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GOING GREEN REALLY IS AN AWESOME UNDERTAKING

PUBLISHED: 16:56 05 September 2007 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 September 2010

Going Green is a great idea but it has one awesome drawback: the more you read about saving the planet, the more powerless you feel. Every responsible citizen wants to reduce their carbon footprint, but after an hour on the internet, my personal footprint

Going Green is a great idea but it has one awesome drawback: the more you read about saving the planet, the more powerless you feel.

Every responsible citizen wants to reduce their carbon footprint, but after an hour on the internet, my personal footprint seemed less significant in the grand scheme of things than a grain of sand in the Sahara Desert.

After a modicum of research, it doesn't take long for the truth to dawn - it's big business and political powerhouses that can make the difference, and they won't. They'd much rather send the rest of us on an ecological guilt trip, shamed that we haven't done enough in our insignificant little lives to save the planet.

It's enough to make you think you're being suckered, more eco-chump than eco-champ.

No wonder hundreds of demonstrators - Camden Council's own frustrated eco-ambassador included - set up camp to protest at the building (with government approval of course) of another runway at Heathrow. The new strip of tarmac will enable it to process even more than the 68 million passengers a year it currently handles, while helping its 90 airlines to break the 500,000 barrier for flights taking off and landing in a single year.

Just one airport in just one city. The mind boggles.

Soon market forces will dictate that everything is made in China. When it does, how will all that stuff get here? Who will tell China to stop? Which of the big manufacturing companies will do their bit by making stuff in their own back yard, even though it will cost them more to produce?

These and countless other issues torment me as I make a mental note not to leave the DVD player on stand-by while I catch the bus to purchase my everlasting lightbulbs. No prizes for guessing where they were made.

q Speaking of public transport, Alicia Crisp from Highgate sent an interesting email about travelling by bus in Rwanda, where she had teamed up with her mother Sue, working there as a temporary educational advisor during the summer:

''The buses are quite old and the petrol fumes waft inside. This is mixed with a decided whiff of body odour - deodorant is just too expensive for most people here to use. For some reason I don't understand, Rwandans insist on keeping all bus windows closed and so the air becomes unpleasant.

''Rather than opening the windows to clear the air and keep cool and sitting up to look at the horizon, everyone who feels sick sits with their head between their legs.

And so the vomiting begins, sometimes in bags but more frequently on the floor.

''So now you have the petrol fumes, the body odour and the smell of sick mixed together in a hot bus with no fresh air - of course anyone who wasn't ill previously is now also feeling sick. Fantastic experience!''

I'll never complain about London buses again.

Geoff Martin, editor, Ham&High Series.

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