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Climate change hypocrisy

February 14, 2020

On this Valentine’s Day, we think about love for people. I think about love for the environment.

I believe that we are in the middle of the Anthropocene and I feel like a climate change hypocrite.

A few years ago we bought a second car.

Our family takes part in a very climate-heavy activity. We all play ringette, my kid plays hockey and I coach both. We travel a lot back and forth to the arena – pretty much every day of the week.

Not gonna lie: I enjoy long showers now and then.

In Finland it’s kinda hard to avoid plastic, in fact, it’s damn near impossible.

I travel, though because of financial constraints and my involvement in ice sports, that has been pared down big time. The last time I flew anywhere was in 2018. I don’t foresee doing that again for another year or two. Yes, I do think about flight shame – and I did support the citizen’s initiative for a flight tax in Finland.

Occasional food waste: yes, not gonna lie about that either. In my house, however, I am the queen of creating good meals out of leftovers.

The one thing I am nearly always conscious about is where my produce is from. If it comes from anywhere outside of Europe, I rarely buy it.

Has palm oil in it? It stays on the shelf. But that in itself is a whole other issue. Avoiding products with palm oil is also very difficult these days. Some of my favourite chocolate brands tout their sustainable cocoa, but they use palm oil… I will be calling them out on that.

What am I doing otherwise to mitigate my impact?

Our house is heated with electricity, but we also have a fire place. We never turn on all of the electric heaters in the winter, in fact we haven’t turned the one on in our bedroom at all since we moved in (nicer for sleeping). I am a bit of an ultra nut when it comes to turning off lights and unplugging stuff that is not being used. We moved into a bigger house a few years back and it has been interesting to observe how much electricity we have used compared to the people who lived in the house before us. We have used significantly less. We also use a lot less water than our neighbours do.

New clothes? Not really. I buy new underwear and socks (as needed) and have bought new outdoor pants, jackets and shoes because my old stuff has worn out. Right now I will do my best to wear what I have until it wears out. It’s great that chains like H&M and Lindex take back old clothes (and shoes) in the capital region (they have deposit boxes near their cashiers). I also make sure that old towels and bed sheets are forwarded on to animal hospitals where they can always use those kinds of things.

Since I moved here over 20 years ago, the amount of consumption has exploded. I feel like people went into overdrive when they finally had more money to spend at the change of the millennium. And it seems to have continued unabated until just recently. We can take hope from the fact that the second-hand economy is doing well in Finland. These days I find I am mostly spending my money on food and not much else, gas for my car and fees for sports activities… except when the Miss needs new sports equipment (which thankfully isn’t so often anymore because she has stopped growing like a weed).

The squirrels are great at planting acorns in our yard, so instead of cutting down those oak trees, I have replanted them near our house. Some of them are doing okay, but the erratic weather has been hard on them in the last couple of years.

We recycle virtually everything that we can. I have talked about that awhile back in previous blog entries. The HSY website dedicated to information about recycling has improved a lot. Kierätys.info is also a very useful website.

What is heartening to see is the reception to plastic recycling over the last few years. Now that there are bins for recycling, they are often full. Let’s hope that that the infrastructure for sorting, recycling and reusing that plastic in Finland is a fruitful one. Better yet, avoiding plastic and single-use items is another big step we can take.

Global climate change is a real fear of mine. Yet, at the end of the day my main concern is pollution. The amount of garbage, plastic and cigarette butts that get tossed into my local environment is shocking at best. I spend a lot of effort picking it up. I pick up hundreds of cigarette butts a week… But for every butt I pick up, it’s one less butt that a bird will mistake for food, one less butt an animal or a bird might use to make its nest, and less butts that end up in our waterways. If there one thing I can make a direct change, it is by battling the litterbugs and butt tossers.

Very few people have ever inquired about it. Although lately the comments have come from a few people. Last fall I ran into a young guy said he was so happy to see that someone cares enough to clean up… An older couple walked past me and the fellow offered to take my dog poop bag to the garbage can for me – because I had already gone past it when my dog decided to do his thing. They had seen me picking up garbage prior to that… My neighbour went jogging past me and commented that I was still “plogging” – “Good!” he said. 🙂

It feels like society is so fragmented when it comes to taking care of our common well-being. There is a segment that believes we should work together for the common good (I like to believe I sit mostly on this side of the fence), and others who are vehemently against working for the common good – “every man for himself.” Considering how much the environment is suffering at the moment, I can’t believe that more people don’t want to work for the common good.

We can all do our bit, whether you feel like a climate change hypocrite or not.

Find my little one-woman campaign on Facebook to battle litterbugs : 10 000 Butts Finland.

Doing good is better than just making money
Doing good doesn’t need to cost the earth
You do the right thing and still be successful.
– Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet

On a whim a few weeks ago, I decided to go and pick up a big pile of styrofoam from the banks of Espoonjoki.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    July 7, 2020 4:38 pm

    Isn’t H&M also specifically one of the chains that produce and sell lots of cheap, non-durable clothes? You know, very contemporary fashion, very quickly out of season? Whether synthetic (microplastics, oil) or cotton (water usage), that can’t be good.

    • August 4, 2020 1:39 pm

      They are, but I am glad that they take stuff back. I don’t shop at H&M… I was disappointed to hear that Lindex is not accepting “lumppu” for the time being.

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