Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fairtrade for the poor student?

Linacre is an entirely "green" and "Fairtrade" college, possibly (my memory fails me), the only one in Oxford. I enjoy it very much, because the emphasis on recycling and such makes it feel more like home (Portland, where EVERYONE recycles). I get frustrated sometimes over here when I can find nothing to do with cans but throw them away. There's a something programmed into me that makes me cringe and feel incredibly guilty when I throw away plain paper or glass jars...

Unfortunately, however, I cannot afford to completely offset my carbon footprint, a growing trend. I have yet to have been in a car in Oxford, and have taken the bus only a handful of times. I ride my bike and walk. I recycle what I can, turn off lights, take showers, etc. All good things. But when I started looking at flights home, I was told that I should be paying more money to buy carbon shares in order to offset the pollution caused by my flight. I agree, the pollution sucks. But I can't afford to double the cost of my flight. I would also like to limit my grocery and clothing purchases to organic, fairtrade, and generally ethically sound products. Often, this is a simple substitution. To completely overhaul my purchases, however, I would have to have a substantially larger income. What's wrong with the fact that only the rich can be ethical?

Not only that, but now that it's "trendy" to be organic and the oversight of farming/harvesting/production processes is a bit shaky, I'm not even sure that things at the supermarket are worth paying more for. As one professor put it, it seems a bit absurd to buy Marks and Spencers Organics in their normal, ridiculously plastic-y packaging.

I would love to limit my own damage of the environment. The co-op's plastic bags are super-biodegradable. Oxford's buses have exhaust filters. I walk everywhere. It's all good. And scientific advances that help our world are also excellent. But in many ways, isn't it silly to ignore what my own family and friends did when I was younger? We reused packaging. We turned off lights. Etc. We didn't HAVE to shop at Whole Foods to save the world. GRRRR. That's my vent for the day.

On another note, this week will be CRAZY but I am enjoying myself. I've organized drinks for my course on Tuesday, and a Halloween party for our house on Wednesday. And I'm going to the ballet on Thurs....hooray!

1 comment:

Monkeypat83 said...

Yeah I always am very confused when people have to make an effort to remember to recycle cans or turn off the water when the brush their teeth. I am sure I could do more than I do but at least I am doing something. Happy Halloween from the Queen of Everything (that is what I am dressed as)