Not Evangelism

Friday, May 9, 2014

Is Pragmatic Environmentalism Still Relevant?

As I reactivate this blog after a couple of years of absence, and return to actively posting (rather than drafting article after article without publishing any), I've been asking myself whether the main topics I chose to cover when I started - almost four years ago - are still relevant to me; whether they're still something I'm passionate about, and also whether I still have some expertise in them.

Cycling was the easiest topic to answer the question. The amount of active cycling I do has decreased in the past couple of years, partly as my son has grown older and required more of my time as a taxi service. At the same time, my job has developed to a level that I have less readily available slack, and the cycle commute has fallen out of favour.

But cycling is still a part of me. I trained for and rode my first ever (and perhaps last ever!) century ride last year; I still use my bike to nip to the shops or to collect a takeaway. I still delight in the feeling of the wind on my wheels.

As for Design Matters - user experience - my change in job role has meant that I'm not as active a practitioner as I used to be. But my eye is still drawn to detail; I still embrace those same philosophies and see good (and bad) design in all kinds of everyday places. It's still close to my heart, and I want it to remain so.

Which brings us, then, to Pragmatic Environmentalism. Is there still space in my life (and this blog) for my homegrown approach to environmentalism? Is it still relevant to me?

It's certainly true that the ethics that led me to environmentalism are still part of me. Yes, I have made more compromises along the way, some of them as a result of being a parent. But I've continued to draw the line too; refused to do what I felt was wrong or inappropriate. I've continued to delight in seasonal food, for instance, and am currently stuffing myself with good old asparagus.

What about that word "pragmatic"? As I reflect now, I realise that I first used it to make environmentalism palatable to people who saw environmentalists as tree huggers with beards and hair shirts, to tone down the dark green. And I think that I also used it as an apology for my dilute brand of environmentalism; a justification, or an excuse for my failings and limits.

But yes, a green life for the 21st Century - pragmatic environmentalism - is still important to me. And this is, I think, my chance to rediscover and re-develop what it means to me, and how relevant it is to my life now. A chance to re-launch and re-boot and, where I can, recycle.

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