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Conserving women

Zahrah Nasir

Movements for saving the earth, for saving wild life, saving seals, saving trees, saving energy, saving water, and so on, proliferate at the speed of sound, which is all fine and dandy unless, that is, you happen to be of the female species which, unfortunately, appears to take the brunt of saving the future at the cost of themselves!
The problem being, that when it comes to saving anything, it is women who are expected to be on the frontline battle stations, commanding all and sundry in the household, along with any unsuspecting visitor who happens to drop by, to stick to whatever rules of conservation currently apply.

“Switch off the fan it isn’t needed, turn out the light when you leave the room, don’t flush the loo unless its really necessary, you can wear that top again before putting it to the wash, don’t use tissues use a handkerchief instead, save that newspaper, empty bottle, tin et al for recycling to the tin/paper wallah and remember to unplug the computer/television when not in use.”

A once delicately nurtured, even pampered, if she was lucky, young woman has been condemned by society, read ‘men’, to take on an ogress persona combined with, what some people consider ‘Scrooge’ like habits, all aimed at reducing the poisonous emissions contributing to global warming but, the increasingly hard won rupees saved in the process count for very little when balanced against increased angst and vastly increased female labour.

Even the once enjoyable pleasure of a simple task like shopping becomes an agonising challenge when keeping all that is ‘environmentally sustainable’ in mind: Is the packaging recyclable? Is it manufactured from ecologically farmed trees? Does the artwork contain biodegradable colours? Was it produced using slave labour? Are the contents organic? Are the contents free from noxious chemicals? Were the farmers who produced the basic ingredients paid enough to maintain a roof over their heads? Were children exploited anywhere along the line? Is the expensive, including the planet polluting price of carbon fumes generated by transport, foreign brand any better than its locally produced, therefore less travelled, equating ‘environmentally safer’ counterpart just as good? …These conundrums all to be solved before deciding if the product is actually and healthily edible and, perhaps more to the point, will the family relish it or turn their collective noses up in sheer disgust?

Selecting toiletries and household cleaning products without adding to planetary destruction can be enough to drive anyone crazy as, if you study the list of ingredients which should be on the packet/container somewhere, although often in so fine a print that a magnifying glass is needed to decipher it, there is, inevitably a no-no included.

Items being sold as ‘organic’, this much abused word being prominently placed, are often nothing of the sort and anything which boasts of containing such ethereal, incredibly endangered ingredients such as those emanating from fast disappearing rain forests rarely live up to the claim and, if they do, should be banned…immediately if not sooner.

If the lady concerned happens to be balancing on the environmental ball she will, naturally, have ventured out on her dangerous, brain sapping mission armed to the teeth with eco-friendly shopping baskets and the like, so that she can avoid an avalanche of lethal plastic bags and will, quite likely, be glared at with disbelieving scorn by shopkeepers who fail to understand the scenario, dubiously doubting her sanity if she helpfully attempts to explain why she doesn’t want a ‘shopper’.

It is in the family ‘nest’ though that women are, if they aren’t scrupulously careful, environmentally exploited to the nth degree: All those labour saving devices, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, food processors, tea machines, coffee machines, bread makers, toasters, microwave ovens, fridges, freezers, washing machines, spin dryers, etc, that devour electricity, when it happens to be on these days, which are fast falling out of favour with the ‘save the planet’ lobby as, along with their nasty power consumption, the non-biodegradable, often non-recyclable ‘bits’ they are made up of are what get the green movement annoyed. So, if being honestly true to the environmental creed, all of these aforementioned luxuries must go, which is to say that the lady of the house is expected to save the planet for future generations, those currently plugged in to I-pods, laptop computers and smart phones as they debate saving turtles with friends, by reverting to hours and hours of debilitating elbow grease not to mention hands and knees, good old fashioned housework.

The planet must be saved of course, along with all and everything on it but, let’s face it, the male of the species needs to put himself on the saviours wagon too, not leave everything to already stressed out females whose efforts are rarely appreciated in this respect. As for environmentally minded women and their unappreciated, unpaid labourÂ…you are all priceless and don’t ever forget it!

The writer is a freelance columnist.
Source: The Nation

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