COLUMNIST

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Wdp 2 / Opinion - RON BENDELL

AN al­most elec­tri­cal sense of de­light flew around the back­room of the Third Eye Book Store in Main Street, Skid­mar­que, Louisiana, as sales as­sis­tant Lu­pus K Finkel­stein Jnr ripped the pack­ag­ing from the newly ar­rived pal­let of fresh stock.

“Gee, shucks, wid­derkins,” he yelled. “It’s the lat­est work from that Limey dude who wants to save the planet. It’s called No More Plas­tic – let’s hope it just flies off the shelves!”

Sadly, how­ever, in his ex­cite­ment, Finkel­stein Jnr did not no­tice the length of cling film that flew from his hands and into the road out­side and which – af­ter many ad­ven­tures we don’t have the time to go into here – ended up float­ing down the mighty Mis­sis­sippi and into the open sea.

And there it was swal­lowed by an ex­tremely rare tur­tle that died slowly, hor­ri­bly and very, very painfully.

All of this a sce­nario, I’m sure, that went through the mind of that Limey dude – our very own writer and eco­log­i­cal cam­paigner Martin Dorey of Bude – when he heard that the book, urg­ing a re­duc­tion in plas­tic waste, was be­ing shrink-wrapped for dis­tri­bu­tion in the USA.

“It un­does all our hard work and proves once again that we are us­ing plas­tic with our eyes closed,” Martin wrote when news of the shock first ar­rived. “We toiled hard on this. We worked with the printer to make it one of the most en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly books this year. And then this.”

You have to feel sorry for the chap. His work re­ally is more about get­ting a mes­sage across rather than bring­ing in the, er, bucks. He’s been bang­ing the drum for al­most a decade now and let’s hope that some­one, some­where is begin­ning to lis­ten.

But the mes­sage from Amer­ica

re­minds us of the dan­gers that even the best do-good­ery can bring – and what paves the Road to Hell.

I’m re­minded of that char­ity mo­tor­bike ride in aid of the Devon Air Am­bu­lance that led to a par­tic­u­larly nasty ac­ci­dent that must surely have cost the fly­ing first aid ser­vice an even greater sum in terms of time, money and dis­tress. Also there are those para­chute jumps that cost the NHS far more than the few pen­nies raised that end up go­ing to good causes.

Still, you can’t deny that spirit of good in­tent that runs through it all. Some­times, though, sheer stu­pid­ity comes through to out­weigh any thought of virtue. If you re­ally, re­ally do want to make life bet­ter for all it is some­times best to sit tight, stay as you are and do noth­ing.

Re­cently I be­came em­broiled in an – ad­mit­tedly funny and en­joy­able – row with a young ac­quain­tance over the evils of my con­tin­u­ing to drive my an­cient, pol­lut­ing old diesel car. “Think of the planet you’ll be leav­ing me,” he said. “There’ll be noth­ing left.”

His con­cern for his fel­low man was such that he was soon off to do some chariddy work. Hav­ing al­ready spent time help­ing out some­where in South Amer­ica, he’s now flit­ting be­tween var­i­ous

trop­i­cal is­lands in In­done­sia.

Hang on! South Amer­ica? In­done­sia? I did a few back-of-a-fag­packet sums and worked out that to make up for the car­bon foot­print of his flights alone I would have to run that clapped-out old car each day for at least an­other 438 years. It doesn’t add up.

On top of that, he and his mates could well be tak­ing jobs from lo­cals who need them, oc­cu­py­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion that is prob­a­bly in short sup­ply and shov­el­ling down grub while oth­ers go hun­gry.

Other sim­i­lar ex­am­ples come thick and fast from all di­rec­tions. Hypocrisy is too cruel a word. Let’s stick with thought­less­ness.

The thought­less­ness, per­haps, of de­vot­ing vast swathes of Bri­tish land to wolves and beavers when lost food pro­duc­tion means that a rain­for­est some­where has to be ploughed to make up for lost food pro­duc­tion or the in­tro­duc­tion of var­i­ous web­sites and apps to cater for lone­li­ness and mental is­sues when those problems were, in the first place, caused by too many web­sites and apps,

Through­out, in­er­tia seems bet­ter than ac­tion.

In the spirit of which, sorry Martin, I won’t be buy­ing a copy of No More Plas­tic. I re­ally do love the en­vi­ron­ment and the pur­chase does sound a bit risky.

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