Monday, 25 May 2009

The Ironic Bandwagon

My dad does it. Every night he reads the paper before stacking it with the rest of the week’s crumpled, old news. He also does this with cardboard. Empty Weetabix, Frosties and PG tips boxes are cut up in a prolonged, time-consuming fashion to be taken on their weekly trip to recycling.

So what is the meaning behind this environmental endeavour? I know my dad didn’t do this for the good of his health, or mine for that matter. It’s possible that we love our planet dearly and want to ensure future generations survival. More cynically, it’s because we’ve jumped on the eco-bandwagon as it catapults our society into an overwhelming sense of eco-panic.

Okay, so my dad may have been first on said bandwagon, but he’s definitely not the last. According to governmental statistics, as a nation, we are getting better at it too. Earlier this month it was reported that recycling rates have increased by 30% in the last year. This comes as no surprise. The idea of ‘green living’ and all that sits under the environmental belt has become one of huge importance over the last few years. Thus changing the odd habit into more eco-friendly ones is never far from our minds. In fact it’s everywhere.

Supermarkets stock ecological or ‘green’ merchandise, ranging from cleaning products to reusable bags for life. Websites pop up on Google searches reminding us to switch off our lights, turn off our TVs and insulate our homes. Adverts by retail giants encourage us to go for electrical products with the Energy Saving Recommended Logo. On TV, politicians claim to be environmental activists. Even the Academy Awards are in on it; the documentary film 'An Inconvenient truth' won an Oscar three years ago for the discussion of its global warming issues.

Even so, behind the ‘save the earth’ campaign, lurks an extreme rampant hypocrisy. Articles do their best to argue for eco issues, exerting their environmental prowess in the form of perplexing words such as ‘CO2 emissions’ and ‘carbon footprint.’ Next to said article is an expensive advert for a well-known airline which, ironically enough, emits the same amount of CO2 as a small country.

Similarly, the United Nations Climate Change Conference is to be held in Denmark for 10 days this December. The aim is to discuss the Kyoto Protocol; a ten year treaty hoping to reduce the harmful greenhouse gases which cause climate change. The annual meeting, however, attracts around 20,000 politicians and environmentalists, as well as the odd celebrity. The environmental cost of transport for all these people? Oh, only a few hundred thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions.

In addition, leaflets on voting for Green Parties are printed, posted and thrown away without so much as a glance or regret for the amount of trees wasted. Trees that could help decrease these harmful greenhouse gases, as well as moderating ground temperatures. Implicated supermarkets may very well produce green products, ban plastic bags and promote their trusty bags for life, but the revenue made on such commodities are pumped back into their already successful multi-billion pound businesses.

Sadly, nothing will change. My dad will carry on with his painstaking recycling methods. I will continue to re-use my bag for life until my baked beans fall out of the hole in the bottom. Eco-warriors will continue to camp in trees, remaining unwashed. But together, while the supposed ‘environmental’ consumerists reap the monetary rewards, we will leave the irony (and mess) of it all for the next generation.


  1. and all the while we will be lulled into a false sense of goodwill - believing we are doing our part for the future.

    but every little helps - so whatever your dad does is contributing in some way.

  2. It's true. I feel very strongly about environmental issues. I see red when i see massive 4x4 jeeps and SUVs driving around they really need a 4 wheel drive around bloody London?! NO they do not! Makes me so angry! But at the same time i hate the hypocrisy of the whole green issue. That makes me angry too! It's one big mess.

  3. Hi there... positive priase needs to be given (accentuate the good, always important).

    Bravo to Dad!
    Good on you for reporting on this issue... in fact, you have done a stirling job (ecologically wise) by having recycled these ideas so effectively and generating a bit of response.

    I am or would love to think I can be totally impartial. Able to see things prefectly from all angles. (but then, bar humbug)

    So I'll ask what the cost would be for us all to stop being addicted to electronic gadgetry?

    I recall once people would talk face to face, they would live in neigbourhoods where there existed friends, and most of their activities were on a social level... not psuedo-social, electronic ego tripping.

    I merely state this, as I think progress, any progress, always comes with a price-tag. Just ask the Athenians (those enlightened leaders of the Greek nation, who squandered everything because technological advancement led to over-indulgence, then decadence, then decay!)

    Only approxiamately (but likely less than) 5% of the world population is really responsible for 95% (or more) of the consumption of energy (not just gas guzzling cars, but heated homes, fully furnished kitchens, heated water on tap, and so the list goes on).

    Materialism has encouraged not just the hoarding of goods, but the demand for comfort that can never be provided to the entire human race. And the more the people with more demand, the less the people with less will have ( that is the rich get richer, the poor poorer).

    This is the underlying problem. This is why the media focusses on the environment.
    Let's find something practical to do.
    Let's feel good about doing it.
    Let's give soem praise, lets think positive.

    This is a very fine sentiment.

    But yes, sadly we do know it is not enough.

    Just please be careful of making light remarks about people living in trees who do not wash. They may be the closest spokesmen we have to avoiding hypocracy.

    Question is: would any of us be prepared to disconnect our electrical connectedness (at the very least curtail) in favour of solid social interaction.
    Talking vs i-Pods?
    Thinking vs vegetating?
    Playing games vs simulated games?

    I don't see the future... I only see the possibilities for the present.
    I'm logging off and going to bed.
    (The grumpy old man has spoken:)

  4. check the following link: - 85k

    (someone from the first world who shares experiences and insights of a divided third world country... my homeland)

    Some really good insights you may appreciate

  5. Wow. Joe. Thanks for the comments. Very thorough. I'm not sure I fully understand what you're saying but as i have just come out of hospital and am on a lot of pain relief, i'm gonna let myself off and come back to this later! I'll definately check out that link though, thanks! :)


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