Step 2 (or wherever you're up to!)

I wanted to write to you about our eco plan that my husband and I put together this weekend. I’ve recently been working on our school green award action plan and thought I’d just see how we were doing on our own home.

The list looks good: Solar panels, Air source heat pump, one hybrid car, renewable energy supplier (Bulb is the one we use), primarily meat free diet until a male man-child enters the premises, reusable bags, cups, bottles etc.

All great!

Well I guess that just depends who and what you read.

I read an article recently that was incredibly articulate stating the case for there to be cattle in the UK and that what we should be doing is sourcing food locally.

Okay, well, that sounds fair enough, it’s a choice right, you can eat meat if you want to, but if you do, source it locally and perhaps don’t eat as much and certainly not all the processed stuff. I always thought that we should eat food that is native to the country in which we live really. The same article tells me, the reader, that my fridge will emit more kgs of carbon than x amount of cows living in my neighbourhood.

Then a couple of days later, a different article states that cows are the main source of any kg of food carbon that is released into the atmosphere and it doesn’t matter if you source your avocado from Peru or wherever, there is less kg in flying it here than the fucking cow (yeah, I’m not talking about literally flying the bovine first class either!). Thus we shouldn’t eat local but eat the right stuff.

Anyone else feeling pretty confused right now? Yup, you’re not alone.

So, as a mere hoomun, trying desperately to do my bit to reduce our footprint, who am I meant to believe? I don’t eat meat, so in all honesty it is a little bit of a moot point, however, some of my family do, my daughter would also happily become an avocado if she had the chance. So whereas I feel guilty each time I buy her one, hoping that the fact I’ve not bought beef in weeks will off set some of my food miles/guilt tokens, maybe it’s okay? Who the F knows? and that is my point.

We are trying to make this as easy as possible, there are books telling us how to ‘be green’ ‘reduce our plastic waste’ ‘be sustainable’. We are trying to undo the damage we have caused just by being humans on this planet. Our mere existence and desire to learn and improve has become our downfall. Some call it arrogance and yes, there must be recognition that we have a superiority complex, and add that to the fact we are driven by money, time, and self centred-ness, we are steadily destroying the one and only thing we actually need.

However the one thing that no one seems to be able to agree on, or at least please show me where this is, is WHAT IS THE MAIN THING I CAN DO in my stupidly small and insignificant existence to ensure that there might be some kind of existence for the future.

Is it fossil fuels?

Is it meat?

Is it flying?

Should I buy my food online, or will my computer usage outweigh the kg it’d take me to drive to the shop with my reusable bag in my hybrid car??? FUCK KNOWS?!

The books are well meaning and many are probably highly accurate, however, for the consumer who needs know how to start breaking habits of a lifetime it would be fantastic if there could just be agreement here as to what do we need to do, what is the main cause of this that I can do something about?

A lot could be deemed ‘common sense’ weeeeelll, yes, but do you remember the lady who wanted to buy her individually wrapped cheeses as they were because she knew no better (Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall’s plastic programme early last year). To her, that WAS common sense, she didn’t need a big slab to go off whilst she just ate a small portion at a time.

I guess the answer is to do the best you can with the information you have available to you at the time.

  • Eating less red meat is probably a good start because scientists will tell you that too much isn’t that great for your health either, but if you like a good steak, source it well, good quality, organic if you can and from up the road rather than Argentina is probably best.
  • Eating locally is probably better than sourcing from afar because you’re actually supporting local farmers and businesses.
  • Eating a variety of food is also probably good for you and the government’s ‘eat well’ programme is a sensible place to start
  • Cutting the amount you drive places, not sitting with your car idling and biking more will have a significant impact on your health and fitness as well as those around you.
  • Putting on an extra sweater over turning up your thermostat may save kg in carbon emissions when added up, but it will save you ££ when you look at your bill!
  • Reducing the single use plastic in your home will also reduce your overall bill. You can still have that cup of Joe, but you’ll get 25p back at many of the main chains these days if you bring your own cup. That’s £13 if you just have one cup a week for a year!! More than the cost of the cup! However, going out to buy shit loads of non-plastic stuff so you can then…oh yeah, throwaway the plastic you already have…er?
  • Put less on your plate – another way to not only reduce money, reduce emissions, but also keep you trim. Waste food accounts for a huge proportion of carbon kg. OR, if you feel up to it, get a compost in your back yard and then create your own stuff to feed back into the soil.

Be careful of “greenwashing”, which is where a company tells you they’re doing this amazing environmental alternative to reduce kg carbon but actually, the product goes off quicker, so more gets wasted and you need to buy more, or you get roped into buying only from them because they are the only ones who will refill the specialist container etc. Definition is here . In otherwords do some research on anything that sounds too good to be true. Quick fixes from big companies are not the answer as I’ve said before. The answer is an international circular economic model one which will take time to design and implement.

So, without trying to sound an arrogant prig, hopefully this helps with the ridiculous minefield of information that changes in the press on a daily basis. Don’t be frightened to ask the questions.

Oh and before anyone asks, apparently avocados are shipped over…less carbon emissions allegedly and it’s better than the wrath of an avo starved teenager *rolly eyes – which I do better than her!

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