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.