Make A Difference2019-09-04T13:01:30+01:00

THE CONSUMER

EVERYONE CAN AND SHOULD BE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

There are many ways we can help our environment, and indeed many of us are already doing our bit to a lesser or greater extent.  To make a start is extremely simple – for instance, just ensuring you don’t leave the hot water tap running in the bathroom – from small actions, bigger ones will grow. The truth is that each and every one of us need to engage in a green way. 

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LOCAL BUSINESSES

SHOW YOUR CUSTOMERS THAT YOUR COMPANY HAS A GREEN CONSCIENCE

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WHY “GREEN”?

Green is great!

Designating the colour green to our environmental issues makes full sense, ‘green’ is the colour of our natural world where conditions are abundant for growth, indicating health and diversity. Below we touch on some of the major issues.

‘Green’ is complex – should we be talking ‘sustainability’ instead?2019-05-07T11:52:45+01:00

The buzzword at the moment is sustainability, there are many definitions:

  • Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
  • A way for people to use resources without the resources running out.
  • The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance:

Sustainability is great, and makes perfect sense, because there’s no getting away from the fact that we’re all consumers, so using resources that can then be recycled and are non-polluting is the way forward, although I’d say that ‘green’ is a step up, less concerned about consuming, more concerned with questioning the requirement for our consumption in the first place, and indeed, if we need to consume, then how we are able to have minimal impact.

What’s being Green?2019-05-07T11:53:58+01:00

Is ‘green’ an activity, or a mindset – it has to be both, and in combination.  Firstly, we all have to become green-minded and take responsibility at a personal level for our polluting activity. So in our daily life, ensuring lights are switched off when leaving a room – did we actually need a light on in the first place?  This sort of basic reasoning has to take place within the individual.  Then at a more advanced level, we need to be planning ‘greenness’ into our major activity such as housing, transport, manufacturing, food consumption, etc.

There’s much wrong with our day-to-day consumption of goods, the biggest issue at the moment being food and drink. There’s a myriad of issues surrounding this subject area, probably the major one at the moment being packaging.  How our Government or indeed Europe haven’t managed to clamp down and bring in legislation to ensure packaging is regulated and conforms to strict recycling standards is nothing short of incredible.  We’ve flown to the moon, do we not have the ability to resolve the appalling situation at the moment with our food and drink packaging?

Better government and politicians2019-05-10T15:21:07+01:00

Perhaps the past two years at Westminster has highlighted just how ineffective our Government and political system remains. None of us can be in any doubt that we need a much higher level of professionalism from our politicians.  The most important question to ask is should our MPs be paid a higher annual wage and all their directorships, consultancies and other similar commercial activity be terminated by making this illegal whilst in office.  A measure that would undoubtedly prevent MPs from being lobbied by the big supermarkets, big businesses, internet giants and suchlike, which would hopefully mean something effective could be achieved in helping our environment and the planet.

Do people understand how to be green2019-05-07T11:54:37+01:00

Would it be fair to say that everyone must surely be aware of the issues?  We must all take responsibility, again, the most simple measures such as turning lights off when leaving rooms, easy, money saving and ultimately green!  Our schools are certainly doing much these days to ensure our future generations are prepared for change, but we do need to see a major shift in the attitude of each and every individual in order to make green progress.  Schools are vital in this process, but as the media has become more fragmented due to digital diversity taking place, it’s difficult to get a solid message out to the entire population through a single channel these days, the Government need to be instrumental in this.

Issues that require immediate redress2019-05-07T11:54:59+01:00

We all need to become more vocal where we see squandering of our resource, I say ‘our’ because when it comes down to resources such as energy, food, etc., it’s something we all expect and need to access within a civilised society.

An un-green scenario – you go shopping.  It’s winter, it’s cold, the shop door is wide open, there’s a hot air blower situated above the door which goes some way to maintaining the temperature inside the premises.  A marketing stance by the company running the shop, perhaps the company feels that having the door open will automatically bring more people into their shop and increase sales?  Yes, the shop could argue it’s their decisions to make, as it’s paying for the heat energy being lost through the open doorway, but it’s a blatant waste of a resource that is polluting and this should not be allowed to happen. With appropriate legislation, is this not something local council could police – they have received new powers recently to impose fines (a horrible situation I know!), but in this instance it could be effective at stopping such waste.

Single use – it’s fair to say that this term has come to symbolise all that’s wrong with our consumerist society. The term single use has come to be associated with coffee shop chains, public pressure is working and these companies are starting to sell reusable cups behind the counter, but again legislation to close the door is needed on single use coffee cups.  I was walking around a pharmacy the other day and came across a single use camera.  The message here is use it, throw it away, again this should be a no-no for retailers and if legislation is absent, then social media should be used to shame them into action. The tragedy though, is that most of our food and drink packaging is ‘single use’, let us not lose sight of that blaring fact!

