PLEASE NOTE: This article is inspired by the recent stories of Sophie Lejeune, founder of Society Zero and the admirable efforts of Greta Thunberg about zero waste living and climate change. Thank you both for challenging me to the core. I would love to have an open conversation with you both ❤️
What are we prepared to do when we are faced with the impossible choice to lose now or lose later?
I do not know what my answer to this is yet.
What I know is that I feel an intense conflict rising inside of me.
A conflict that shape-shifts between anger, powerlessness, denial and sadness.
What am I talking about? *in case you are wondering*
I’m talking about my behaviour in the climate crisis.
I travel by bicycle everyday.
I don’t drive often ( but I do own an old second-hand diesel car).
I buy second-hand clothes from charity shops.
I recycle all our packaging and compost my food waste.
I I grow some of our food outside on my terrace.
I cook everything from scratch.
I keep my lunch in a reusable glass container.
I used LED lights throughout my well insulated flat.
I use a renewable energy utilities company.
I use solid shampoo and bamboo toothbrush.
I pick up rubbish when I find some in nature.
I use a reusable water bottle and a reusable coffee cup.
I go to bed thinking that, as a family, we are doing pretty well to do our bit to save the planet.
And if I stopped the story here, you would think that too, right?
But, just like everything, there is another part to the story.
I do eat meat.
Not often at all.
Meat that is as local to me as possible.
Always free range. From small farms.
But I do eat meat.
One of the biggest culprit of climate change.
I also fly.
Again, not often. Once or twice a year.
To see my family and friends back home (I am a French citizen who settled in Scotland 15 years ago)
And generally to see the world.
Because it so deeply inspires and excites me to immerse myself in other cultures, hear other languages, discover and learn from other people’s way of living and doing things.
And also, let’s be totally honest here, I also enjoy getting a bit of precious vitamin D from the winter sun at the darkest time of the winter in Scotland.
Another one of the biggest culprit of climate change.
So what does it make me?
Neil my partner said to me: “We have to accept that, because of this, we are not part of the solution.”
My behaviour, my very choices makes me “not the solution”.
And what makes me so deeply sad and ashamed is to not only not be part of the solution, but in fact to be part of the very problem.
And here is the conflict rising inside of me:
While giving up meat altogether is a very likely possibility, I also want to support small, local businesses that produce it on a small scale and respectfully of the land, because people who are doing things right do exist, and they need us. They do not destroy a natural habitat. In fact they enhance it. Transparent in their supply chain. Like Ardalanish on the isle of Mull, a farm down the road from me when I lived on the island, and where my partner still lives now. Buying meat from them feels like a better choice than buying a Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll!
I do not and will never support intensive farming. But I do want to support the crofts and the small farms dotted around our land.
I wonder how far back in the past we need to go back to find that point of balance, where we lived with our environment in a creative and sustainable way?
The choice that we are all faced with today is to either lose now or lose later.
What am I prepared to do now to make sure that my children, and their children, aren’t deprived of the very things that keep us alive, inspired and thriving today?
I want to say: everything. The reality is that I am doing whatever feels possible. Day after day I am modifying my habits and making deeply conscious choices, and in the process, hopefully, maybe naively, balancing my carbon budget and teaching my children to do so too.
Greta Thunberg says: “All the solutions are already out there. Even if they sometimes mean NOT doing things and simply giving up some of our habits. Like you do in a crisis…”
As the founder of Scapa Fest, mind-body health, outdoor education and environmental action event, I feel compelled to come clean with this. Personally but also professionally.
A very small proportion of our instructors fly to teach at Scapa Fest. From the us, Switzerland and Denmark. We offset their journey by donating money to Surfers Against Sewage. I don’t know how useful offsetting is. Please tell me more if you know more.
We strongly encourage the use of public transport to attend the event. We provide a (free/donation) shuttle from Arrochar Train station to the festival site at Ardkinglas Estate.
We don’t supply disposable drinks and food containers, even the biodegradable ones. People need to bring their own.
We are not perfect, but I know that our efforts are not all in vain because we don’t get it 100% right today.
And I do want to have conversations with people about off-grid power, bartering, repair, reuse, recycle and health and safety in the context of businesses, not just in personal lives. Yvon Chouinard, on the off chance that you are reading this, I would like a conversation with YOU about it all. (Worth a shot, right?)
If you know anyone you think could contribute to the conversation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading this far! It means a lot.