From businesswoman to eco-warrior, see how one woman didn't have to compromise to have it all.
I used to think that green issues were just for dread-locked rainbow warriors in hemp trousers. This sort of prejudice is common among businesspeople but I was wrong to have it. Finally businesses are catching up too, and environmental issues are no longer a niche concern. It’s been a while in coming, but my conversion to greener living has finally arrived, and it’s not a lifestyle badge to show off how ‘right on’ we are – it’s an important and pressing change for the environmental challenges of everyday life.
I don’t think I’m your average eco-warrior. I’m not living in a yurt. I’m not even vegan. But I have learned to moderate my life to the best that I can manage, and I’m trying to do better. I’m writing this article because I think that with the increasing demands we are taking on our environment, the impact of CO2 emissions and intensive farming for example, everyone needs to think about what difference they can manage to make. Anything is a step in the right direction. You don’t have to be a saint to make changes in your life, it is all about putting your good intentions into actions. However well-meaning you are, if you don’t act on it, it’s pointless.
I don’t like to admit this these days, but I used to drive a gas guzzling four wheel drive. Even to pop to the local shops. Nowadays I ride my bike whenever possible, or get the bus. I still have a car for those trips you just can’t make on public transportation, but I use it as little as possible and try and carpool when I can.
It’s not just transportation either. This is going to sound dull to some of you, but changing my energy provider was a good step for me. There are ecological energy companies that provide fuel from wind, solar and hydroelectric power that are more sustainable and equally affordable. These are a personal interest of mine, and were my introduction to greener living, but I shan’t bore you with the specifics, rather it is just an example of a small change that brought about a larger change in my life. You probably don’t want to hear about my new insulation, and the solar panels I’m having fitted don’t make for much more entertaining reading, though it will be exciting to be producing my own energy!
I was joking earlier about hemp trousers, but I do buy organic clothes now. I used to think this was an indulgence, almost like wearing a brand label, until I learned about the terrible health implications that pesticides have on rural cotton farmers in the countries of origin. Not only are my organic clothes kinder to them, but they feel better on my skin. I wear an organic blouse to work now and people comment on the style of it. If you find the right retailer you can look sharp and stay ethical at the same time.
Organic is a keyword for me now. As I said, I do eat meat, but in moderation and from ethical sources. I would rather eat it less often and get quality food that tastes better and comes from happy sources. And I would never buy eggs from caged hens again.
Environmental living has introduced me to all sorts of aspects of health which have made me think about what I put into my body, and also made me think about ethics in other aspects of my life. I feel hesitant to say it, because I have so far to go, but I think I have become more spiritual a person. I have respect for nature, and I feel like the universe has been good to me. The more I try to do things right the more good things open up for me. I feel blessed. I have a long way to go, but I feel happy to have started on the path I have, if only I had realized sooner.
Eleanor Redfield studied at Birmingham Business School and has been involved in Energy for fifteen years. She now consults and writes for Business Electricity, especially the energy saving tips and tricks resource. In her spare time she renovates furniture and writes freelance.