If I take the tram and the bus, it will take forever. I’ll need to wear a mask, and I ought to test myself first. That creates a lot of single use plastic. Two tests a week per adult in the UK creates 50,000 cubic metres of plastic waste. 50 average houses full. 50,000 tonnes. 1,500 twenty-foot containers. If I drive I’ll be using energy that pollutes and it may be difficult to park. I opt for public transport. Another test soon, then?

“It’s good to talk face to face,” they say. “It’s nice to meet you in person at last. But your hair’s different from your photo.”

“I grew it in lockdown.” But I have been to the hairdresser since and I cringe as I think how they’ve replaced their cotton gowns with plastic.

The energy is different, indeed. It is good to see people in the flesh. Zoom was okay, though.

They provide us with sandwiches in plastic wrappers. There are paper cups and serviettes. But which is worse, detergent in the water system or plastic waste in landfill?

We can take off our masks to eat. We shiver because of the open windows.

My husband cooks our evening meal. He uses fresh ingredients. Why would anyone not? It’s easy. We do eat meat. Organic meat. Just twice a week. But it still farts and warms the air. And what of those that have to rely on processed food? With its hyperbolic packaging?

I work in my book-lined study. I am surrounded by dead trees. Alive ones dance outside my window. Are they sweetening the air?

I try to be paperless. I rely on my screens and keyboards. It seems sensible. But. Their light distorts my body clock. And what of all that whirring and huffing from the servers? That compromises the air, doesn’t it? And how often is the energy created through fossil fuels? Still?

Can we be gentler with the earth? Must we always be doing? I resolve to take more time just to sit and stare. Just to be.

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    2 years ago

    Wow, Gill, your story really hits home. All those choices you listed seem to contain some degree of threat to the fragile balance of man and nature – what are the right choices? Quite a predicament for sure. But your last three sentences offer the best choices. By simply being we not only can help heal the planet, but find a deeper meaning in the simplest things. We really don’t need to… Read more »

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    2 years ago

    I liked it, Gill. Especially the different choices that you offer for a well-balanced world. A nice story, Gill.

    Susan Dawson
    Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
    2 years ago

    I guess if you stay in on your own then you don’t need to open the windows and doors and can keep the heating down. I am sure we all dread this clamour for ventilation as autumn approaches, especially in places like schools where people have to sit all day.

    Dipayan Chakrabarti
    Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
    2 years ago

    Nice work, Gill. Your story ends perfectly.

    2 years ago

    Gill, the picture that accompanies your story is so beautiful. Where did you find it? I could sit for hours and contemplate the water, trees and skies in the picture. It fits your last paragraph perfectly. Thank you for reminding us to slow down.

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