I imagine I’m not the only person in the UK at the moment who is feeling overwhelmed by the state of EVERYTHING. Panicked even. Desperate. Disillusioned. Helpless.
Generations of capitalism and greed. Consume. Hoard. Waste.
I read this excellent article this morning by George Monbiot, who says many of the things I am thinking but expresses them far more articulately than I ever could. I recommend a read…. Dare To Declare Capitalism Dead – Before It Takes Us All Down With It
Measuring success of a society by its GDP, (increase in production, profits and wealth of the corporations and top 1%) is a non-sustainable and untrue measure of a society as a whole. How can we say we are developed and a wealthy, civilised nation when we are experiencing increases in child poverty and homelessness? How can we be seeing the rise of basic nutrition based and sanitation based illnesses? The divide between the few that we measure our success against and the reality of our nation as a whole is expanding exponentially. The rate at which we are consuming the resources of our planet far exceeds our speed of recycling, replacement and regrowth. Within 12 years we will reach a tipping point. Read the science.
Since the end of rationing after WW2, we have built our societies on entitlement. People demand and crave stuff, new stuff, replacement stuff, higher tech staff, faster stuff, flashier stuff. We spend spend spend. We create huge debt and deficits in our personal and national finances but more importantly we create huge deficits in our natural and planetary resources. We are using more than we are giving back. We are too lax at recycling; too slow at replanting; too disinterested in sharing. Our ‘managers’ are too apathetic We have been mis-sold needs. It’s all fake. Designed to control the populous and make the elite even more….elite. We are all brainwashed and the thought of managing without all that stuff is unthinkable. Look at your own house, whatever your financial status. How many TVs are there? Computer/laptop/tablets? Mobile phones? How many time-saving gadgets in your kitchen, garage etc? How recently were they replaced? What happened to the old ones? Look in your cupboards and closets. How many spare clothes do you have that have been worn once or never? How many of those gadgets you own do you actually use? How many plastic bottles and tubs do you have full or half full or the latest creams, lotions, potions?
We are all addicts. We are brainwashed in our consumerist society to believe that owning the latest, fastest, more expensive, branded, sexiest, gimmickiest whatevers will improve our lives, our health , our status. By slapping on those creams, driving that car, flashing that gadget , we’ll appear cooler, have more friends, open more doors to more riches….. We’re all sick. Addiction is an illness. And a serious one at that. Sadly, like with our support and treatment of addictions for the likes of drugs, alcohol and gambling, our society is not interested in investing in resources to combat and cure it.
I look at Extinction Rebellion alternately with hope and then despair. I admire and praise the organisers of these peaceful protests. I’m all for a spot of civil disobedience. As in history, it is only civil disobedience seems to work. (Take the suffragettes, equal pay strikes, miners strikes). Until the corporations and wealthy are actually affected in their pockets ,we , the masses, can sign petitions and moan all we like, but not one of them wants to be the first to say ‘hell yes, we don’t need to keep increasing our billions, we have enough cars, enough stuff, enough power; we don’t have to increase our profits , we need to plough that money into our planets salvation”. They, like us, are addicted. They’re in really deep though. Without some serious intervention and support they’ll never give up their drugs of choice. Power, money , possessions, status.
Yet we all have this addiction. Lets just look at the nay-sayers of the Extinction Rebellion. “Millennial”, they said, “all these protestors, each with their iPhone, mobile, camera; all eating fast food, drinking bottled water etc”. And it’s true to a degree. The latest of generations have really grown up wanting for very little. Our grandparents had no tech in their house. They cleaned by hand they didn’t have disposable nappies, time-saving gadgets and fast foods. Then along came radios, TVs and phones. Within a couple of generations every house had one of them. A couple more generations every person in every house had them. Nowadays, many people have several of them each. Cars came, then almost every household had one, these days every adult has at least one.
When we talk about saving our planet. We are talking about having to cure long-term addiction and brainwashing. We are talking about taking responsibility for our own individual wellbeing and fitness. We’re talking about making humans believe they do not need all this stuff that it is not the road to happiness and wellbeing. We need to stop craving and feeling entitled to unlimited possessions, holidays abroad, quick convenience. We need humans to believe that clean air, a roof, nutritious food and healthy oceans are the road to happiness and wellbeing. But the resistance is huge, we all have to be willing and able to try hard. The equivalent of all being willing to train hard enough to scale Mount Everest or reach the North Pole on foot. Yet most of us are couch potatoes and don’t even want to walk to school or the corner shop. That’s what we’re up against.
I so admire and am so grateful for the likes of Greta Thunberg and the many young adults and school aged children who are driving forward the movement for an ecologically sounder future ; but tackling and turning around the hardcore addicts: the CEOs, corporations; and political leaders all of whom are addicted to power, wealth and profit; that is going to be something nigh on impossible.
Yet, for my part I have joined the local Extinction Rebellion Groups; I have taken a vocal stance in opposing Capitalism and I have already changed a (very) few habits to reduce my carbon footprint; for example; I won’t have single use soaps and toiletries in our B&B for our guests; I almost never buy clothes and if I do they are very rarely brand new, and nearly always from charity shops or used items from eBay; no food gets wasted ( everything gets eaten even if it means a few weird suppers during the week 😉 ). I KNOW I CAN AND MUST DO MORE.
I finally realise that there are only two things we can do ALL do, as individuals;
- protest and be vocal – join your local rebellions, sign those petitions, write to our MPs, vote out the main parties and look at alternatives (I have a feeling the Greens will do really well in the next round of elections)
- walk the walk not just talk the talk. Consume less, waste less, own less.
My neighbour (a very wise man 😉 )commented on an XR post, saying, “.. it’s now up to all of us to make at least five pledges to be more environmentally friendly. Carry it out make a serious change… “.
I agree whole heartedly. Change has to begin at home and if those changes have a negative impact on greedy businesses who’s only concern is to maximise profit then all the better.
It’s tempting to choose easy things or things we’ve already embrace Eg: no bottled water ; no fast food; make do and mend; but that’s cheating, although I will aim to do even better at these things.
So, here are my (our, sorry, Hubby, these are household ) FIVE PLEDGES:
1. no more cling film or single use packaging. After I’ve used what’s in the house. I’m not sure what to use instead of bubble wrap but am sure I can find something (and I will continue to reuse any bubble wrap and the like that I should receive )
2. leave all excess packaging at the supermarket tills or send it back with the delivery driver if it’s an on-line shop. But if that’s not possible , then return it to them to dispose of on my next visit or in bulk by post (maybe we can have a community project with this for example for crisp packets?).
3. Boycott anything Nestles (who believe that “Water is not a Human Right”) and Starbucks
4. No more wet wipes for anything no matter how convenient – no make up wipes, no floor wipes , no surface wipes. Absolutely not
5. Replace 50% of my toiletries and cleaning products with more sustainable solutions by end of 2019…. that’s bamboo loo rolls, no more cotton buds, using shampoo bars rather than bottles, making some of my cleaning products, no more plastic washing up sponges and J-cloths for me. (do you know how long they take to biodegrade!!!) .
It’s not much but it’s a start. How about making 5 pledges of your own and sharing them here in the comments – Even one pledge will help, if you have more than 5 then go for it. ANNNND, feel free to plagiarise. You can nick my ideas, I’ll certainly be taking examples from you lot .