Thursday, 6 January 2011

Lightbulb moment

When I adopted Baglady, it took me about two weeks to come up with a pledge. It's madness, I know.

But really, look at it, if we want to have our planet still in working order for our kids, we'd all have to reduce our carbon footprint by 50%. Yawn. Yes, I know, it's not funny, exciting or new. Do keep reading though, and share the lightbulb moment (pardon the pun) I had:

I read this in the New Scientist from about 2 years ago, so it must be true. Just take this percentage as real (of course it's more complex, as in, a person living in the US has a much higher carbon footprint than someone living in the UK and someone in the UK has a much higher one than your average Indian etc) - you see, switching off lights or changing to energy efficient light bulbs, or even getting your loft insulated isn't going to cut it. Somehow, I had a feeling it was a bit futile, this switching off business because my bills have reached the lowest possible denominator and we just can't get below that without being very cold (we are cold already because our heating system can't cope with sub zero temperatures - turning down the thermostat? You must be joking!), getting ill as a result (which increases carbon footprint through use of medical stuff) and tapping in the dark.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't do these things, they're all great and save you money, so surely it's a no brainer to at least attempt all of this.

The big carbon belzebub is something else. It's what's driving our very economy, it's the holy grail of economists and politicians alike: consumerism and growth. They are interlinked, our economic model is dependent on growth - without growth no jobs etc, but growth can only continue as long as we buy stuff. Stuff like a new mobile phone every year. Lots of toys, clothes, latest gadgets, everything really.

We, you, I, they won't save the planet by switching off the TV that is on standby overnight. It's not buying the TV that's going to make a difference. Cheerio retail therapy.
And yes, not buying stuff will have an adverse effect on our economy. That's because our economy is, simply put, unsustainable. Unsustainable is not just a word that goes in one ear and out the other. It means that things really and truly can't go on as they do right now. As in, things will change, and we can either take control of this change or be victims of it.

Communism didn't work, we know that already. But neither does capitalism in its consumerist form. We just haven't seen the full collapse yet.
As far as I'm concerned, I have no problem advocating not to buy stuff, because as far as I can see, it's the only way that my children will have some quality of life in 40 years time.

So, from here on, I will endeavour to remind myself at all times to (a) consider if I really need something I'm about to buy, and if the answer is yes, (b) to try and make it (plan A), to buy second hand if I can't make it (plan B), and to buy handmade if I can't get it used (plan C). I will also gladly buy services because they pay people and their skills, rather than create demand for stuff.

Something along the lines, get a massage as a treat instead of a box of chocolates.

PS sorry for lack of links, got a poorly baby sleeping on my lap as I type this and can't be bovvered...



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