diamond geezer

 Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I can't be bothered to save the planet. Because it's too much effort, isn't it? I know there are lots of things I should be doing to protect our environment for future generations, but somehow I never quite get round to doing them. Sorry. Apologise to your grandchildren for me, won't you?

I did try slightly at the weekend when I visited the Mayor's Future London exhibition at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. It took a while to find the astro-turfed entrance round the rear of the building, but I was soon wandering around the vast whitewashed first floor, curtained off into a series of interconnected spaces. Several of the displays spread their content rather thinly, but the emphasis stayed the right side of preaching throughout. And everywhere, questions. Why don't you compost your rubbish? Why don't you buy locally-produced food? Why don't you try car-sharing? All the messages seemed very worthy at the time, but there were rather too many to remember and so I left not quite signed up to anything in particular. If the other 7 million Londoners are like me, the capital is doomed.

So, with the aid of the the free leaflet that accompanies the exhibition, I've decided to shame myself into revealing 10 of the things I'm not doing to save the planet. But I have an excuse for each, see if I don't. They're damned good excuses too. And all highly valid, I'm sure you'll agree.

Home and Energy

1) Leave no appliance on standby: Look, I do at least switch off my TV overnight, so it's usually only on standby during the evening. I would turn off my hi-fi when I'm not using it but I'd have to walk across the room to reach the switch. And surely I don't have to unplug my mobile phone charger for the 164 hours a week when it's not being used - it can't be using up much power if any can it?
2) Use low energy lighting: But I have perfectly functioning ordinary light bulbs thanks. Maybe I'll upgrade them when each one blows. Although the energy saving bulbs are a lot more expensive aren't they? I know they save more in the long term, but it never feels like a good deal up front.
3) Reduce your flush: At the exhibition I picked up one of those magic bags of chemicals that you're supposed to drop into your cistern where it inflates and reduces capacity. Except, well, you know, sometimes even normal capacity isn't quite enough to flush away everything, is it? So if I reduced my flush, I'd surely end up having to reflush more often, and that would be wasteful.
4) Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth: I know I ought to do that, but it's so much hassle isn't it? Because you can't brush your teeth with the tap off, can you? It has to be on at the beginning, and you have to turn it back on again to rinse, and again and again to re-rinse. It's all too impractical (or just too much effort).
5) Recycle your rubbish: My local council is one of the worst in the country at encouraging recycling. If they have any plans for doorstep collections, nobody's informed me about them. There are some communal recycling bins a few minutes walk away, but every time I turn up with a pile of newspapers I find the bin's already full to overflowing. So what's the point?

6) Eat organic: I'm sure it would be much better for me to eat knobbly vegetables and genetically unmodified fruit, and better for the over-fertilised environment too. But it costs far more than normal processed food. And it tastes odd (which probably means it tastes 'real', but I'm not used to real). And to buy it you have to travel miles to yuppie-infested farmers' markets and haggle with bearded ladies. And nobody yet sells organic KitKats.
7) Reduce your food miles: Yes, I know that my last meal probably travelled the equivalent of five times round the globe to reach my plate, destroying the atmosphere in a fog of carbon, but until they print "Food Miles" on the front of every ready-meal I refuse to waste time in the supermarket using an atlas and a ruler.
8) Grow your own food: There's not enough space on my balcony to grow root vegetables or trail a strawberry plant, even if I wanted to. And my balcony never gets any sun anyway. Although I am now self-sufficient in bay leaves, for all the good that does me.

9) Cycle everywhere: I'm sorry, but even though cycling might be good for my general fitness, in London it's also verging on the suicidal. What's the point in having rippling thigh muscles if you're lying underneath the wheels of a bendy bus?
10) Buy a hybrid fuel car: Except who in London needs a car? I haven't got one. I take public transport everywhere, and I walk a lot. And I keep my thermostat down low, and I never boil too much water in my kettle, and I try not to buy so much food I have to throw half of it away. So maybe I'm not doing too badly after all. Hell, who am I kidding? Sorry.

• The Future London exhibition (Truman Brewery 8-16 Sept, Science Museum 25 Sept - 1 Oct)
• The Future London website (it's a bit like visiting the real exhibition, only slower)

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