A serious-looking A5 booklet fell out of the Grauniad last weekend. Ah, I thought, another timely retrospective of Frieda Kahlo which I shall keep carefully on the floor for some months and mean to read in odd moments, only admitting that no moment is quite odd enough when the booklet has developed a thin patina of sticky fur.
But no, this is The Green Guide, and I flick through to see if there is anything whatsoever I don’t know about lightbulbs, roof insulation, leaving appliances on standby and the remainder. By the seventeenth page of promotional material I have twigged that this is not the usual exquisitely overthought series of Grauniad mini-essays with inset-box vignettes and a postgraduate-level bibliography of further contacts.
This is a 64-page advertising barrage exhorting me to replace my boiler, fit a water meter to my toilet, stick solar panels to my roof, do an environmental audit on my gerbil, open an ethical bank account with a monthly premium and give a tenner to the Forestry Commission every time I use my hair straighteners or else risk being a BAD PERSON. And you don’t want that. Do you.
At first I think myself profoundly depressed by the sinister emotional tools available to green marketeering. And also by the way it reduces environmentalism to the level of lifestyle choice – green marketing has become part of the same marketing “family” as the Boden catalogue. Don’t you want to be irrepressibly happy, middle-class, environmentally conscious, dressed in high-grade combed cotton tops and inclined to leap into the air with a wide grin? What’s wrong with you?
Then I realise that actually I am just resentful because I don’t own a boiler, a toilet, a roof or a gerbil, and therefore no-one is remotely interested in marketing any of this conscience-jangling shit to me. Second class citizen in environmentalism, as in everything else. I’m supposed to just turn the TV off standby and be happy with that, am I? Bastards.
I have put the Green Guide carefully on the floor in case I need it again.