OK, maybe the Green wave ended up lapping gently against the shore and didn’t sweep away all before it. I must admit to having a grudging respect for the first places to buck the green trend.
You know those local election areas that just elected Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors with such a two fingers to the environment, you had to laugh. You’d wonder why they bothered opening up the ballot boxes at all. They’d just know from the weight of the box.
“There wouldn’t be much into the kombucha around here now.” There might be the odd tinfoil-hat looper who thinks the place is being run by George Soros. But equally “there wouldn’t be much call for the likes of George Soros around here. Shur even the post office closed.”
Regardless of the final vote tally, this time it feels different. It’s not just about recycling the newspapers and putting plastic in the new bins in Lidl. It’s not like the ozone layer hole. Do you remember that? Oh for life to be so simple again.
Don’t throw your fridge over a ditch, check your Silvikrin to make sure it doesn’t have CFCs and bingo, the hole closes up like something being fixed at the end of Captain Planet. That was how we viewed bad things happening to the environment before. Identifiable villains like Duke Nukem pouring sludge into a rainforest? Get the Planeteers with their magic rings.
But now it turns out… we’re the bad guy? Not just us as individuals, but the systems we vote for and live in. Our throwaway culture, our insistence on new stuff, our pensions which have to grow at 2% every year just to keep us in cords and cardigans and pay for our thyroid and diabetes tablets and nursing homes when we’re old, our, our… it kind of looks like every single thing we do is just a big pile of stink.
So everything has to change. We live on a planet of finite size. It’s not getting any bigger. If we grow at 2% ever year that means doubling every 36 years. Where do you get the extra from? It’s not from converting the attic.
OK, so we have to change everything. I’m up for that. I can definitely consume less clothes. I’m a 41-year-old male with poor body image. Excluding underpants, I reckon I probably only need four more items of clothing until my dotage and then I start going to M&S for the cardies and cords. I LOVE the possibility of a sort of austerity of STUFF. I’m also heading for peak Dad, so over-elaborate thrift and notions about ‘value for money’ are just around the corner.
Doesn’t our current economy depend on us having no sense whatsoever? Like, if big things need to change, I’m here for it. I just wonder what ‘it’ is? Is it completely revolutionary?
Is it mainly about consumption? Most of the worst pointless consumption appears to be in the last few decades. So we should try and go back to the 90s? In theory this shouldn’t be too hard anyway since half our GDP seems to be based on nostalgia.
So fewer flights, fewer stupid takeaway hot drinks, fewer stupid plastic-wrapped salads, fewer toys, fewer charity fundraising treks to Macchu Piccu, fewer individually wrapped wedding favours, more chicken and less steak at gala balls.
Paying more for everything that we consume so that we end up spending more time just plain bored. And possibly a little less full. I’m genuinely interested— what will the future look like when we stop growing and consuming as much?
Will we be poorer but happier, or thinking we’ve been transported back to Italia 90 without Big Jack? Will we be nostalgic for now or mad we didn’t start sooner?