What Can/Should an Individual Do?

What Can/Should an Individual Do?Should we continue as we are now, but make smart little tweaks that add up to a big difference? That seems to be the mainstream view coming from most campaigning. There is a particularly well put together set of such suggestions here from Laurie David the Inconvenient Truth producer. It is truly amazing how much energy is used by incandescent light bulbs, chargers and how much packaging waste is create by disposable bags and cups. But is that it? What would be the total reduction from such lifestyle non-invasive measures? Would it reduce the average consumer footprint in America by (the required) 85%. You have to wonder.

The alternative is fundamentally changing our lifestyles, not just some of the material details: To something that’s starting to be known as slow living. I’m reading a book on this at the moment and they make the point that the slow food movement grew up in bustling cities. It’s not a retreat (like downshifting) its about balancing out. For instance I found that cutting out most international conference speaking would halve my foot print on its own. That’s rather specific to my life(and work)style, but aviation is a good example of the clash of aspiration vs responsibility. It’s also one of the most overrated things to spend any amount of time doing; far from being glamorous it is a total waste of time, is stressful, unhealthy, tiring and tedious. As in so many areas, living greener also means living better.

I was off to the shops today and saw someone else also carrying a cotton shopping bag and for some reason the uniformity of it all reminded me of the Chinese cultural revolution. Maybe that’s what we actually need. Maybe China is where the real change is going to start to happen too? Or maybe little changes that add up really are enough? I wouldnt pretend to know the answers, but am inclined to err on the side of caution. You only have to look out of the window to see (depending where you are in Europe) fires, floods and so on. I dont mean to be gloomy, i just wonder at what point we might as a generation sit up and smell the planet burning?

Posted by J Grant

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