A different kind of harvest

I believe in environmental sustainability, and I believe in the essential capacity of most people to overcome challenges. So I’m not too gloomy about our future prospects, though many people and organisations paint a bleak picture about the future of this planet.

But I have a slight problem with those who say I must cut down my carbon footprint and do more to live sustainably. Sustainable options usually involve the exchange of convenience – a car to drive to work, a plane to fly us to Australia – for something less impactful, that takes longer and gives a new pace to life – so we take the bus to work, or we walk – and this I do understand. Except that I already live quite a modest life, and, as far as I can, I live low-impact. I cut down my use of water and turn out the lights, I eat only a little meat, I don’t do dairy or sugar or beef or white flour, and I have clothes in my wardrobe that I’ve had for two decades. The list goes on.

Yes, I would love to do more to reduce the impact of my life on the environment. And yet, the time it would take me to go swimming, riding or shopping without a car would make these activities a practical impossibility. I would have to hire taxis, and how environmental is that?

I’m glad my daughter can leap up and down the stairs like a gazelle. Some days it takes me ten minutes just to reach the front door. So the injunction to her to cycle or walk might be a minor inconvenience. To me, that kind of injunction means I would live almost exclusively at home. Which is not how I wish to live.

So the question becomes, what can I do to help with the environment in such a way that I do not feel personally and socially compromised almost to the point of atrophy?

I went out to pick brambles recently, and there were none. Someone has cut back all the bushes, and anyway, it is far late in the season: the warm weather may be deceptive, but I can’t cheat the calendar.  So instead, in a different kind of harvest, I filled a bag with litter, recycled most of it and threw lots of shredded plastic into the bin. That is something I can do, and do regularly, to help the environment, gain some exercise and fresh air, without surrendering more of my normal life to the cause of environmentalism.



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