greener than thou?

There are three types of ‘green’ consumers according to a new study released by Leeds University:

1. “Selectors” – these types go green with one aspect of their lives – recycling or composting, buying local veg, or switching to a renewable energy plan for instance.  The rest of their lives are led in a bliss of consumption.

2. “Translators” – these types nearly have it.  They change a lot of things and applying the three R’s wherever they can, but they don’t seek out new information to make their lifestyle more sustainable. 

3. “Exceptors” – these are the tree huggers.  They apply green-thinking to every action in their day to day routine. 

So where does that leave you? 

I am a translator who aspires to exceptor status but it’s just such hard work! 

This weekend my partner and I went to London.  We considered taking the train, but ended up driving.   Even with £6 parking charge in Islington on Saturday (free on Sunday) it was cheaper to drive – about £30 – than to take the train, – £60 return even with discount vouchers. When I asked my partner if he felt guilty about driving he replied, “No, because I do my bit for the environment in other ways.” 

It’s true.  We have a renewable energy tariff, we compost and recycle and only use heating in the evenings and even then on the lowest setting (yes, our house is freezing). 

But it’s going to take more than just doing little bits to save the planet from the brink of destruction. 

Unfortunately, according to the study, we are not alone.  Most Britains fall into category number one and only a dedicated few are “exceptors.”  The average Britain is not ready to compromise on comfort or cost to save the planet.  The authors recommend financial incentives and clear labelling of environmental standards of all products – from mp3 players to sofas – to motivate people to radically change their behaviour.

I agree.  If the environmental cost of the car journey were factored in to the price, I surely would have chosen the train, because like most people I make decisions based on expense, ease and comfort.  Yet my priorities are shifting, albeit slowly.   The environment is at least on my agenda when we make transport decisions and it wasn’t a factor two years ago. 

Moving from a middle of the road green enthusiast to a tree-hugger isn’t going to be easy, but suffering from “carbon guilt” is a new one for me, and perhaps it will provide the much needed motivation to compromise.

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