Kosovo is caught between two phases of development – the families who’ve hosted me here who live mainly deliciously home-grown and beautifully home-spun because they don’t have money to live otherwise, and the chic city folk friends of mine who aspire to conspicuous consumption, plastic and imports.
I can’t decide whether I’m living in an environmental disaster zone or a slightly grubby paradise. When the wind’s in the wrong direction in Pristina, where I live, you see a dirty smear across the sky from the power station which runs on brown coal; but it’s on those days that the particles in the air make the sunsets over the capital and its surrounding hills and mountains most stunning.
I’m caught just as confusingly myself. On the one hand I’m a long-term vegetarian beekeeper running an NGO which, among other things, has a ‘buy local’ campaign against imported mineral water. You can almost see my solar-powered eco-halo glowing. On the other hand if you open my kitchen cupboards you’ll find the packet mix for chocolate brownies I sneaked back from my last trip to the UK. Bad.
So am I an eco-saint or an eco-villain? I organize Kosovan children in leading their own local environmental projects, and then with the soil from a day’s tree-planting still under my nails, I board a plane to nip back to London for a few days consultancy (worse even than being an eco-villain would be to be an eco-hypocrite).
I try very hard to reduce, reuse, recycle; to be thoughtful, careful, not wasteful, but I feel I need an environmental audit of my lifestyle to check my priorities and how successful I’m being at achieving what I say I want to achieve. Sharing that process with the whole wide worldwide web would be a good way to make sure I do it properly.
So that’s what I want to get out of this project – by the end of eight weeks I’m hoping to be able to look that imported chocolate brownie packet mix in the eye. I’ll let you know how that goes…