As someone who cares about the environment, I have done everything right so far, but that’s just not enough for Sadiq Khan and the clean air obsessed eco zealots.
I was recycling cans long before kerbside collections, back when you had to soak the label off and take them to the dump. The dump, where I took my other recycling and my garden waste and picked up anything useful that someone else didn’t need. I was brought up never to throw litter or leave rubbish behind or put anything down the toilet that shouldn’t be there. I’ve taken an old bag shopping and haven’t bought a plastic water bottle in years.
At our first house we had the opportunity to have solar hot water due to a grant available at the time, so despite our meagre funds, we happily embraced this new technology and had many years of happy, gas free hot water from the system. We turned the heating down in winter to save the planet, wore pyjamas to bed with an extra blanket and bought a wood burner (although these are now almost as evil as cars).
Our garden has always been a wildlife haven with no pesticides used, water butts for collecting the rain and a compost heap for both garden and food waste. We have bought organic milk, veg from the farmers market and locally produced meat, often at quite a cost. We have an allotment and even manage to grow a few of our own vegetables when the weather and pests allow.
Our white goods and electricals have lasted many years, past when many would have upgraded. Our second hand Dualit toaster gets a new element if it breaks and our second hand fridge was good as new from the Heart Foundation shop. We keep our phones until they are painfully slow and no longer charge or run apps. We ask, is it really broken beyond use, can it be fixed and do we really need a new one?
I bought my first bike from the police auction of stolen goods and rode to work for many, many years. Not everyday, but certainly more often than not, good for me, good for congestion. I have had quite a lot of cars over the years, mostly very cheap second hand or hand me downs from the family. Every one of these cars was used to the very end of their lives, no fancy upgrades, no three year leasing deals, just bought maintained, repaired (like you used to be able to) and worn out with pride until they went back to the breakers yard where many of their parts came from.
So now we find ourselves vilified and punished for having the audacity to purchase a vehicle 13 years ago that was supposed to last a lifetime. A small inheritance allowed us to buy an iconic vehicle that was always a bit of a dream – a Landrover Defender. Defenders are designed to last forever, to be infinitely repairable, they are lumpy and uncomfortable but have all the carrying space we need and a special place in many people’s hearts. How were we to know that, 13 years later, we would be seen as an enemy of children’s lungs, the planet, the climate, and the cause of all the so called toxic air, that most people hadn’t really noticed that much until now?
No, we don’t want to sell our car, it’ll just end up polluting somewhere else, and to scrap it would be unthinkable. We have done our bit over the years and will continue to do what we can, but take away our freedom and we start to wonder what more do you want? Cars and fuels have improved no end since we purchased, unwisely it seems, in 2010 so please stop charging me £12.50 just to leave my house on the pretext of clean air, I’m in eco credit and if I lived 2 miles up the road I’d be free of Sadiq Khan’s new toll tax.