Thursday, 23 September 2010

Mortal Enemies

It's come to my attention, during this little exercise of mine, that the biggest enemy of nature is convenience. Virtually every conversation I have had with anyone who is not 100% into the idea of this blog, and there are certainly quite a few of these people (I do not mean this in a bad way, the purpose of this challenge is to change my life and help people change theirs if they want to, not to make anyone feel ashamed of their lifestyle choices), has come down to this one complaint: it just isn't convenient to shop ethically.

Humans discovered, many many many decades ago now, how to live with very little effort. We discovered how to produce enough food and collect enough water and heat to keep us alive, and give us the ability to procreate. So we have surpassed the basic goals for any living thing on Earth. Since then, we have been on a mission to fill our lives with things we enjoy, and that we want. Nothing wrong with that. And now that we have so many things we want in our lives, we need everything faster. We need everything NOW. I am as familiar with this feeling of impatience as anyone else on Earth. That's why I am trying to find ways to make ethical consumerism convenient. To make it those three Holy Grails of modern life: easier, cheaper, faster.

Yes, it's true, shopping outside a supermarket does require more planning. It does mean changing your routine. It does mean that the sheer, riduclous, enormous range of products you and I are used to buying may not longer be right at your fingertips. But it doesn't mean deprivation. It doesn't mean difficulty and it doesn't have to mean inconvenience. It means a healthier lifestyle, for you and your community. For the people who live and work around you. It means sutainibility. It means responsibility. And, at it's most simple and wonderful level, it means great food. Food that stays fresh in the fridge for a week longer than you expect because it hasn't flown over from Spain (really, it's a big perk how long veggies last). Food that is versatile, and contains only what it needs to. Food that's the same colour as it was when it was grown.

Here's a disturbing thought. Human beings are the only species on the planet that produce waste that does not go back into a life system. We are the only ones who throw away things that cannot be used again. The only animals who require land fills. We create so much more than we need, and we waste what we don't use. And that waste cannot be re-used. It cannot be put back into the ecosystem. It's a fact that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it must flow into something else. Well most of our energy doesn't flow anywhere. It remains trapped in the piles of things we throw out. That's the big gripe about the supermarkets really, forgetting all the fair-trade stuff, the local stuff, their really big issue is how much they throw out, and how much it encourages us to throw out. My mum told me yesterday that it said in the paper this week that we throw out 67% of the dairy products we buy UNUSED in the UK. Can you believe that? I know I've done it, I bet you remember a time when you have too. And that's what changing your shopping habits can stop. OK, so I've only been doing this three weeks. But I can honestly say that in that whole time, I have not thrown out anything at all. I've had barely any packaging to throw out and what I have thrown has usually gone into the recycling. And that's not been hard, it's been completely natural because I haven't bought things I don't need. It's the first time in my life I can really say that and it feels good.

I encourage you all to have a go. Just to see that although it may not be as convenient as Tesco, it really isn't any harder. And you make a difference right away. It's the small steps that add up to the giant leaps.



  1. I can buy ethical deodorant at Tesco's...hmm. Should we encourage big corporations to stock things like this? That's something to think on too.

  2. Oh most definitely. My beef with supermarkets is not always what they stock. There are a large amount of ethical products that can be bought in supermarkets. Unfortunately, by buying things from them we're supporting the aspects of their business which aren't ethical at all. That's the conundrum. It's about trying to combine purchases of individually ethical products with buying them from somewhere which supports ethical consumerism as a whole. Otherwise we're taking one step forwards and two steps back.


  3. Keep up the good work - I hope you can preach to more than just the converted!