February has been an exciting month because SPRING IS COMING! Just when I was starting to think that it really was going to be muddy, cold and miserable forever, the first flowers are finally peeking their heads up. Here are the celandine and snowdrops on my way to work:
The river where we go swimming is still a chilly three to four degrees Celsius (around 38 Fahrenheit) so I know ‘proper’ spring is still a way off, but it turns out it isn’t going to be winter forever. Continue reading “Spring is coming!”→
In December 2016, I watched a film called The True Cost. It’s about fast fashion, and showed the awful working conditions endured and the environmental devastation caused by our throwaway attitude to clothes.
In particular, the film looks at the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in 2013. If you haven’t heard of Rana Plaza, you will almost certainly own items bought from a brand who had some of their clothes made there – J.C. Penney, Matalan, Benetton, Primark, Zara – to name a few.
In total, 1,134 people died and 2500 were injured when the factory collapsed on 24th April 2013. The incident shone a light into the dreadful conditions that people working in the garment industry were subject to, and the huge cost they paid with their lives so that those of us in richer countries can buy clothes at such a cheap price. Continue reading “The ‘no new clothes for a year’ challenge”→
There’s few things I love more as a treat than to snuggle under a blanket on the sofa and watch a great documentary. Films are a great way to learn without really trying when you’re having a lazy day, or introduce friends or family to new concepts without feeling like you’re lecturing them. These are some of my favourites, covering plastic pollution, simple living, waste, the ocean, climate change and fast fashion. All of them are beautifully made, by passionate, interesting people who will (hopefully) leave you feeling inspired and ready to take action.
The freebies – films freely available online (legally!)
A Plastic Whale: This is part of the series of short films made by Sky. It is the story of the body of a whale that washes up on the coast of Norway, found to have died as a result of consuming so much plastic. The documentary follows a team of scientists and interested members of the public as they look to use the tragedy to highlight the growing effects of plastic on ocean creatures. Continue reading “Green on screen: 10 must-see environmental films”→
A common criticism of environmentalists by other environmentalists is the focus on ‘small wins’ – things like energy efficient light bulbs, swapping to canvas shopping bags, saying no to plastic straws. The criticism is usually that this is a ‘rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic’ approach – something akin to “for god’s sake, sea levels are rising, the planet is warming, the oceans are acidifying, and your signature on an online petition, or using a reusable coffee cup isn’t going to fix this! We need huge, systematic change.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m under no illusion here, I know swapping to eco-friendly bathroom cleaner is not going to prevent the sixth mass extinction event that is currently underway. We cannot beach clean ourselves to a maximum 1.5C degree rise in global temperatures.
But it IS important. It’s important because of what it says about our collective mindset.
What started me thinking about this was watching a screening of Before the Flood, an environmental documentary presented by Leonardo Di Caprio. A particular quote in the film struck me:
Politicians are not elected leaders, they are elected followers. They will do what consensus wants.
Politicians represent their constituents. Extrapolating to wider society, businesses make or procure objects and services for consumers to buy. Politicians who don’t do what the electorate want get voted out, and companies that make products that no one buys go out of business. Continue reading “Why small actions matter”→
Earlier this year, I went to see A Plastic Ocean as part of the Raindance Film Festival in London. Directed by Craig Leeson and starring world-record breaking freediver Tanya Streeter, it’s a film about how plastics get into the ocean, the devastating effects they have, and what can be done about it. I thought my trip to see it would end up being a one-person event, as whilst many of my friends politely humour me about my enthusiastic commitment to avoiding plastic, I appreciate that for many people it’s a bit of niche subject and perhaps not what you go to the cinema to see.
So I’m counting down the hours, because Friday, 14th October is the day that the Zero Waster’s Travel Companion goes on sale! A helpful guide to take you round the world whilst looking after it 🙂
This project was the idea of the lovely Inge, who blogs over at www.gruenish.com and is the brains behind the Zero Waste Bloggers Network. She has worked her socks off, and lots of us have been helping, each contributing a chapter on where you can eat, shop and live zero waste in a whole host of cities across the world!
Sustainable Book Club is a great initiative from Zoe Morrison of Eco Thrifty Living, where environmentally-minded people can come together on Twitterand Facebook to chat over our chosen reading material. My suggestion was This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein (non-Amazon shopping link – no affiliation). I chose this book because rarely have I experienced a non-fiction book that brought me so close to tears, that made me so angry, and so inspired me into action.
Lots of us take personal action on a daily basis against environmental destruction by consuming less, making better and more local food choices, rejecting excess packaging, reusing, mending and so on. All great things, but this book isn’t really about that. Instead, this book starts at the very top of society, looking at the destruction and selling off of our environment by governments and corporations. It calls for a complete overhaul of how countries and businesses conduct themselves, treat their citizens and looks at reinventing the entire global capitalist society. It is quite simply, huge. Continue reading “Sustainable Book Club: This Changes Everything”→
I recently joined Sustainable Book Club, run by Zoe Morrison of one of my favourite blogs, EcoThriftyLiving. We have just read and discussed Stuffocation by James Wallman.
Stuffocation is about the idea that materialism and our materialist culture is bad for our health and wellbeing, our society and the environment and suggests that the way forward is ‘experientialism’ – a way of living and creating a social order based on what we do, not what we have.
I loved parts of the book, but others I found frustrating in equal measure. The chapter ‘The Original Mad Men and the job of Creating Desire’ was a fascinating interpretation of history looking at the decision of advertisers and manufacturers moving towards trying to guide people into a lifestyle of wanting more, rather than making the decision to manufacture less. I found myself imagining a life where we had moved to a society with less stuff and more leisure time, and felt really rather sad at where we have ended up instead!