Perfection is a false picture, says Ali Schofield

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My first thought on being told I would have photos taken for this column was: “What am I going to wear?”

Not like that. I don’t obsess over my appearance. I’m not particularly self-conscious (until, it turns out, in front of a camera with a photographer suggesting I “try a silly face”, which I trust is not the one they used for this column… now that’s your surprised face, isn’t it?)

No, my issue was that I try to dress ethically.

I’m not perfect, but at some point I will write about the environmental issues I care about and some readers might cast a critical eye over my accompanying mug shot and suggest I try for ethical perfection before I start lecturing anyone else.

Of course, they wouldn’t be alone and they wouldn’t be wrong. Julie Burchill wrote, in a book of co-authored essays Not In My Name – A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy: “More than anything, Greens [her capitalisation] are hypocrites.”

She’s right. Search for perhaps the most prominent celebrity Green, Leonardo DiCaprio, on the internet and you’ll quickly find an outraged moral tripwire from the Daily Mail entitled “Leonardo DiCaprio picks up award for his environmental work… before spending a WEEK [their capitalisation] sailing round the Mediterranean on his luxury yacht”. Media and online commenters also suggest that Sir David Attenborough, having attributed global warming to overpopulation, should zip his hypocritical trap since he himself has contributed two offspring to the burgeoning smog-fest that is Earth.

When someone has the audacity to try to make some difference, be it by reducing meat consumption/riding a bike/trying to dress ethically, they will always be called out for hypocrisy – “Do you wear leather/still take car journeys/actually wear clothes then, tut tut?” – sometimes by those who do nothing themselves and often, sadly, by those who do.

But there is no attainable perfection for humans when it comes to environmental issues. Our mere existence is environmentally unfriendly.

For all DiCaprio campaigns on environmental issues and donates money to charity he also exhales carbon dioxide. Bloody WEEKS of the polluting stuff. The Dalai Lama, Sir Paul McCartney, Dame Vivienne Westwood, Caroline Lucas, Chris Packham, Brian May and even that national treasure and unbridled gas-bag sperm-machine Attenborough all exhale carbon dioxide.

Our only options are do something or do nothing.

Surely anyone who accepts that they will never achieve perfection but will at least do something should be left to it.

Where no one would expect a guy proudly wearing a Frank Zappa t-shirt to be able to recite the names of all 101 albums – an entirely achievable task – for some reason those taking up an environmental mantle are routinely scrutinised for imperfections despite there being no attainable perfection.

I bet when you bought this magazine no one rushed up to you and asked what else you were doing for homelessness. I certainly hope not. Although solving homelessness is a smidge more difficult than naming all 101 Zappa albums, it is at least in the realm of human possibility (suggestions on a postcard to David Cameron).

So I will continue to do something. That – in the face of nakedness – goes for what I wear, too.


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