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Feeling guilty about the kids’ carbon footprint


Education.  Hmmm.  Is it really all it’s cracked up to be?  I think my eighties comprehensive education in Essex left me blissfully in the dark about many things – especially social responsibility.  But these days it’s all different.

For example, the big one is learning all about the environment and her little person’s size 13 carbon footprint.  It’s led to all sorts of uncomfortable questions at home and now our whole lifestyle is under scrutiny.

In my defence, though, I’d say we’re fairly green. We recycle.  We compost.  We work at home. We share baths.  And I shan’t tell you how my husband refers to the ‘green’ washing powder I use, but it’s something to do with comfortable shoes.

Ethically, we’re pretty good too.  Emlyn and I are both suckers for people with clip boards who want to engage us in conversation.  We’ve signed up for monthly direct debits to just about everyone:  NSPCC, The Red Cross, Oxfam, the lot.  Often twice.  I don’t even buy clothes from Primark because of my nagging fears about the cheap prices equalling slave labour, and I offload all my jumble to the good people up the road at The British Heart Foundation.

However, we do have a holiday home in Mallorca, which sounds very glam, but is actually the same as camping with bricks.  And we fly there and back in the holidays at ludicrous times of the day and night.

So far, so smug.  Except now the big one has told the middle one that all this so-called ‘cheap’ flying is bad for the environment.  The middle one is now proposing that we ditch the holiday home, the benefit if which is that I’d no longer have a valid excuse for not getting her a dog.   And we’d be saving the planet for my grandchildren. Hmmm.

I’ve tried to appease them both by paying for Carbon Offsetting on the easyJet site.  But I’m a bit hazy about what that means.  I just feel ripped off.  Isn’t it Carbon Offsetting for guilty green people, what Speedy Boarding is for stressed people, who get to pay to be at the front of the queue?

I resent feeling guilty.  I’ve avoided it quite successfully until now, pacifying myself with the thought that the favour I’m doing society by removing me and my off-spring from the museum queues in the holidays, more than compensates for the evil of flying to Maj.

And it’s not like I’m not suffering already. The airlines hoick the price up so that Mums like me have to pay nearly double what everyone else does for the privilege of giving their little ones a holiday somewhere sunny.

For now, I’ve told the big one that if she’s going to learn about such things, then she has to study hard at school and become a scientist so that she can invent an alternative to fossil fuel.  Which would mean that we could fly to our holiday home guilt-free.  And if she does that, then I’ll get her and the middle one a dog.

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