Pistachio, pea or bottle?
by Alex C – Frugi Customer & Crusader
Let’s start with a confession. I’m pseudo-green. I may have a green veneer, and my friends think I’m British Racing, but underneath it all, I’m what Dulux might call ‘Hint of Apple’.
Oh, I use cloth nappies. I grow a lot of my own veg. My organic veggie box comes from a farmer just up the road, and I buy my organic meat from my local butcher. My little boy is still breastfed, despite being 15 months old, and (oh yes) I spend quite a bit of money on expensive organic clothing from Frugi, rather than the perfectly serviceable stuff from Primark.
But (and don’t tell anyone) it’s all a sham. I don’t do these things out of concern for the planet. It’s a combination of laziness and guilt with a little dollop of mother’s pride (no, not the bread) that drives me on.
Let’s take cloth nappies. If I was truly green, I would use nappies made from a sustainable natural fibre which doesn’t need pesticides to grow well. Bamboo and hemp both fit the bill. I’d select those made in the UK, or at least in Europe, to reduce the air miles and my carbon footprint. I’d wash them at 40 degrees, perhaps with a tiny amount of eco-friendly non-bio and some vinegar. They’d be dried on the line, of course.
Do I do this? Um…..well no. Poor old Oliver has finest quality oil-dependent polyester on his bum, dyed lurid colours, probably using carcinogenic azo dyes, by Mexicans who are probably on the minimum wage. The nappies are then sent to the US, then to the UK, then to me. They’ve seen more of the world than their owner ever has.
But – and here’s the thing – I USE them. They are easy. They fit well. They wash well (though I insist on another eco-crime of a 60 degree cycle and some Persil). They dry in a matter of minutes, either outside, on the radiator or (tut tut) in the tumble dryer. They don’t give Oli a rump the size of a small planet, so he doesn’t need special trousers.
And on the subject of clothing, Oli is usually clad in second-hand clothes from an NCT nearly new sale (if you’re a parent who’s never been to one of these – GO!). I tell myself this is eco-friendly – after all, these clothes might have ended up in landfill – but I do wonder if this is outweighed by the fact that some of these second hand bargains are undoubtedly made by children in sweatshops in the Far East from fibres which have been drenched in chemicals. Frugi gear is a bit different, of course – organic cotton and fairly paid workers, though they’re still in India. Nice though that is, it’s the fact the stuff needs little or no ironing that makes it attractive – my laziness again.
Life is a balancing act. Being green in one way often means sacrificing green-ness in another. I went on holiday recently – a flight (boo!) albeit a short one. Did I take cloth nappies along? No – I wasn’t going to spend my time handwashing them in gallons of water. Did I take the more environmentally friendly disposables along? Well no; I reasoned it would have increased the emissions from the aircraft too much, not to mention maxed out our baggage allowance. I bought Pampers once we arrived, and mentally flogged myself all week.
I could go on. I breastfeed because it’s cheap and convenient, not because it’s eco-sound. My organic veggie box is delivered because I can’t be bothered to lug potatoes around the shops. In short, I am a fraud.
But underneath my pseudo-green veneer, there may, just possibly, be a redeeming feature. It’s not a big one, but it’s this: I try to think. I don’t always do what I should, but when I commit one of my frequent eco-sins, I stand in a corner and think about what I’ve done! It doesn’t always stop me doing the same thing again, of course, but one day, when the angel on my shoulder has pricked my conscience yet again, it just might.
So who knows, there may just be a deep green core in this hint of apple!
Alex C – Frugi Customer & Crusader