There's an action on the Generous website called 'Try to shop local, organic, animal-friendly and Fairtrade.' I've not signed up yet as I've been trouble by a contradiction in this. We are encouraged to buy local foods to cut down on foodmiles, right? But then we're also encouraged to buy Fairtrade products, which by nature have a pretty high mileage. So what do I do? Eat bananas that are Fairtrade and thus support this system for reducing poverty and promoting economic equality in the third world, or do I buy local apples to cut down on carbon emissions and support local people? There's also the issue that few greengrocers stock Fairtrade fruit, which means I have to go to a supermarket.
This has got me thinking about other contradictions you can come across in trying to be generous. Here are a few:
* Voluntary Service Overseas is very laudible and hugely generous for obvious reasons. But how can you do it if, for instance, you've signed a flight pledge to say that, to reduce carbon emissions, you won't travel abroad by air?
* You go to the library to ensure that this valuable institution doesn't become obsolete, and also to reduce the number of books you buy and thus the amount of paper being used up. But what does this do to local bookshops, many of which are already struggling?
* Ethical banking is an area I looked into until I heard that certain well-known ethical banks rate pretty badly when it comes to looking after their staff. Should I go for a bank that may lend to dubious figures but treats its staff well, or one that treats its staff badly but won't use your money to fund the arms trade or other nasty stuff?
You see, I can recycle, turn the tap off when I'm brushing my teeth and be careful not to overfill my kettle, but go deeper and there are big questions that need answering. I'm not giving up, I'm just pausing for thought!