I'm rather getting into The Environment ... while renewing old acquaintance with the quite remarkable art collections in Alnwick Castle, I found myself reading a little book hand-written by the first Duchess of Northumberland, one of the two Elizabeths who conveyed the honours of the ancient but extinct Percy family and its Earldom of Northumberland to the Smithsons in the middle of the eighteenth century. It details her own rules of life, including her self-imposed rules for washing. Apparently she did wash her hands every day, but once a month (sic) was good enough for her teeth, her feet, et cetera, and what she called a "bidet wash". And she was no peasant but a member of the most refined and genteel Georgian oligarchy.
How fascinating. It got me thinking about the use of water in our society. How much does it cost to purify water to the standard we expect in 'first world' countries? And to put taps into every human residence?Having expensively (I suspect) treated it and conveyed it, we individually use it to carry away not only what is delicately called 'body waste', but also the contents of our frequently voided bladders. We bath or shower at least once a day. Young women, I am led to believe, very commonly wash their hair (using electrical current to dry it) at least twice a day. The water which is thereby deposited into our sewers is full of the chemicals they have used to make their hair look the way that advertising and the media have instructed them is correct. I interpret television commercials to mean that shampoos used do in fact damage the hair, so that things called Conditioners have to be used to conceal the damage. If I'm getting all these details wrong, I'm sure someone will put me right.
How have we reached a situation in which hair so artificially treated, and bodies so obsessively washed (and caked with deodorants), are believed to be 'Natural'? And is it true that the contraceptive medicaments which our society pours into waste-water make fish develop the wrong gender characteristics? Why do we hear so little about the 'Environmental' costs and consequences of such a culture? Does it have anything to do with the imperatives of aggressive and greedy Capitalism?