Reduce, reuse, fly stuff half-way across the planet, recycle
We don't want to seem fanatical about this, but some things just can't be left to pass without comment.
Those of us who have been paying attention in our climate change indoctrination sessions will know that it is a mortal sin to fly with one's family for a holiday in the Mediterranean somewhere. We must all strive to minimise our carbon footprints as much as possible. Presumably by standing on tip-toe.
However, we now discover that if one empties the airliner of tourists, stuffs it with roses from Kenya and flies it five times as far, it magically becomes a good thing because it is promoting economic development in Africa. This at any rate was the opinion expressed by Mrs Glenys Kinnock MEP on the BBC Radio 4 PM program just before Valentine's Day. She was speaking in response to a proposed boycott of Valentine's flowers on environmental grounds (they are grown in huge greenhouses with allegedly vast amounts of energy expended on lighting and heating - except for the environmentally friendly ones which are flown in from East Africa of course).
Not only this, it has also come to light this week that several local authorities in Yorkshire are demonstrating their enthusiasm for recycling by airlifting their recyclables to China. The Yorkshire Post reports:
"Councils which export some of their rubbish abroad include Sheffield, Rotherham, North East Lincolnshire, Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, York, Richmondshire and North Yorkshire County Council.
Ten tonnes of Bradford's plastic per week is sent from a contractor to a plastics factory in China. Leeds, York and Hambleton Councils transport their waste to Yorwaste, which exported 2,250 tonnes of this to China last year.
Richmondshire Council decided recently to export 200 tonnes of cardboard to a merchant in China. A spokesman said sometimes sending material abroad was the only option.
According to experts recycling has become a global trade, like any other, with China's growing manufacturing industry pulling plastics, paper and card to the East. Meanwhile regional businesses are in need of cheap materials and having to buy them from Europe."
We can't help thinking there are mixed messages being sent here. Are we to applaud the operation of the free market? Or the effort to assist developing economies (although China is developing so fast it hardly needs any assistance)? Is there really nothing else that can be done with excess cardboard than to send it to China?
We await Glenys Kinnock's response to guide us through this appalling moral conundrum. We won't be holding our breath though.