The book brings together different topics about the environment. Here you will read columns written for the web portal Green Gate (Roheline Värav), excerpts from a weblog, short interviews with Estonian experts, and summaries from English-language bestsellers about the environment. It’s a compilation of the general and the specific, distant and close information. Why is there famine in Africa, why are the world seas polluted, where to take your old computer, how to cut back on electricity use at home, how to make home repairs in an environmentally friendly way? In addition to tips on living green, you can also find a green self-analysis in this book: is environmental awareness a new religion? Can one person alone change something in this consumer-centered world?
Alright, I enter: Tallinn – New York – Tallinn, round trip. Our four-membered traveling company will be responsible for generating 7.46 tons of carbon dioxide and if we want to “compensate” for it, we will have to pay 55 British pounds 94 cents, which converts to about 1,255 Estonian kroons. The money goes into projects that help diminish carbon dioxide in the world as much as we generate it – when I pay, I can choose which of the 50 currently working programs I prefer. Should I contribute to building wind turbines in India, energy efficient light bulbs in Kazakhstan, or restoring rainforests in Uganda?
Could this be a way to appease my guilty conscience? At the same time, I did hesitate for a moment and think whether I didn’t rush into atoning for our flying sins of our Christmas trip to New York. How do I really know that this Internet site will invest my money in Uganda, for example?
How about we do a little experiment? Wherever you are sitting at the moment, please look at what surrounds you and think: where was it made? How far did it travel to get to you?
I, for example, am sitting behind a very dignified desk – it comes from nearby, it’s the door to an old farmhouse to which a local craftsman called Uncle Bob has affixed legs. However, to my left there is a bookcase made of heavy, solid wood that had the sticker Made in Taiwan on it when we bought it. There are manila folders on the shelves that readMade in China. On the desk there’s a computer. I don’t know where it was made, but I suspect it was either China or India.
Clothes? I take a peek at the label on my pants: Made in China. The shirt is from Sri Lanka. Just a moment ago, my little child ran past the desk, I caught her and looked at her labels as well: the dress was Made in Malaysia and her tights are Made in China, as are her slippers.
There’s also a lamp on the table that we bought last year. I remember what it cost: $12.99. It seems so strangely cheap, now that I think about it. It’s made somewhere in a Chinese factory, packaged in Styrofoam, cardboard and plastic, shipped across the ocean to the other side of the world and now it costs less than the decent hourly wage of a New Yorker.
How can this be possible? Because, you see, air and water are resources that we get for free.