‘Our’ resources – or – sold to the highest bidder2019-05-07T11:55:13+01:00

Another very pertinent question to ask is should one person have access to more energy than another person by virtue of the fact that they can afford to pay more for it?  Energy production is subsidised by government, ultimately by the UK tax paying public as a whole. So in reality we all have shared ownership of energy, it’s a limited resource, requiring massive government subsidies and certainly when it comes to fossil fuels, is extremely polluting. So the question for the un-green scenario posed in the previous paragraph about pumping hot air into an open doorway, is that if we do have common ownership of energy, then should we have a right to restrict waste – again it comes down to our lack of legislation and our ineffective political system. In the interim, public action can be used to effect change.

Frustration2019-05-07T11:55:24+01:00

Undoubtedly people generally are frustrated at the lack of action and progress with green matters. It’s something that’s become very apparent to us over the past couple of year in our dealings with many businesses and public members.  It all appears to be doom and gloom, but it really doesn’t need to be, positive action will just go on to spur even more positive action. But the whole process needs a kick-start, and concerted, professional ongoing effort to make headway. Proud to be Green is here to focus on businesses, they need encouraging to think and act greener, but not red tape and excessive regulation, it’s more about the mindset in terms of them realising ‘green’ is part and parcel of their operation.

Chucking waste in the ground2019-05-07T11:55:36+01:00

As a civilised society, this is about as primitive as it gets, there’s something very disturbing about this concept, once we’ve run out of land to bury our waste what then?  I was at a recycling centre in East Devon where the guy on site said “none of this gets buried here, it all gets taken over to France to be buried”.  Don’t we have to be responsible for our own waste, not just handing over cash to get it out of sight? Recycling needs to be carried out at a micro level, even if we have to pay additionally for it, let’s do it, but properly!

Buying cheap2019-05-07T11:55:49+01:00

The whole way we act as consumers should be put to question.  The basic message, particularly with web companies such as Amazon, is buy it as cheap as you can. Yes, as a consumer it’s great, cheap means you have more money then available to spend on even more cheap items. What’s amazing is how you can order products that will literally be shipped from the other side of the world for next to nothing.  Think of the environmental cost of the shipping/air freighting an item from China!  The problem now of course being that much of the products we buy are made overseas.  We have to begin to rebuild our own manufacturing, where we can keep control of pollution and waste.

As consumers we need to change the emphasis from buying cheap to buying locally made high quality products wherever possible. We should also consider the life span of items purchased, will higher quality ensure we get extended use, which ultimately lowers the environmental cost?

Use less, pay more2019-05-07T11:56:04+01:00

Waste is abhorrent, we all need to be more economical in many ways.  This comes back to consumption, if we can lower this, there’s an instant benefit and there are many ways to achieve this in your daily life.  Food is a particular area where we seem to be wasteful.  The amount of food thrown into our food bins is staggering, equally the supermarkets throw out thousands of tons over the year.  Food is a really valuable resource that deserves greater respect. The other question is should we be growing more food in the UK and importing less from Europe?  And also, should we be concentrating on the quality of our food, rather than quantity, particularly in terms of pesticide use, which ultimately we ingest.  There has to be a link here with cancer, today we’re the plastic/pesticide generation, nothing we eat escapes the chemical food chain.

Buying local2019-05-07T11:56:20+01:00

Over the past few years across Devon, we’ve been responsible for running a scheme called Shop Local.  The message if simple and powerful. Supporting our local retail sector means our local economies are more vibrant, and towns retain their soul.  The money spent circulates locally, residents benefit.  Conversely, money spent online with the internet giants gets sucked out of our local economy, and country. The internet giants pay virtually no tax, so our councils receive minuscule benefit from tax revenue on sales to fund our local resources. If we are prepared to spend more on locally made products, which we buy from local shops, this is the ultimate scenario in which we’re really helping the environment.  Use your local shops, ideally selling locally made, green products.

Internet giants2019-05-07T11:56:36+01:00

Where do we start here, I think this comes back to the paragraph above Better government and politicians.  The internet giants ride roughshod over us all, escaping taxation, sucking valuable resources out of our local economies and country.  We have a government body called the Monopolies and Mergers Commission – have they all gone to sleep?  Giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon seem to profit from incredibly beneficial conditions when trading in our country.  Their combined efforts have decimated many business sectors over the past decade, They operate in a unique cyber world of their own making, with seemingly zero accountability at country level. The blame lies squarely with our politicians, it’s obviously not in their interests to effect reforms, perhaps because they have their hands in the till so to speak!

China and overseas importing2019-05-07T11:56:48+01:00

It could be argued that what we’ve effectively done in the UK is to farm-out manufacturing to the lowest bidder, also farming out any pollution associated with the manufacturing processes. What ever happened to Buy British, wasn’t there a time when our government promoted buying British?  Of course, much of the technology products we buy are made overseas in extremely sophisticated manufacturing plants, so there’s not a lot we can do if buying something like a mobile phone, but perhaps the message is to buy products that meet all your requirements and just look after them, makings sure they serve a long life in your ownership.

