I 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.