one voice, all rise up
a tide of humanity
to charge will and act.
Happy Sunday everyone!
Hopefully, you’re having had a lovely day so far. I’m cuddled up with a cuppa after an afternoon planning a cheese costume, but more on that later. This is my first Sustainable Sunday post in a while. Things have been very hectic with hospital etc but I’m regaining my rhythm in the chaos. Today I want to concentrate on the inspiring stuff. (More info on what I’ve been doing while offline can be found by reading The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, but its not all light reading.)
I had to say something about the incredible Climate Change Strikes happening around the world. On Friday hundreds gathered in our city, joining many thousands across the whole world. If you were at one of these strikes I’d love to here from you in the comments section! This tide of action was started a little over a year ago by schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, who is quite frankly a hero of mine. These strikes have called governments, big businesses and the rest of us to account on the threat posed by climate change to current and future generations. The message to those in power is simple; act now or expect rebellion. Much of the science and technology needed to live in future-safe ways is already available. What is lacking is will power and the culture or mindset of meaningful change now. The stakes are as high as they can be with most environmental, social and political problems we currently face fuelled at least in part by climate chaos.
But the children have spoken and reminded us of our own collective and individual agency to turn the tide a wave at a time.
It is easy to feel exhausted and apathetic, even nihilistic about the whole thing and many of Greta’s generation wrongly believe we don’t care. It can feel an uphill struggle trying to be green, especially as most of us have other struggles in our lives. Drastically reducing single-use plastic, for example, is harder when on the face of it, it’s currently cheaper and easier for almost every business to use it. Shops and online stores pack everything in the stuff, and that’s before you say no to a plastic carrier bag. It could and should be made easier to live better without having potential guilt trips associated with each purchase or decision navigating ethical minefields. Calling governments and big businesses to account using peaceful protest and direct non-violent action is becoming something increasingly routine, and increasingly hard to ignore.
There are numerous ways governments can help, from re-examining unfair and destructive trade deals, to ending subsidies to big oil companies and increasing subsidies for greener energy. There are compostable alternatives to plastic which governments could help subsidize and promote using funds that could be taken from pollution taxes on the worst corporate offenders. Likewise, there is technology available to create, not just energy-efficient buildings, but energy independent ones. Schools, gyms, hospitals, and other public spaces could be particularly or wholly powered by kinetic energy created by underfloor pressure pads or exercise equipment connected to generators. Solar, wind and other renewable and minimal waste sources, together with clever architecture, or just good windows and insulation, could lead to almost zero waste homes. Most of this is possible now. Yet government building regulations and industry codes of conduct are lagging behind the needs of our times.
No, we can’t just rely on leaders to wake up and act. Our everyday choices matter, there’s no way around that, though to sometimes I wish there was. We live in an old house, I’m confined to bed, chair or wheelchair and have allergies and health issues. We have a limited budget and a shared addiction to crisps. Honesty, we can polish off mega-packs in minutes when stressed, it’s disturbing! We’re also both nearly vegan and try to keep our diet tasty, healthy and varied. We’re constantly trying to limit waste, avoid palm oil, buy local whenever we can and get around on public transport. No, it’s not always possible.
Governments could and should do so very much more to make living in ways that protect the future easier, more affordable and more commonplace. Gone are the days when green could be seen as a luxury but it’s often marketed that way. I’ve signed up for climate strikes and will be involved in any way I can. Connected to this, we’ve signed up for the upcoming Extinction Rebellion, beginning October 7th too. We’ll only be able to be involved in relatively safe, organised actions. We only choose to join in because the proposed actions are non-violent but a still a threat to the apathy of those in positions of privilege and influence.
The day before I’ll be dressed as a giant cheese wheeling through my city as part of an event our group Nott Normal is behind. There is a reason a lactose sensitive near-vegan is doing this bizarre act. It is to commemorate the 1766 Cheese Riots in our city, when most ordinary people could not afford food. There was a series of national uprisings and acts of civil disobedience to force the lowering of prices to fairer levels and to promote better working and living standards. Our event has been okayed by the local council. As well as hopefully being a fun our family-friendly event we will be gathering donations for local foodbanks. We’ll also be raising awareness of food poverty and some of its triggers. Climate chaos is part of the quagmire causing rising hunger, creating failed harvests and rising costs. Our ‘Big Cheese Roll’ maybe a drop in the ocean but it is a way for people to come together and demand action while doing what we can collectively ourselves to seed necessary changes in a spirit of unity and mutual support.
Going back to the protests of last Friday, we were particularly inspired by a group of senior citizens in Dorset, the oldest being 90 years old. They were arrested while protesting the effects of climate change on food security. They lay down on roads and disrupted traffic as part of a wider protest. This may seem irresponsible but they were underlining just how fragile our food systems are. As the threat of hard Brexit threatens food getting in or out of this country it is a timely protest, as well as a reminder about just how interconnected we and our ecosystems are. I’m aware that for those senior citizens this is a battle they are fighting for future generations as well as for themselves. They also acted to protect the freedoms they struggled to gain and keep in decades past.
Will I be lying on a road? Not unless my wheelchair spins out of control. I will stick to dressing up as cheese and rolling through the town centre the day before The Extinction Rebellion. I’d love to hear what you may have done or may be planning to do to peacefully protest climate change. Maybe the marches and online protests aren’t your thing and you prefer to write or draw your thoughts and feelings?
If you’d like to catch up on some of our previous Sustainability Sundays just click on your choice of the links below. However you’re navigating these days I wish you a bountiful and joy-filled autumn!