The Economy2019-05-07T11:57:33+01:00

Much is wrong with our government, one of the issues I’ve never seen addressed is the hypocritical conflict between the state of the economy and how this ties into sustainability.  We’re told that for the economy to be healthy, it needs to be experiencing a cycle of sustained economic growth.  This means businesses expanding, creating more factories, using more resources – this runs counter to sustainability in most cases.  It’s a major conflict that never gets discussed.  We all need to understand how this conflicting situation is resolved into a workable solution.

Transport2019-05-10T15:22:34+01:00

Dr Beeching in the early 1960s was responsible for something of a calamity, having produced his Beeching Report as it became known, for which he was vilified ever since.  To his credit, he did what he had to at the time, with the arrival of cheap personal transport such as the Austin Mini, costing little more than a motorcycle and sidecar setup. In terms of public passengers on the trains, they were running empty, so something radical needed doing.  The tragedy is that we now need those train lines back, many of which have been built upon. If you’re talking about transport for the masses, trains are the solution.  However, the greater issue is that of commuting, with the technology we now have at our disposal, shouldn’t businesses where possible, be encouraging employees to work from home?  Home-working is green. Getting back to the subject of motor vehicles, you wonder if it’s really necessary for individuals to drive around in massive 4×4 or indeed any gas guzzling vehicle?  It’s difficult, people love their vehicles for many reasons, but personal transport is a luxury, we need to look at efficiency and ensure we’re not driving around needlessly.  Electric cars are still lacking, charging times, range, these are big issues, but hybrid are currently a much more practical solution.  Incidentally, if we did all drive electric vehicles, no one has said anything about the subject of electric generation, it still can be polluting, you’re just farming out the pollution away from your vehicle, is this vehicle nimbyism should we ask?

Pesticides vs Organic2019-05-07T11:58:08+01:00

If you spray poisons onto food crops and then eat them, won’t you be ingesting poisons?  Isn’t this obvious?  This comes back to growing higher quality food, ideally organically produced, and then wasting less, although we’ll probably pay more for this type of food stuff.

Weedkillers & Wildlife2019-05-07T11:58:21+01:00

Nuclear gardens – a term coined to describe domestic gardens where not a blade of grass is out of place (let’s not discuss plastic grass, which has been the fad over the past few years!).  Shouldn’t we be thinking about our wildlife, perhaps with a view to ensuring we factor in a corner of the garden for our wildlife?  It’s not difficult to do, a small pond, some native plants that support insect and bird life.  What continues to amaze me is when I see gardeners, liberally spraying their garden with poisons, or professional gardeners strapping chemical tanks onto their back to blast the garden with poisons – are they mad?  Again, we are not immune to the effects of poisons, OK we’re not going to instantly keel over like insects do when sprayed, but it all gets absorbed into our bodies, make no mistake, these type of consumer poisons are bad news and should now be outlawed.

Our Rivers2019-05-07T11:58:42+01:00

Unfortunately it’s a fact that many of our rivers are polluted. Many of our heavily polluted rivers have improved dramatically over the past few decades, but many also still suffer from agricultural run-off type of pollution, even in what you’d regard as pristine countryside – you can’t see this type of pollution, but it’s there year round.  There’s something incredibly simple that we could do to not only prevent this type of pollution, but to also support our riverside wildlife, that’s by creating ‘wild’ boundaries along the banks of rivers.  It’s simple, creating a buffer zone along river banks will prevent harmful chemicals and slurry emptying straight into our rivers, which kills much of the invertebrate and fish life in the process.  Again something that legislation would solve in a single step, here we again return to the issue of the lack of political action – this is something that should have been done decades ago!

Flying2019-05-07T11:58:53+01:00

We all love to travel abroad and explore, but I’m afraid the downside is that flying is an environmentally damaging activity.  It’s very hard, even if you’re a stalwartly green thinking and acting type of person, not to at some point, cross the boundary into being hypocritical.  We’re all guilty here, we need to fly less if we can, it’s that simple.

BEEF CATTLE FARMING2019-08-23T15:31:05+01:00
We all realise that we have to eat less meat and news that the IPPC recently broadcast (Aug 2019) has put another nail in the coffin of this sector of farming.  But we must be aware that the range includes highly intensity cattle farming to low intensity, organic methods.  There is a massive difference and if we’re going to point the finger, then it has to be the intensive type of cattle farming that’s really doing the damage.  This is something we will be discussing on our Proud to be Green YouTube channel shortly.

The above covers just a very small part of all the issues surrounding ‘green’, which is a massive subject area.  What we’ve attempted to do is discuss ‘green’ in the context of the Proud to be Green project.

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