Cath Elliott, whose wisdom has previously been noted, today shares her insights regarding ethical consumerism. This, so far as I can make out, involves inordinate fretting over the morality of washing out empty peanut butter jars:
I usually just give up and throw it in the bin (as long as no one’s watching).
It also involves no end of bothersome contradiction and, of course, feelings of remorse.
I refuse to set foot through the door of Primark and yet I shop in Tesco. I make sure my vegetables are locally sourced, but then I eat mango like it’s going out of fashion. I cycle to keep fit and to minimise my carbon footprint, but I also smoke, not roll ups either, but cigarettes manufactured by a major tobacco company.
Oh, the humanity. I trust Ms Elliott is no less forgiving of others – say, people who shop at Primark.
No doubt some people would argue that I’m a textbook example of a hand-wringing liberal, making futile gestures so I can feel good about myself, and performing all sorts of intellectual contortions to try and rationalise any slip-ups.
After all, is my decision not to drink Coke realistically going to have an impact on a company that last year earned $5.98bn? Probably not; but just as I’m fairly sure my refusal to buy Cape fruit in the 1980s had no bearing whatsoever on the later dismantling of the apartheid regime, that’s not the point.
If not to have a discernible impact, directly or by example, what, then, is the point? What drives this level of anxiety over soft drinks and peanut butter residue? Unless much of this is indeed about seeking out pretentious guilt and then wringing one’s hands for public display and personal gratification?