Monday, 19 August 2013

Superficial Living

Regular visitors will know that at present yours truly is living in the grand mega-metropolis of a west of Ireland country town. A pleasant country town, of course, full of interesting, nosey people all going about their busy lives.

Usual small town stuff!

But since becoming a city mouse as opposed to a country mouse I have made some surprising discoveries which, through ignorance or naivety, I find a bit shocking.

For years I have wondered how people can justify not recycling, being ecologically unconscious, shopping to support the local economy from local supermarket produce to artisan work, looking outward to considering the result of all their actions great and small, living as lightly as possible, and so on.

I had a garden so I grew fruit and veg, herbs, I composted, looked for alternative, sustainable ways to do things, recycled everything possible, reduced use of fossil fuels, water, resources, reused and repaired whenever possible, bought second hand clothes, cut down on wastage of every sort, you name it if I thought of it I did it.

Circumstances change and heck! but its an eye opener.

Firstly, choice of action is the prerogative of those who are not on the breadline. If you are so strapped for cash you can't think straight, you are going to buy the cheapest item regardless of where it came from or who made it- particularly food.

Secondly, living in a town insulates you from the consequences of your actions. If I leave a tap running I'm not going to go short of water because it is coming from the mains instead of a stream or well. Others may go short of water in the long term but there is no personal comeback on me. Ditto electricity.

If I fail to recycle, the bin men will collect my rubbish regardless; in fact recycling is a right hassle when you have no parking, live up three flights of stairs and the recycling banks are not in walking distance. And compost? Nowhere to put it except the landfill bin.

If I need something I can walk out and buy it, all I need is money in the bank. If it has unnecessary wrapping I drop it in a street bin as I walk past and once again someone else deals with it. There is absolutely nothing sustainable about my present way of living- I grow nothing and am dependant on shops for everything. Even the weather has very little impact upon a town dweller.

There are advantages to town: I use the car very little, I walk as much as possible, I don't have to shop for a month at a time as I can nip out for things as I need them, the proximity of buildings reduces my heating bill.

The end result, after ten months of town living, is the conviction that everything will carry on regardless of any of my eco-conscious practices and that nothing I do matters. In the country when you see the immediate result of mismanaging resources it seems that one's actions are important.
Perhaps each are wrong- I think it is irresponsible not to care and to carry on in a selfish manner, but I have to admit it is difficult to care when others obviously have no consideration for the environment and are happily living heedlessly with no obvious results. Perhaps living in the country gave me an inflated sense of my own importance, and perhaps living in the town has balanced that.

But in the end, if I take no responsibility for my actions because I feel no impact, than who will take responsibility for mankind's irresponsible acts? In the end as we are all paying I fear we will still be blaming other people for doing exactly what we are doing- which is nothing constructive.

Superficial living may ease ones conscience but it sure removes the impact of our actions.


Benta AtSLIKstitches said...

i hadn't thought of it like that, but yes, very true. what a pain not to have recycling bins though, i think here even flats have them, and compost bins too

Amanda said...

I think, like you, that it's good for the soul to do what we can, it makes us feel that we're 'doing our bit' even if it doesn't seem that important or as if we're changing anything. But certainly the amount of recycling that is going on does seem to have some effect, and look at how we've all stopped using aerosols. Little by little that came about, but it's certainly made a difference. So I reckon if we all do what we are able that's good.

Janice / Dancing with Sunflowers said...

I agree with your train of thought. I want to live in a sustainable way. We have separate recycling and non-recycling collections - alternate weeks. We have a compost heap and food waste that can't go on that is also taken by the council, every week. As a household we actually put very little out to landfill. For us, now, on the Isle of Wight, it has been made so easy that it is outrageous if people are not making that little bit of effort.
But there are some ways I know I can improve. Better food planning for one. I don't want to waste food, but sometimes we do.
And there are other ways that I'm frustrated we can't improve. We live in a throwaway society, to such an extent that electronic goods can no longer be repaired. You're supposed to buy a new one. And a few years ago, after a couple of years of trying to get a part for a sliding French window, we actually had to replace the entire window and frame. the original company had gone out of business and it was simply not possible to replace the tiny mechanism - a 2cm piece of engineering.
It sounds to me like your town could make some improvements to make rubbish / recycling more environmentally sound, instead of depending on the inhabitants to go out of their way to do it - which most people won't do.


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