Friday, August 7, 2009


You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy. ~Eric Hoffer

At the moment I'm living a fairly spartan lifestyle. Everything I own will fit into a couple of bags, it has to if I want to take it home with me. Yet the things that I do have are generally quite energy intensive: mac laptop, graphics tablet, dSLR, lenses. I tend to swing quite wildly from a fairly anti-consumerist/environmentalist outlook on life, to thinking how wonderful the new ipod touch looks.
A big part of my desire to reduce my consumption is to reduce my impact on the world. This year I've already flown a couple times and will be making at least three more international flights in the near future. Big CO2 emissions right there. That said, my day-to-day life is fairly low impact: I take to bus to and from work, I'm trying, fairly successfully to not use plastic bags and I recycle my plastics, tins and glass.

During my final year at university I took an environmental politics class so I have a fair idea of how bad the state of affairs are at the moment. I'd certainly like to do more to keep up to date with current environmental issues. I listen to a few podcasts here and there but just keeping abreast of the issues isn't enough, especially when done through electricity guzzling gadgets. This revival in trying to do my bit has been sparked by the trailer for the film No Impact Man, a film about a New Yorker who for a year tries to ensure that his family and himself have zero environmental impact. Some may think that do such a thing would require serious curtailments of their comfortable living and I for one am eager to see just how big the adjustments are that they have to make.

This led me to thinking, just how much would I be willing to sacrifice in order to help reduce my impact on the planet? I suppose the wise thing to do would be to first workout what my current impact is. I'll let you know how that goes. But just doing a mental checklist of the things that I do have, I don't think I could do without many of them. I love digital photography, and hoopefully through wildlife photography I will be able to use my skills to raise awareness of environmental issues so no getting rid of my camera. Which means I need my laptop. And my external harddrives. I could probably do without the graphics tablet but I don't think that adds much to the equation. I don't have a car or a motorbike, but I do tend to sleep with the air-conditioning on. So that's something right there I could deal with.
The next major impact I have would be the traveling I do. In just over a fortnight I'm flying to China for a week, then I'm flying back home to the UK for about a month, then the plan is to take a one way flight to Thailand. I do have the option of offsetting that through a company that specializes in such things but I don't really trust many of them. Partly because I don't really understand them. How does my money offset my carbon? Another thing to look into. Before leaving university I came up with the idea of traveling the globe without flying. The idea of a world trip is beginning to lose interest for me as my time in Korea has taught me the value of staying in one place to gain a more complete experience. So perhaps I could look into more terrestrial travel for the shorter trips I hope to be making. It might mean more time and money, but it will lead to a better understanding of the distances I'm traveling and the way the landscape changes, experiences that are difficult to have from 30,000 feet.
Just some of my rambling thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting observations, and pretty well-expressed for a non-linguist!! Congratulations Tom. :-)