extra foam), do anything and everything, without disrupting your life too much.

Another white knight face-plants the dust.

But that’s okay – I refuse to get downhearted (though there are days when the state of the world reported in mainstream media gets me down – those are the days I dose myself up on Positive News). If these last seven and a half years have taught me anything, it’s been to stop delegating responsibility for creating a better world to the ‘Theys’ (you know them, ‘They’ are the ones who should do something about potholes/world peace/Mrs Miggins’ cat/the economy…).

Because government and big business aren’t going to save the world – at this stage of their evolution, that isn’t what they are here for.

Celebrity endorsements won’t save the world either, however much charities (and we) dote on them and give our hard-earned donations for a quick flash of a famous one.

Charities? Nah. Petition signing? Uh, uh. Click to Give buttons? Aye, right!

And that’s the best news of all. Because once we take full and grown-up responsibility for changing the things it is in our power to change (and that’s always more than we think), we can start to make the difference the world is waiting for.

So over the last few years, I’ve been working hard to de-anaesthetise my life and stop numbing-down my days with screen time and trash TV. I’m unlearning the mantra of our times that you are what you buy (though I haven’t yet got round to applying it to books and plants), disrupting my life more and filling my time with experience, not things.

These days, I sign far fewer petitions – so few that Greenpeace want to know if they’ve done something to upset me.

And each day I try and do something that honours and co-creates with this amazing planet that we’re lucky enough to call home – all from the comfort of my own backyard.

I’m changing my life, and little by little, it’s changing my world.

How far will you go to change yours?