Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Green and pleasant land?

Loyal readers, apologies for the missed days. We've been at a family funeral. We're back now.

Sooooo, here we are in the UK. I have to admit that after reading about the UK being the second greenest country in the world (beaten only by Sweden) Dot and I imagined ourselves coming to the land of milk and honey, and in many ways England has not disappointed.

Instead of yet more credit card solicitations, the junk mail my mother-in-law receives through the post is a catalogue called Send a Cow (no links today - bloomin software - but it's - a catalogue full of ideas for ethical Xmas pressies (including buying a cow for a third world farmer). On Saturday, I bought eco-friendly (biodegradable) nappies in Sainsbury's, your bog-standard supermarket, in grotty Camden (last time I shopped in Camden it was for Soul to Soul Vol 1 Club Classics and a pair of dungarees. Aaaah how times change). Yesterday evening we picked up a bottle of organic wine at a rural BP gas station (the US equivalent would have stocked nothing but Marlboro Reds, radioactive ice pops and beef jerky), and today we had a wonderful experience at The Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester ( - they basically sell absolutely everything a regular supermarket would, but unlike e.g Whole Foods where not all the produce is organic, everything they stock - from jerusalem artichokes through sausages to breast pads (boys, unless you've had babies you won't know what these are and probably for the best, really) - is. If I lived here I would never shop anywhere else. It was heaven. Oh yes, diesel cars are ten a penny here, too, and diesel is sold on the main forecourt, unlike in the US.

But there have been some disappointments. On Sunday morning at brunch in Primrose Hill (London's answer to the West Village; locals include Jude Law and Kate Moss), the hubby texted me 'Pls pick up wrapping paper'. I texted back 'What for?'. 'Family Xmas pressies,' came the reply. I called him to discuss. "I am not buying wrapping paper. We'll wrap them in used newspaper." "We can’t wrap the family presents in newspaper," he objected, scorn dripping from his words. I knew he was thinking, 'stupid woman, how embarrassing, we'll look totally pikey and the family will not see the funny side' (his enormous family somehow all happen to be incredibly cool and style-conscious). "Well I'm not buying wrapping paper. The family read my blog and will get it," I replied. He huffed down the phone. "Alright, if I can find recycled paper, I'll get that," I offered as a compromise, "OK," he sighed.

So I trawled every last shop in Primrose Hill’s ‘village’. But my quest turned up nothing more than a few 'I dunno's and 'sorry, love's. I expected more from one of London's most chi chi, affluent, supposedly trend-setting neighbourhoods (after all, they have a fab farmer's market and a great deli stocking almost exclusively British produce). Instead, I went home empty-handed.

The wrapping paper stalemate was resolved when I agreed to some spare paper our hosts Theo and Sally had lying around - on the basis that if it had already been bought, it was ok to use it up (in fact one of the Xmas tips I was going to give on here was that you should see what hilarious bits of paper your Mum might have lying round from when you were a kid. I remember some classics like Donald Duck in a father Xmas outfit – sort of vintage 80s chic).

Which brings me to a dilemma the mother-in-law and I were discussing today – which is, when you decide to switch to the eco-variants of stuff, do you use up the bad stuff first, or switch right away and chuck the bad stuff in the bin (you’ll remember I had this same question over the eco-friendly lightbulbs)? My POV is you might as well use it up first because once the pollutants are out there, they’re out there, so they might as well serve a purpose before they head to landfill or waterways, otherwise the damage really is wanton

Actually, what I do is get the eco version, then keep the other under the sink in case I run out because I really can’t bring myself to use it. Or, in the case of laundry, you could do a wash every few weeks with the biological powder if your whites are looking a little more Magnolia.

Anyway, before I go, had to drop in a quote from Jon Bon Jovi, discovered in an article in this month's Q magazine about musicians going green:

"I think Gore is the smartest man I have ever met," Bon Jovi explains. "But if you really want to know why I'm doing this [showing trailers for An Inconvenient Truth at his recent tour], it's because i feel guilty about the huge hole in the ozone layer my haircits created. It is my responsibility to get right all the wrongs of the '80s"


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At 5:21 PM , Blogger Amelia said...

hello freya!
quick note to say happy xmas and how much I enjoyed reading your blog.
jeremy bullmore is getting interested in blogs and i passed him your url, i am sure that he would love to hear from you
have a great xmas

At 2:47 AM , Blogger Patrick said...

Hi freya - I saw this on cool tools and thought of you.

Happy Birthday tomorrow.



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