Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess


The latest creative eco-doom statistic informs us that the waste created in Britain over Christmas is equivalent to 400,000 double-decker buses, stretching all the way from London to New York City. Not only that, but if every family reused just 2ft of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet (according to Robert Lilienfeld, co-author of the book Use Less Stuff: environmental solutions for who we really are).

I am wondering how boffins work out these statistics - I've taken to memorising them as a mental exercise to ward off early Alzheimer's.

Despite efforts made by many of us to reduce our rubbish mountains, until there are financial incentives to do so - like a tax on packaging - nothing will change. My rubbish bag wasn't as big as usual this Christmas - usually it's full of unrecylable plastic packaging from the gadgets S buys himself, whoops I mean buys me. Experts insist that men don't hear women, so I'd gone to the trouble of writing "no gadgets for Christmas" and taping it to the drinks cupboard. My spirits lifted further when he announced he was going to buy some green underwear he'd seen "in a dream". You can never have too many green undergarments so I waited in anticipation that my grey sagging stocks might soon be replaced. Sadly the garments proffered weren't green but another, much inferior colour, so no good.

For those of us whose Christmas was blighted by undergarments of the wrong colour, shape or size, don't chuck them into landfill, take them to your local Red Cross shop. They collect unwanted textiles to make into furniture stuffing. While you're at it, take your old cards to Tesco or WHSmith and they will be used to raise funds for the Woodland Trust until the end of January.

My present to him created zero waste - two theatre tickets to The New Statesman with wonderful Rik Mayall. I'm not a theatre fan generally. Plays go on for too long and the interval is too short. You're enjoying a drink and a spot of people-gazing and then it's time to return to your grubby velour seat.

I got into intervals properly after the 2001 election, when I stood as the Green Party candidate in Chelsea against Michael Portillo. During the interminable count, where I lost my deposit and the will to live, my small, dispirited band of supporters were briefly rebooted when Mr Portillo sat down at our table to say hello. But too soon he rushed off to meet friends at the theatre, not for the play but for a drink in the interval. It made me realise that a 15-minute interval is just long enough for the busy person to stay in touch with their more intellectual friends. If only theatres could just sell interval tickets - they could bolster the occasion with interesting cocktails and highlights of the play on a revolving "loop". This would provide the perfect zero-carbon gift for the busy person who is social, but not too social.


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