We are now back in Scotland after a great time in Denmark, but the holiday did make me think about the issues that occur when you go visiting – how do you keep up your green ways outside your normal daily life?
Obviously the situation very much depends on the people you are visiting. If you are visiting people with no green tendencies whatsoever you might want to consider how many hints you can drop without damaging the relationship, I can honestly say that I have been in situations where I thought it better to hold my tongue, rather than to go on a green crusade. Thankfully a lot of people actually are concerned about the Planet and are happy to discuss such issues, but even then a bit of normal politeness can be needed – you rarely get results from insulting people, especially in their own home.
Luckily we were staying at my parent’s house and as they have already put up with a lot from my side over the years a bit a green badgering didn’t really offend them…
So we arrived and although we were on holiday I was determined to not completely slip into old habits (especially since I had the carbon footprint of the flight to make up for). Did we manage?
To some extent yes – we didn’t make much use of the car, but we did some cycling and a lot of walking. In fact one of days I don’t think I was the most popular person in the world: we had agreed to go for a walk to the local park, a walk of about 20 min with 2 kids in tow. It was looking rather grey and there was a distinct possibility of rain, so the suggestion was made to bring the car in case heavy rain started. I objected furiously, saying that a bit of rain wouldn’t harm anybody, and we all agreed to walk. Unfortunately the wetness started already before we had made it to the park, although more of a drizzle than real rain, but on the way back the heavens opened and by the time we reached the house everybody were totally soaked! Nobody said anything, but I am sure that more than one person thought ‘I wish we had brought the car’.
The one slightly longer journey we made was done by train – an enjoyable trip, Danish trains are generally very nice; and then we seemed to spend quite a lot of time introducing our daughter to the technique of cycling without stabilisers!Surely that counts for something on the green scale.
But there are other elements of visiting that are slightly more out of your control, e.g. the food you eat. It is rather impolite to demand in season veggie meals and locally sourced meat, when people are in fact trying to cook you some nice food, because they are happy to see you. Just like I didn’t complain when my mum made a strawberry and blueberry dessert in the hope that the kids would eat something not made from cocoa beans – that was a very worthy cause, which certainly didn’t deserve a lecture on seasonal food (not to mention that it was delicious and the kids did eat it…)If people make an effort for you, I think that should always be appreciated.
I should probably add here as well that my parents are in fact quite conscious when it comes to food and they have been eating primarily organic food for years, so it was far from a complete return to ungreen ways.
So what do you do if there is something you really want mentioned when visiting people? My suggestion: bring a kid – they can get away with all sorts of things.
My daughter proved once again that she has caught on to some of the lifestyle changes when one day at the dinner table she turned to my mum and said “why are the lights on over there when there is nobody sitting there?” Kids can be great for getting a point across, and the lights got swithced off!
So all in all how green was this holiday? Well, flights aside, I don’t think we did too badly, it is possible to retain some green habits when you are away. However some concessions will often have to be made, because you are less in control of the details. I think the key question is the attitude of the people you are visiting, so if you don’t want to compromise, then I guess you need to pick your friends and family(!) with care.