Hello! How’s your week been? Over on Instagram this week, for fun, I shared the story of how I got into environmentalism (spoiler: I don’t come from an environmentally progressive family).
Also, thanks so much for your response to my post on why plastic-free isn’t always the best for the environment. It’s an incredibly complex world we live in, isn’t it?
This week’s links:
1. The absolute best thing I read this week was this: “I work in the environmental movement – I don’t care if you recycle” by one of my favourite people I follow on Twitter – Mary Annaïse Hegler.
When people come to me and confess their green sins, as if I were some sort of eco-nun, I want to tell them they are carrying the guilt of the oil and gas industry’s crimes. That the weight of our sickly planet is too much for any one person to shoulder. And that that blame paves the road to apathy, which can really seal our doom.
But that doesn’t mean we do nothing. Climate change is a vast and complicated problem, and that means the answer is complicated too. We need to let go of the idea that it’s all of our individual faults, then take on the collective responsibility of holding the true culprits accountable. In other words, we need to become many Davids against one big, bad Goliath.
2. There was bad news aplenty this week, with a report being issued on the likely outcomes if we take no action. It’s quite grim reading, so, bearing in mind what Mary Annaïse Hegler wrote, let’s become those Davids against the Goliath. Not sure where to start? This article is a useful guide on what we should be lobbying the Government on. Here are the contact details for your local MP. Roll your sleeves up and let’s get on with it!
3. India is experiencing a severe heatwave, and a delayed monsoon season, which has seen clashes among locals over access to scarce water supplies and caused monkeys to kill each other. The vet who performed the autopsies said herbivores don’t normally indulge in such conflicts, but in the face of dwindling water and rising temperatures, it seems they acted out of desperation.
5. Waitrose has launched a bulk refill service in it’s Oxford store, as a trial. Undoubtedly this is great, but I would love to see a supermarket that caters to a wider demographic of shoppers taking this up.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s is changing how it sells its loose fruit, vegetables, and bakery items. Plastic bags will no longer be available for these items – customers must bring their own bags or buy a re-usable bag made from recycled materials.
6. Hats off to Ethiopia, who are planting 4 billion trees before August. That’s August 2019. The hugely ambitious project aims to transform degraded environments, and in doing so foster healthy lives and functional ecosystems, e.g. by helping tackle mudslides and soil erosion, At the same time, work will be done to remove invasive water-hungry species such as eucalyptus. Western countries should take note.
Being overly prescriptive about how others ought to respond to the current ecological breakdown is dangerous when not everyone is cut out for the same kind of work, and to say that no one should ever start a new sustainable brand again is probably too reductive. But what is clear is that with a timeline this short to combat the climate crisis, in a world that already contains more than enough apparel to clothe every human alive, would-be brand founders need to make sure they’re starting with the right set of questions.
8. I learned something new this week – only white or clear plastic is in demand from recyclers. Apparently, the cosmetics industry manufactures plastic bottles in bright and dark colours, knowing full well they will never be recycled simply because of the colour, all in the name of branding.
“It all comes down to economics,” says Sarah Teeter, global project manager of recycling company TerraCycle. “Recyclers can only sustain themselves by recovering and recycling the things that are profitable.” That means that, ultimately, recycling is a business and, as of now, only clear and white plastic sells“.
This is the heart of greenwashing: Cleverly disguising the real eco-footprint of a product to sell to consumers who are interested in being more environmental, but are not yet educated on the ins and outs.
9. Wild bees are building their nests from plastic and nobody knows why. Scientists can only speculate if this is beneficial – e.g. by forming a barrier against common nest issues like mold and parasites – or harmful to the bees.
10. Finally, a powerful reminder.