It’s not easy being green was of course a song from The Muppets where Kermit sang about the difficulties of being a frog. It was also, more relevantly a TV series from about ten years ago about one family’s journey to self-sufficiency. The Strawbridge family, led by the extravagantly moustachioed Dick (a retired army engineer) took on a dilapidated farm in Cornwall and set about reducing their reliance on the national grid, producing their own food and being as “eco-friendly” as possible (and not giving up 21st century conveniences). As this was for TV and the fact that they had a decent budget, engineering skills and an army of willing helpers made up of their children’s student friends they built a water wheel to generate power, a bio diesel plant to fuel their Land Rover* and various wind turbines plus the more traditional rearing livestock and growing organic produce. It was an inspiring and entertaining series and they were very successful in their aims. Accompanying the series was a book, also worth a read and there’s a bit more detail. Alongside the “how to” parts of the book it explores the compromises you either must make, or frankly just choose to make, to make life easier, affordable or fun.
This idea of compromise crops up a lot in conversation at the Eco-create networks. Being “eco-friendly” in our works is obviously a pre-requisite of the group but we all approach it differently. It might be recycling; it might be sourcing locally and using natural materials produced by themselves. In my case its reducing waste from landfill. We all want to preserve the world and its resources, we all try to be ethical and we all want to enjoy our various crafts and skills. We also want to make a living from our creating, even if it’s just paying for our hobby! One material might be cheaper to use but comes from the other side of the world. Another may be completely recycled but the artist is forced by some galleries to apply a finish that isn’t so friendly to the environment to make it durable. In my making, the wood I use would either end up dumped in landfill or chipped up for power station fuel etc.
By using it I’m saving it and in the case of the children’s kitchens or work benches I make its more durable and less polluting than the plastic alternatives. I also try to use up paints, glues etc that I already have. On the other hand, the paints are not “eco” versions and the fixings like screws and hinges come from the local hardware store and are not necessarily made in an environmentally friendly way or ethically produced. I don’t know and I’ve never asked. Judging by my electricity bill it also uses more power.
So, it’s a compromise but I feel it’s a “good” compromise. Everyone can do more but everyone is doing a bit (in the case of the other makers at the last meeting lots by comparison to me!) I see it that I offset the less eco aspects of my life style. We can beat ourselves up that not everything is perfect or we can continue to have a go at being better and showing what can be achieved in an “eco-friendly” way. It’s not easy being green but at least you’re not a frog who has to deal with a prima donna pig!
(*The Strawbridge Land Rover shows the massive contradictions of making an eco -friendly choice. He needed a practical vehicle and did live in a rural location so a 4×4 was a justifiable choice. However, they aren’t economical from a fuel usage and run on diesel which although produces less CO2 does produce gasses that are harmful to human health. On the other hand, it was built in this country so has used less energy in its production and transport and the fact it was quite an old vehicle the energy in its production has been offset in its continuous usage since it was made rather than building a new one. Compare this to a Japanese hybrid car. The amount of pollution it causes in its day to day use is tiny compared to the Land Rover but the car is built in Japan so needs shipping here. The materials for the batteries are produced in the United States so are shipped to the factory. Suddenly the environmental choice isn’t so clear and this is the same for every consumer item.)