Monday, October 23, 2006

Green, greener, greenest

Mary at A Breath of Air has blogged rather provocatively about her quandry over attending the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition now on at the Natural History Museum in London.

The exhibition looks amazing, and as Mary says, supporting the idea, the artists, the campaigners is definitely a reason to get down there and fork out the exhibition entry fee ... but, there is the not-small matter of the fact that the competition is sponsored by Shell. She reports that there have been protests over their selection as exhibition sponsor, due to their environmental record. For Mary this presents a quandry. Does her visit tacitly endorse selection, imply approval, say on some level "hey, you guys ain't so bad"? I have to be honest, it might not have occurred to me to question it if she hadn't pointed it out. Which probably says more about my ability to just gloss over such issues than it does my lack of concern for the planet.

I think it's so hard ... on the one hand, they're clearly shafting the planet. On the other hand, in order for people, groups, companies, nations to change we have to believe they have the capacity to change. Even my dog requires this space to learn new behaviours - requires my recognition that my expectations are part of the pattern too.

Are Shell genuinely concerned about their impact on the planet or are they just concerned to appear concerned? Does the end result outweigh the motivation? Do I, as an individual, do enough of the easy, tiny things each day that would make a difference? If I find it so easy to buy a drink in a plastic bottle, to take my car to the supermarket, to buy avocados that have clearly arrived by air ... how do I judge others?

I do pretty well - we only throw out half a black-bag of non-recyclables to the refuse collection each week. We compost, we recycle, we feed the chickens on scraps and make their bedding out of (hand) shredded paper. But I have a bigger car in order to accommodate my dog. I try to drive it at sixty rather than eighty to save fuel, but I still drive it. I switch the lights off, don't leave the TV on standby, but I still fill my life with electricity gobbling gadgets. I still buy clothes that were made in far off lands. I shop in stores that sell things cheaply and push away the nagging questions about how much the people who made these goods were paid. I freecycle but I still have more than I need.

Looks like a great exhibition anyway ... not sure I can resist :)


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Blogger Mary said...

Wow. Terrific post. Thanks for developing the idea so well, Stray. And for throwing the question back at me. Am I doing everything I can? And maybe my potential crusading has to begin there in my own backyard ... my Achilles heel are the air-delivered avocados and similar.

Absolutely, support new behaviours by Shell or anyone else. And I may end up giving them the benefit of the doubt and go. My nasty suspicious mind just wonders if it isn't successful PR. The fact too that I am a longtime supporter of FoE, who seem to be doing most of the protesting, has had to give me pause.

Truth is,I don't think there is a perfect solution here ...

23 October, 2006 18:32  
Blogger fiona said...

I dont think theres a perfect solution either. All we can do is our best, and we are. The motivation for consumption is survival and we are surviving, are we not? As best we can. Large companies can sometimes be trusted, though its certain that questions like "are they concerned or just concerned to appear concerned" will probably never be answered. mmm, avocados.

23 October, 2006 20:07  
Blogger Bitterroot said...

Do I, as an individual, do enough of the easy, tiny things each day that would make a difference?

This is very well put. I struggle with the same question daily. It's not just them, it's all of us!!

23 October, 2006 20:39  

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