Challenges and Dilemmas in Everyday Life
Is it easy being green? This book discusses sustainability dilemmas faced by households in the course of everyday life. Contrary to the often-espoused rhetoric that being green is ‘easy’, household sustainability is rife with contra- diction and uncertainty. While gains can be made through some actions, they must be traded off against other losses – and sometimes whether these trade- offs are worth it remains unclear. Is it worse to waste the water to rinse out tin cans than to put them in the recycling bin dirty? Is it worse to use plastic super- market bags for bin liners, or to take reusable green bags to the supermarket but then buy dedicated bin liners (Chapter 9)? Some of these are empirical questions dependent on the chemistry of plastic. But beyond the need for better calculations of these sorts of trade-offs, are dilemmas of everyday prac- tice. How much time do well-intentioned people spend thinking these choices through, debating them within a household? Which members of households undertake this ‘thinking work’? Who feels guilty? What could be the outcomes if the same amount of effort was invested elsewhere? Some purportedly ‘sustainable’ behaviours such as eating local food may in fact prove more damaging than eating imported food, because ‘food miles’ associated with transportation of fruit and vegetables can be only a minor component of total carbon impact (Chapter 2). Two seemingly identical tomatoes on a greengro- cer’s counter may involve diverging ‘journeys’ to the shop, with quite stark differences in carbon impacts depending on a range of factors. Myriad dilemmas and alternative considerations prevail over basic, everyday behaviours and actions.