Wednesday, 15 July 2009

From Material Girl to Eco Warrior

I am a child of the ‘60’s who still looks back on the ‘80’s as her glory days. I worked in London and for the advertising agency that worked on the BMW account (amongst other things). I used to joke, although it doesn’t sound so funny now, that I changed my car when it needed washing. We got a new one every six months. It seems impossible now, when I happily drive a car for 10 years, but back then it was part of a heady lifestyle that I took to like a duck to sparkling water.

I guess I’m a pretty unlikely eco-warrior.

But I have to admit I have become increasingly focused on environmental issues. To some degree it’s inescapable: the newspapers are full of it. Yet to many it’s still “someone else’s problem”. And perhaps to me too, after all it’s a big shift in thinking – moving away from the “I-can-use-up-and-wear-out-what-I-like-so-long-as-I-can-just-about-afford-it” mentality.

To be honest, my thinking is changing kind of slowly. My car is still too useful not to drive whenever I want. I am more aware of the price of petrol, and how many miles I can drive on a tankful, but as long as I can afford the petrol it is still pretty much an academic exercise. It’s only when I stop making semi-necessary journeys that I can really say that I am on the first rung of being a trainee eco-warrior.

I’m also slowly becoming more aware of the real cost of the stuff I buy. Changing my thinking away from just its price tag, to considering the raw materials that go into it, producing the thing, me using it and then disposing of it. Cars, computers, even my beloved books, all have energy costs to them that I wasn’t really aware of before.

The government publishes their strategy for moving us towards a low carbon economy today. Their introductory paragraph is heartening – they suggest that low carbon living might actually create a better kind of society, and a stronger, more sustainable economy. When compared to the throw-away lifestyles we have become used to, that has to make sense.

So Material Girl turns Eco Warrior ….


  1. I have to admit that I am enjoying the benefits of now driving a greener car. I downsized for financial reasons to a car that does 70MPG and has very low emissions. I'm enjoying the financial benefits of this car and feel a bit smug when I see other cars spewing out fumes and drinking fuel, particularly 4 four wheel drives.

    But the reality is that we will probably all be driving cars like this in 20 years time or less. The I will have to take to my bike to maintain the 'feel green factor' I have now!

  2. Wow - 70 mpg - is it a hybrid? Are you driving further or just enjoying your smaller carbon footprint? I think you are right that the roads will look (and smell) very different in a few years' time. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to wean people off their Jags and Mercs ....