Through my very existence I am bad for the planet. I eat food (including beef and God knows that’s an environmental disaster in itself) and I produce waste. I wear clothes, I drive a car, I use electricity and sometimes, please forgive me, I drink coffee from disposable cups.
I have an album of photographs on Facebook of the artwork that is often found on these very same disposable cups. Some of it is incredible, designed specifically for the shape of the cup, much of it is beautiful and it leaves me always, with a smile on my face. But lately I have been left wondering whether people judge my celebration of this art based on its canvas. So I need to set the record straight…
I have as much of an environmental conscience as the next person. I have created entire artworks out of rubbish. I am a chronic recycler, making sure I sort my household waste to maximise the amount that goes into recycling and minimise that which goes to landfill. I have been known to pick up rubbish while out on a walk, making sure that I recycle (or upcycle) what I can when I get home. Clothes too old or damaged to donate to charity are reused in a variety of art projects. I’ve recently begun experimenting with weaving a new rubbish receptacle (who knows, I might use it to collect my recycling) out of old plastic bags. I strike cuttings from plants and pass them on to my friends. As often as possible I try to buy fruit and vegetables from local farmers markets, but when I do get them from the supermarket, I buy as local as I can and I never use individual plastic bags. When given the option I never print receipts or bank statements. I grow my own herbs rather than buy them prepackaged and despite living in the Blue Mountains, where things can get very chilly indeed, I use a hot water bottle and extra blankets as opposed to the electric option.
Perhaps the greatest gift I have given to the future of the environment is one that comes from circumstance: I have not had any children. I have not created any carbon producing, food eating, car driving, coffee drinking humans who will continue this pattern of consumption and waste production well into the future.
And so eco-warriors I thank you, I sincerely do, for your efforts in preserving our planet. But please don’t judge me for my appreciation of beautiful art and please don’t think that because I occasionally drink coffee from disposable cups that I am out there ravaging the environment in every other way possible. Please continue to share your concerns and attempts to educate people (I genuinely mean this) by modelling environmentally sound practices in your own day-to-day existence. The combined efforts of everyone can go a long way to making a difference.