Keen to be green – Katie Ruby Miller

…but feeling like a bad human being.

The environment and my impact on it is something I often ponder about. I try to live a minimalist lifestyle. My carbon footprint is probably a lot smaller than the average person’s. My home, a floating 32ft Narrowboat takes up very little space on this planet. Living off grid I am fairly self sufficient and in environmental terms I am quite green. I have solar panels on my roof which allows me to live without having to run my diesel engine to charge up my batteries. I have a limited water tank which means that I am very conscious about how much water I use. Some people might think that I am less green because I have to burn wood and coal during the winter months (its smokeless coal may I add and fallen wood I have foraged alongside the towpath) however I still feel like my carbon footprint is massively smaller than someone living in a house. Though I still feel guilty!

So there are some other ways I have made my life more green. I’ve switched from using tampons to a menstrual cup, I purchase products that are eco friendly/responsibly sourced and carbon offset, I shop in charity shops and locally when I can. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 18 years and I’ve even started to grow my own fruit and veg in a floating green house I tow along. But I still feel like I’m not doing enough. I still feel like a bad human.

I’ve always had a love of nature and animals and have always felt so blessed to experience life on this planet. It is such an incredible place and I feel like we are responsible for the loss of some of nature’s great habitats and beautiful creatures all for our own greed and consumption. Thanks to the boomers which have made the UK’s population reach the ridiculous number of 7 billion I now feel guilty that I would like to do the most natural thing and bring a child into this world, adding to that ever growing number.

It is so difficult to be a good human being in today’s society. We are born into a world where we trade our time for money and then trade our money for goods. We are basically all just slaves to a system that is damaging the environment as some businesses still haven’t developed a conscience when it comes to the impact of their operation on the planet. How are we supposed to make good environmental decisions when we’ve grown up in a world of convenience and consumption? It’s too easy to be a bad human and too difficult to be a good one.

During the last year as us humans were confined to our own fortresses of solitude I noticed some positive changes in the environment. With less traffic on the roads and in the air I could hear the bird song in all its glory as well as tasting cleaner air. The towpaths were left to grow and instead of grass I had hundreds of wildflowers surrounding my windows. Nature was fighting back and giving a home to the most bees and butterflies I had seen in many years. It felt like a period of healing, which I fear may be completely undone once life goes back to “normal”.

But should it? The world doesn’t really belong to us.