September 28, 2008
Last week I received a card from Royal Mail informing me that since I wasn't home (which I was) I would have to go to the post office to pick up a package. How exciting. A surprise gift.
I woke up the following morning to get there early. Anticipation was high. What could it be? Energy saving light bulbs from British Gas.
Do they send these out to every single customer who has electricity? Or just those they suspect have a disastrous carbon footprint. Also it must cost them money. I'd rather they lower my bill and I'll buy my own light bulbs.
A few days later, a friend was visiting. He entered my kitchen and saw the light bulbs still sitting in the box. Then he saw a roll of paper towels.
He looked at me like I was Osama Bin Laden.
"Don't you care about the planet?"
Of course I care. I recycle. I turn off the tap when I brush my teeth. And I walk everywhere. I don't own a car or a house and I've never flown in a private jet. Can John Travolta say that?
Last year there were over 300,000 private jet flights in and out of London. I wasn't on one of them. I don't know what my carbon footprint is but I bet it's lower than Al Gore's. And yet, if I ask for a plastic bag at Waitrose, I'm made to feel I'm personally responsible for killing the polar bears.
Why is it the most disapproving looks at the checkout come from mothers who have baby buggies and four-wheel drive Porsche Carrera's idling outside with the nanny at the wheel?
I feel bad that maybe I'm not doing enough. But then it occurred to me - I'm doing more than most. I'm not having children. That's about as environmentally friendly as it gets. Putting less people on earth does far more to prevent global warming than buying organic blueberries.
Not washing nappies at home or using a nappy washing service means I'm conserving water and electricity.
Also, children love baths. They get very dirty. It takes gallons of water to fill a tub. No children, no drought.
There's no car-pooling to school, no eight-hour return journeys to the country house every weekend, no bicycles or tricycles, which means less factory production emissions, less packaging, distribution costs and less landfill as they grow out of them every three months. No driving from one shopping mall to another to find the Barbie dream house, which is definitely not biodegradable.
And holiday flights. I won't have to cut back on flights to Disneyland since I'll never have to go.Moreover, children drink milk and can grow up to eat meat. Cows, pigs, and sheep are a huge source of methane gas. Plus transporting animals uses water and fuel - think of all the energy it takes to get that protein to the supermarket. Even worse, they could grow up to be meat-eating millionaires. Taking a Gulfstream jet to Paris for steak frites.
Less consumption of food, less bottled water, less tumble drying, less polystyrene cups, and plastic knives, forks and spoons. Less iPods, digital cameras and laptops. Not to mention the tons of toilet paper I'm saving.
Moreover, not only am I protecting the environment, but I'm protecting innocent people from coming into a world that is being destroyed. Why show them the Grand Canyon only to follow with, "And one day it will all be gone." How cruel is that? I'm not just an environmentalist, but a humanitarian too.
Of course, this is all subject to change. I could meet someone tomorrow, have children, and my carbon footprint will become the size of a sasquatch. Although chances are, that's not going to happen. I'm more likely to adopt. Adopting a child is a form of recycling, right?