Saturday, 28 March 2009

earth hour

Tonight, at 8.30pm, we are all encouraged to switch off our lights. This is a symbolic gesture of protest against what is happening to the planet, and is intended as an international wave from the earth, something like a Mexican wave in reverse I suppose, as the lights go out around the world as each country reaches 8.30 pm.

I will be supporting this, and have encouraged others to do so too, but it can only be valuable if it has a longer term impact, at a personal, national and international level.

At a personal level, I grew up with parents who were perhaps ahead of their time, but it infuriated me at the time. They switched off everything if it was not in use, they conserved everything, reused everything, rescued everything that might be of use, ate an excess of lentils. The war had an enormous impact on them which was long lasting. Thus, I have an awareness of how right it is to take care of our world, but a bit of me has also rebelled against this abstemiousness. The devilish temptation to leave lights on because I can, to eat sweet things because I can, buy something new because I can (not that I can afford to at present!), just sometimes takes over. And I am 52! I am still going through their things, six years after my mother died, and sending them off to the charity shops.

I try to do a little. I send my used stamps off dutifully to Oxfam as I always have. I rarely throw anything away that could be used again or sent somewhere that someone else could make use of it. Running a guest house, I need it to look welcoming to potential guests, so do keep the outside light on and the hall light on into the evening, but we do turn others off if we are not in the room. We reuse, recycle, reduce our purchases, I always have tended to, despite that little devil, I suppose it really is a tiny, shrinking devil who surfaces less and less!

On a national and international level, the picture seems bleak to me at present. Even there, small changes could be effected without too much trauma. Although churches and public buildings look lovely floodlit, do they need to be lit so much, for so long? The Peak Oil situation, see is alarming in the extreme. The local response, the setting up of Transition Towns, is a positive way for people to take some control over what happens, before control is taken out of our hands, as it must eventually be if no changes are made.

The current financial crisis may be good for the planet. We are all more careful with what we do, what we buy, I suspect the amount of rubbish going to landfill is decreasing. I am a huge supporter of Freecycle, and am one of the 'owners' (daft term, I do not own it!) of the Wadebridge site.

One thing I do not like is the tendency to out 'green' each other. I am sure I am guilty of it, but I do try not to fall into this trap. We all do what we can, well, most of us do, but there is always someone who will criticise our efforts and have to do it better. There are so many contradictions, so much to learn that seems full of jargon, it can be almost impossible to know what to do for the best. I guess though, that this has been the case throughout history and it is only hindsight that will tell us what we should have done.

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