Eco… all the rage these days isn’t it? Eco this, eco that, sustainable, renewable, recyclable, carbon neutral, offset, dolphin friendly, 1% for the planet goodness. We’re forever hearing stories of how corporations are planting forests in mass cathartic CSR* campaigns in attempt to cleanse themselves of years of dumping by-product sewage into old ladies’ back gardens and clearing football pitches worth of rainforest without even putting up any goalposts.
Don’t get me wrong, companies that ‘give something back’ are doing a damn good thing. Also, from an employee’s point of view, there’s nothing quite like being sent on a jolly to Borneo for a sponsored litter pick because it makes the company report look more colourful. Unfortunately, on both a corporate and social level the Western world is like a Catholic priest obsessively donating to Save the Children after an altercation with a choirboy in the 80s.
Over the last 30 years society has become more aware of the finite nature of our planet and its natural resources. Consequently the eco-evangalism industry has boomed. I, like many others, gasped as Al Gore talked us through the end of the world in ‘An Inconvenient Truth’**, climbing his ladder to show us exactly how far greenhouse gas emissions are going to hump the ozone layer. Remember when everyone had to stop using spray deodorant to prevent that fractious gaseous membrane from degrading completely? Thank heaven for roll-ons. Roll on the noughties and you can now even buy consumer eco guilt relief whenever you book a flight, directly paying for your fuel to ‘offset’ your effect on the planet and also help offset the airline’s worries over not making decent profit.
Unfortunately there are two rather sooty elephants in the eco-awareness clinic waiting room. With exports to the Western world flying out like hotcakes, China and India lost the ‘save the planet’ memo in a pile of orders. As we in the West became conscious of the affects of our years of neglect, our Eastern neighbours had only just got their looms really churning. We had an industrial revolution and gave a few people the black lung and they’ll be damned if they’re not going to do the same. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. With a power station going up in China every 3-4 days it’s going to take a lot of very eco-conscious purchases to combat that level of pollution. However, as Tesco tell us incessantly ‘Every little helps’.