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25 August 2008

I seem to have stopped being an ethical consumer The little green compost bin the council provides has started emitting a cloud of flies when I open it, and it's so yucky I can't face cleaning it. So I've been putting organic waste in the normal bin for the last week.[More:]

Then the other night I crossed my legs too energetically and my fairtrade M&S cargoes ripped open at the crotch. That's about the third pair to fail in the last year, so I got 8 replacements from childlabourtastic Primark.

On the way home I stopped at the corner shop to get some eggs, but the free range ones were only a few days from their sell-by date so I got battery farmed ones instead.

So, when do I get to be able to shoot blue lightning from my fingertips? I'm looking forward to that bit.
I assume that you don't own six Chervrolet Suburbans, clear rain forest land for growing topsoil-depleting crops, or pay your galley oarsmen less than a living wage? You're fine then.

And minor rant: The whole green/ethical/fairtrade "lifestyle" is pretty consumer-packaged anyway, and the British and Europeans in general seem to be way ahead of America; it's way more visible than it is in the States, even here in California. You take trains! You have biomass plants going up in Sheffield! You're well on your way to living more sustainably; everything in the US is so patchwork-y with local rules and laws that I wonder if we'll ever get to where you are.

In any case, I just got off the phone with Mother Earth; she's giving you a bye this week (but don't forget to call, she reminded me to tell you).
posted by mdonley 25 August | 05:39
  • "Ethical consumer" is an oxymoron. You think those M&S cargoes were transported to the mall in solar powered trucks?
  • Stop consuming - join a commune that is off the grid and grows all of its own food and generates all of its own power and then we'll talk.
  • One guy (or even many like-minded guys) won't change anything - you need your government to do things differently on the large scale.
  • The flies in your compost pile are biomass, and mother earth loves them.
  • If you really cared about mother earth you wouldn't be wearing any pants.
  • You don't get the blue lightning bolt upgrade until you have 1,500XP from killing hippies with your bare hands.
posted by Meatbomb 25 August | 06:00
Hehe, 1,500XP's worth of strangled hippies coming right up...
posted by TheophileEscargot 25 August | 08:37
Last night my cat chewed through my reusable grocery bag, and the waxed paper bakery bag inside, to get at a croissant. I'm not sure how it relates, but I'm still wondering about it and thought I'd share.
posted by crush-onastick 25 August | 09:02
We don't even have an organic waste bin, everything but recycling goes into the same bags. (and I'm always 1/2 convinced that the recycling goes right into the same landfill as the rest of the garbage).
posted by octothorpe 25 August | 12:34
Then the other night I crossed my legs too energetically and my fairtrade M&S cargoes ripped open at the crotch.

In my experience, M&S is pretty good about replacing defective goods. Under the Sale of Goods Act they are required to, but they never gave me a hassle.
posted by grouse 25 August | 12:52
eh, maybe read my rant about "ethical consumers" in the weekend thread above.

IMO there are far too many people (at least in this country) who use being an "ethical consumer" as a Bludgeon of Virtue.

it makes me want to stab them in the face, frankly.
posted by lonefrontranger 25 August | 13:08
Are you talking about the guy riding his bike badly? Was that a rant about ethical consumers?

If by "this country" you mean the US, then we have much bigger problems than self-righteous greenies. How about the overwhelming majority of oblivious/irresponsible assholes who proudly embrace their wastefulness?

Or the spoiling, insecure shrews who bristle at the very concept of anyone aspiring to improve on the lifestyle they've chosen?
posted by scarabic 25 August | 23:39
Seriously - the overestimation of people's smugness is pretty rampant. Buy a Prius or go vegetarian on an idealistic whim and whether you are smug about it or not you will automatically find yourself the target of a bunch of negativity, as if your attempt to do something you feel is right amounts to a judgment upon everyone else. How dare you aspire to be better than yourself (and, by implication, me)!! Yeesh. In a country where almost everyone is living badly right now, the very LAST thing we need is to start pointing fingers at the teensy minority who try, however misguidedly or unsuccessfully, to help.
posted by scarabic 25 August | 23:44
If I bought a Prius (and I considered it), it would be for purely selfish reasons.
posted by grouse 26 August | 01:23
Sounds like it was a pretty good croissant.

Well said, scarabic. It's amazing to me, and more than a little disturbing, to have the kind of holier-than-thou folks that lfr decries on one end and the you-think-you're-better-than-me conspicuous consumers on the other. Between that and the utterly predictable big-money misinformation and co-opting, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room left in the middle for good intentions and small thoughtful actions and slow change and stuff.

(Maybe try work pants or military surplus, Theophile? Either way, they're very durable and often union-made. And, better yet, you can often acquire secondhand ones that still have a lot of life in 'em.)
posted by box 26 August | 06:43
The way I've found that I can clean my green bin without having to touch it is to pour some laundry detergent into there, fill it with water, put the lid on and leave it for a few hours. Then dump it some place not on my yard. Not something I'd take my lunch to work in afterwards, but it seems to get rid of the layer of black stuff that creeps me out so much even though I know it's mostly coffee grinds.

As for the rest of teh ethical consumer stuff, mostly I just don't consume much of anything out of hatred of shpoping and clutter, so I don't worry too much about what I do buy.
posted by Space Coyote 26 August | 07:51
Thanks for the tips guys! Will definitely try the laundry detergent thing.
posted by TheophileEscargot 26 August | 13:25
there doesn't seem to be a lot of room left in the middle for good intentions and small thoughtful actions and slow change and stuff

Exactly. I mean, hell, even if the "green lifestyle" is a bunch of demi-truths and inconsistencies, aren't small steps better than nothing? It's just too convenient to seize on any little hypocrisy or contradiction as an excuse not to bother at all.

We don't use the green plastic bin anymore either. We've experimented with various unlined containers and just found them all too gross. Now we just have a second flip-lid garbage can which we line with compostable bio-bags. It's been a lot cleaner and easier to deal with, though the bags are not cheap.

Still, composting saves us money. We share a small trash can with two other residences and if it weren't for composting, we'd have to pay for a larger garbage bin.
posted by scarabic 26 August | 14:11
I'm not sure I understand the "green bin" thing. Does somebody come and pick up the waste to be composted somewhere off your property, like a garbage pickup only for food waste?

We keep an empty bread or cereal bag on the (in)side of our sink and put our to-be-compost there. When it's full, we hold a dirty dish under under it so that it doesn't drip as we head out the door, empty it into the compost pile in our backyard, and then throw away the bag.
posted by danostuporstar 26 August | 14:30
Does somebody come and pick up the waste to be composted somewhere off your property, like a garbage pickup only for food waste?

Exactly. There are enormous compost heaps just down the road in Acton Park: I assume it ends up there. I live in a flat (apartment) so I can't really do my own composting.
posted by TheophileEscargot 26 August | 15:20
Wow, that's awesome. I've never heard of *any* municipal composting efforts in the States.
posted by danostuporstar 26 August | 16:07
Food waste, I mean. They do pick up grass clipping. yard waste, etc.
posted by danostuporstar 26 August | 16:21
You might want to look into yours, danstuporstar. For the longest time I thought my big green bin was just for yard clippings. Then my downstairs neighbor started throwing ham sandwiches into it. Apparently the county turns it into compost down by the dump and then sells it as fertilizer. The whole thing sounds like it stays pretty local. Definitely awesome.
posted by scarabic 29 August | 18:27
I'm going to Ikea for the first time ever tomorrow. || OK, so typing "pasta salad" into a recipe site is like typing "sex" into Google.