This post is part of our Smug Money opinion series
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so
Rewind three years. Eco was fringe. Back in its Glastonbury leftie box of do-gooders trying too hard.
Now, here, in 2018, thanks to Elon Musk, David Attenborough and that weird alchemy of social factors that no one can quite put their finger on, green is good again.
It’s in the “Overton Window”. Not only is green good, it is accepted by everyone, regardless of income status, political leaning or musical taste.
And not only is it good and accepted by everyone, it is also easier than ever.
I mean I know it’s not easy easy. If it was, we wouldn’t still be worrying about carbon emissions and plastic in the sea.
But recycling your plastic, glass and cardboard? Well, although this depends on where you live and how your council handles waste, it’s basically easy. Buying an electric vehicle? Sure, it requires research and education on the different types, charge ranges etc and getting your home fitted with a charge point, but these days? Basically as easy as buying any petrol or diesel car, if slightly more expensive still. Although some of the older models, such as the Prius or older Leaf models, are cost-competitive.
Insulating and draught-proofing your home? Well, there are easy ways you can do this and more costly, structural measures you can take. But one phone call to a home energy efficiency expert and you are on the road to a less energy-leaky home.
Switching to a green energy tariff for your gas and electricity? OMG SO easy. The newer suppliers are super tech and will have you transferred in a jiffy. It’s one tap in an app.
It’s easy to buy organic food and go veggie or vegan, thanks to an explosion of reasonably priced ranges at supermarkets.
It’s getting easier to buy products that are not made of plastic, such as bamboo toothbrushes, metal drinking cups for children and metal or cardboard straws.
It’s getting easier to buy clothes from normal high street shops that are made from organic materials, by people paid a proper wage. H&M, H&M, H&M.
It’s getting easier to arrange your personal finances so that your money only goes to sustainable businesses, via your bank account (ie. Triodos) or your savings, pension and investments – check out the list of Good Egg firms here.
It’s still hard to avoid plastic packaging unless you have the time to source all your shopping from box deliveries such as Riverford and Abel & Cole and farm shops. And that only covers fresh food – not the myriad other things we buy – toys, household cleaning products, etc, that also come wrapped and boxed in toxic stuff.
It’s still hard to avoid driving if you live somewhere with poor public transport, although buying a bike and taking some cycling proficiency lessons may help you with short solo journeys.
It’s still hard to install renewable energy measures to your home unless you have the right roof, the right amount of space, and the right amount of money, as these can be costly.
Despite how much easier a greener life is becoming, a view persists that this is insurmountable, that we are doomed, and that’s a terribly demotivating belief which can have even the most spirited campaigners curled up under the duvet.
A lot of scientists think we are doomed – the science currently points to a very damaging 4 degrees celsius global temperature rise before the end of this century if we don’t change our ways. The battle is to try and get it to 1.5 celsius but failing that, to stop it rising higher than 2. The window of hope is closing on 1.5 degrees, particularly at the rate of change in global energy use revealed by the latest global renewable energy use study, but it won’t be shattered completely for another four years.
So now is not the time for the duvet. Now is the time to take advantage of the increasing easiness and availability; the awareness and willingness of those companies that sell us stuff to make some changes.
We have to use some psychology on ourselves. If we think going green is hard, it will be hard. If we think we are doomed, we will doom ourselves. If we think it is easy, it will be easy. If we believe there is hope, there is hope.
Note David Attenborough’s use of “optimistic” in this Sky interview, but then how that optimism is contingent on the “stronger recognition” of all of us. Going back to that Hamlet quote: “There is nothing either good or bad, But thinking makes it so”.
We often talk about the benefits of positive thinking for ourselves as individuals, but rarely apply that same positivity to global society. There’s a kind of idea that we can at least help our own state of mind, even if the outside world is a mess. It’s time for us all to apply the logic of individual positive thinking to the environment.