Thursday, 26 July 2007

Stairway to Devon

This week our family of six is going by foot and train to Devon. It’s a pretty low-carbon holiday, renting a group of wooden chalets on a 20-acre nature reserve with my siblings. We’ll set off on foot to Lewes train station, and walk the two miles from the tiny Eggesford station at the other end. There are old bikes on site and a farm shop along the lane. We’ll take cards and booze and books. We’ll unplug the TV, go on walks, play some outdoor games and, if it’s not wet, sit around a fire most nights. The kids will get bored, for a while - always an essential precursor to self-directed play. And the simplicity of our fortnight, I suspect, will be deeply relaxing.

George Monbiot in his Guardian column this week questioned whether it’s sufficient to simply become ‘green consumers’ or whether in fact we need to consume less overall. It’s an essential question. Twelve months ago I drove without compunction, flew with little hesitation, ate meat with abandon and sourced my clothes and other consumer goods wherever I wished. Those days are gone forever. Knowing what I do now, I can’t justify a three-planet lifestyle, or even such things as offsetting. I’m slowly adapting to live within my planet’s means. It’s not very sexy and it doesn’t boost the economy. So it’s deeply unfashionable. And it puts the journalist in a tough spot: there’s only so many column inches one can write about the frugal life.

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