a girl’s guide to the environment

Let’s face it, we could all do better.

by Bertie Brandes
25 April 2018, 9:25am

Still from The Wild Thornberrys

Perspective is really hard to come by. While I grind my teeth over which glossier product to buy next (sunblock; there’s a hole in the ozone layer), the planet continues to swell up like an angry pimple jabbed by the greasy finger of mankind. It’s a worry but like, it’s not keeping me awake at night if I’m honest. Anyway, we all sort of know about it don’t we? The weather is great, but the world is largely trash. So, how do we begin to care about global warming in a way which isn’t entirely performative or just fundamentally crusty? This guide is here to help. First off, we need to pick a comfortable position (political, not physical). Then we need to figure out how to do anything remotely useful, if that’s even possible when you live in a dystopian fever dream where chocolate chip pancakes, hand jobs and the entire works of Tolstoy are always just fingerprint recognition away. Short of fishing drowning animals out of burst rivers it’s hard to imagine doing anything directly useful, but you know, nothing else to do but try. Here are some ideas on how to start.

Stop kidding yourself that it’s ok to not care
While there’s obviously factual truth to the argument that whatever happens the world itself will be fine and it’s just every living thing on its surface that won’t, I personally am not thrilled about being responsible for the extinction of millions of animals nor standing by to watch natural disasters wipe out countries in order of which has the poorest infrastructure. Yes, you’ll probably be dead by the time the sea burns white with oil and the prophetic concrete stones of our capital cities lie buried under mud slides and yes that will eventually happen regardless of whether you wash that bean tin out and recycle it. But ultimately, if you’re in a position to not throw more junk on the junk piles surrounding the incredibly comfortable microcosm of the world we call home, I just don’t really think there’s a convincing argument as to why you would.

Understand who is directly affected by climate change
We have a habit of placing victims of climate change firmly in the future, happy to leave that drama to our kids’ kids, who’ll be doggy paddling through tidal waves while our ashes float peacefully around them. Mistake. Back in 2016 Black Lives Matter protesters made the point that climate change is very much a racist issue, shutting down the runway at London City Airport. Their argument is that while Britain is the biggest contributor per capita to global temperature change, it is also one of the least vulnerable to the effects. Actually, over half of the 10 most vulnerable countries happen to be in sub-Saharan Africa. Basically, we’re really fucking up other people’s shit and surprise surprise, those people are not white. If you’re a self-proclaimed SJW then you really ought to know this already.

Slogan T-shirts probably aren’t the answer
This one goes without saying but the trend for wearing basic bitch politics emblazoned upon your chest just doesn’t seem to be dying. What tends to happen is that in order to distil the issue down enough to fit across a human body while still being legible to the rest of the public, the designer has to leave out -- like -- a lot of the details. For example, feminism has now been boiled down to the beautifully concise and fundamentally meaningless “Woman Power”. Environmental issues are suffering a similar fate. Whether or not T-shirts have the ability to agitate change is really up for debate, but let me tell you one thing for sure, any clothing that does will absolutely not originate from sweatshops in countries where the water supplies have been poisoned by the colour stain from your leather wallet. Instead, why not make a conscious effort to resell and recycle clothing. Organise swaps and sales with your friends at the end of each season and put some titty pics on Depop to peak your followers’ attention. Pre-worn is the new Primark, you heard it here first.

Recycle your food
I’m going to go ahead and assume you already recycle your plastic and cardboard and stuff because it’s hard to imagine anyone under 40 who doesn’t get PTSD from watching people shove packaging straight into their main bin. There’s really no excuse for not doing it, this is like level one argument with your parents at Christmas shit. But there’s more you can be doing on a daily basis too ok. Recycle your food, yup, compost it. I know it’s gross to have a sweaty bag of food in your kitchen but a) just empty it instead of leaving it to fester and b) it’s really lovely to feel that every time you make a cup of coffee you’re fertilising something yummy for a slug to eat in the future. Stop buying bottled water as if you don’t know it isn’t the worst fucking thing you couldn’t possibly waste your miniscule amount of disposable income on. Getting yourself into the mind frame of living sustainably is only going to help you to feel more responsible for and connected to the world around you.

Ok cherubs I believe in you, I hope this was at least 10 percent as convincing as those dumb Netflix films that make everyone vegan for two weeks. Just remember the earth is beautiful and we did absolutely nothing to deserve it. Enjoy nature, swim in the sea, let love in. xxxo

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