Thursday, November 30, 2006

Check this.

For those of you who see the attraction in working less and spending less I thought I would bring you attention to this book.
Martin Lewis, for those of you who don’t know, is a “money saving expert.” He is a familiar face on British TV and his web site is dedicated to saving people money. In response to some of the more ethically aware contributors to his forum he set up a page for green / ethical money saving, as well as a saving money “Old Style” page, and as a result of this page he has now published a book - Its called "Thrifty waysfor modern days"

“It’s a compendium of hints and tips on living life thriftily, ethically, cheaply and healthily. It’s written off the huge collective wisdom of the site’s ‘Old-Style’ board, which started when some of the site’s older visitors wanted to share their accumulated knowledge; it covers cleaning (white vinegar galore), clothing, home maintenance, recipes and everything on running a home without over-consuming.”

Plus – all the money from the book go’s to charity.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Curb your emissions

Laurie David, according to an article in this weekends Guardian, is one of America’s foremost environmental campaigners. She is also married to Larry David – writer of “Curb your enthusiasm” and “Seinfeld”
Laurie David has campaigned against SUV’s and has been a driving force behind the Al Gore movie – “an inconvenient truth”. She has even written a book “The solution is you – an activist’s guide”.
All admirable pastimes for a wealthy liberal, but here is the problem – not only does she own a second home, she also owns a private jet! So regardless of the fact that she only uses it a few times a year, her carbon footprint must be as big as a fleet of SUV’s.
I just don’t understand how an environmental campaigner expects to be taken seriously when they own a private jet – this has got to be one of the worst excesses of the wealthy “elite”.
To me it just de-values all of the other good work that she does. If you want people to change their lifestyle in order to save the planet there is only one place you can start – yourself!
I think the British and American definitions of an eco-warrior differ somewhat. When I hear (some) Americans talk about eco-warriors – they more often mean some high flying environmental lawyer, or some Hollywood celebrity, or some entrepreneurial business man who is “doing their bit”. Whereas in the UK, we are more likely to think of Swampy and other activists who bury themselves underground to prevent a runway being built or handcuff themselves to a JCB digger to prevent it cutting down some trees.
I’m sure the high earning eco-warriors are doing their bit to raise awareness of the issues, but I’m afraid you’ll have to do better than that if you are going to earn our respect.
If there is one thing that this earth can’t sustain – it’s millionaires!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Minister encourages direct action

As global crisis looms ever closer it’s good to see a government minister encouraging a bit of direct action.
Despite an agreement with some of the countries biggest retailers to reduce their packaging it isn’t happening as fast as some of us would like. I was therefore glad to see that environment minister Ben Bradshaw has advised food shoppers to leave excessive wrapping at the tills and to report the stores to trading standards in an attempt to cut the amount of unnecessary plastic sent to landfill sites.
From being a minority interest a few years back, green politics really seems to be making an impact. Every day sees several new environmental stories in the broadsheet newspapers.
I wonder, come election time, how this will translate in to votes for the Green Party? With the main parties increasingly incorporating green policies in to their manifestos, I hope the Green Party doesn’t miss the opportunity to push for some truly green policies.
A truly green manifesto needs to be a lot more radical than what the main parties are suggesting, but at the same time the general public are less inclined to vote for policies that will impact on their lifestyle.
People before profit has never been a popular position to adopt, but as the effects of global warming become increasingly apparent the radicalisation of our political system might be an interesting by-product of this process.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy to be ethical

I have just finished a book by Peter Singer called Practical Ethics. Singer was one of the key thinkers in the animal rights movement, but his work goes much further than this, and has informed much of the debate that exists around environmentalism amongst other things.
In his conclusion to the chapter on the environment he says :

“The emphasis on frugality and a simple life does not mean that an environmental ethic frowns upon pleasure, but that the pleasures it values do not come from conspicuous consumption.”

In the final chapter on why we should act ethically he argues that taking the ethical point of view offers a meaning and purpose in life. And I think that in our increasingly secular society this is certainly true. I think that there is a certain amount of fulfilment that can be gained through trying to live an ethical life, which is something that those who accuse us of being killjoys seem to miss.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my day is the simple pleasure I get from commuting by bike. Nothing I could go out and buy, at whatever price, would give me more satisfaction than the simple freedom that the bike gives me.