You may think you are not well off, but even the poorest Europeans have more luxuries than a medieval King had. Hot water, skilled doctors not quacks, warm rooms, chocolate, fresh fruit all year, dentists not tooth extractors, we eat meat daily and have more variety of choice in everything.
Our homes are filled with junk which would have filled a whole village. I remember my rucksack contained more than a farming family of six in the high Himalayas had in theIr entire house. The average European worries they won’t afford a holiday, well, few people in the world can. We fret over mobile phone deals, not realising we are fuelling a seething African gang war over the rare minerals used in its construction, as well as threatening mountain gorillas.
And meat. As people get wealthier they eat more meat and the swelling populations of Asia are putting enormous pressure to produce more, yet those Kenyans who keep winning long distant races hardly eat meat, beans still are and have been their main source of protein for centuries. Vast tracts of forest are cleared to feed the worldwide boom in cattle needed to give us this extravagant diet. Everywhere land is being turned into farmland, depleting habitats, destroying countless species. And we rape the sea, hauling vast nets, diminishing fish stocks.
Then there’s plastics. They wrap the stuff we buy daily. Some time ago, I wrote to all the major supermarkets about this, but only Sainsbury’s engaged. Why turn from biodegradable solutions when plastics are polluting everywhere, including the seas, breaking down into particles so small they get into the milk baby dolphins suckled from their mothers’ breasts.
This means we, you, me all of us, are responsible. We’ve not even mentioned chemicals, nor the transport of non-seasonal produce, and more.
The question is complicated, but the answer is simple. Refuse to buy stuff wrapped in plastic, try to cut out anything made of the stuff. Business responds to us the customer. And on that point, buy less. We really don’t need the next gadget, that dress, shoe design or whatever. Wear your clothes until they can no longer be repaired, buy from second hand shops. Ignore the tug of consumerism - we need an economy based on sustainability not environmental devastation. And eat meat only once a week, or better still, once a month, which is more than we do in our household. Try to buy from sustainable fish sources - the best are mussels farmed, trout too if organic as that doesn’t add miserable chemicals into the water. Eat more veg - one of our best mountaineers, Doug Scott, is a vegetarian.
If we continue as we are our planet will soon soon be a disaster zone. And we won’t be able to grow enough food to support the growing population. Hesitate, think about all of this, then buy with skill. That’s the best legacy to leave your children, grandchildren and those mountain gorillas, to say nothing of the future of baby dolphins.