Change is Happening!

Look at what we have achieved!! Iceland have decided to ditch Palm Oil from all their own brand products by the end of 2018 and Waitrose have announced that they will no longer provide take away plastic cups for their coffee.shopping

This is definitely down to public opinion. As they say ‘The customer is always right’. When enough people say something loud enough and also talk with the pound in their pockets, change happens.

The pound in our pocket combined with online petitions, individual emails to companies voicing our concerns, and Facebook messages from consumers demanding change in production methods to minimise environmental impact….These really do make a difference.

It’s hard to imagine that anything we do can possibly have an effect, good or bad, on the environment. There are such massive threats facing our world that it is a natural reaction to think ‘What a shame…but its all so overwhelming that there is nothing I can do in the face of ocean acidification, plastic pollution, climate change, deforestation, soil destruction etc

plastic pollution
Image courtesy of Economist.com

In fact, we have enormous power as individuals:

  • Our shopping choices dictate the success or failure of shops, product manufacturers, raw material producers, and all the people in between. If we disapprove of how a product is made, we are free to vote with our wallets and credit cards.
  • Companies, even huge multinationals, change their ways in the face of public disapproval.
  • Who remembers the outcry about microbeads in facewashes and toothpastes?
  • Longer ago there was public outcry about the use of CFCs in aerosols and they were replaced.
  •  A similar sea change (pun intended) seems to be underway regarding single use plastics. Waitrose, Co- op, and many others are buckling to public opinion.

 

Every day each one of us chooses with our wallets and affects the behaviour of these companies. When we join forces and sign petitions, write letters and emails, go on marches, or do interviews in the media, we hasten the change for good.

Similarly, when we fatalistically succumb to the thought that there is nothing we can do, we allow business as usual to continue to the detriment of all the living world, ourselves included.

The pound in our pocket combined with online petitions, individual emails to companies voicing our concerns, and Facebook messages from consumers demanding change in production methods to minimise environmental impact….These really do make a difference.

 

It’s to imagine that anything we do can possibly have an effect, good or bad, on the environment in the face of the massive threats facing our world. Ocean acidification, plastic pollution, climate change, deforestation, soil destruction etc

In fact, we have enormous power as individuals:

  • Our shopping choices dictate the success or failure of shops, product manufacturers, raw material producers, and all the people in between. If we disapprove of how a product is made, we are free to vote with our wallets and credit cards.
  • Companies, even huge multinationals, change their ways in the face of public disapproval.
  • Who remembers the outcry about microbeads in facewashes and toothpastes?
  • Longer ago there was public outcry about the use of CFCs in aerosols and they were replaced.
  •  A similar sea change (pun intended) seems to be underway regarding single use plastics. Waitrose, Co op, and many others are buckling to public opinion.

So….What to do?

Pick whatever it is that catches your eye as an issue: single use plastic rapped around  bananas, palm oil in your favourite chocolate bar, it really doesn’t matter where you decide to start. Let the supermarket and/or producer know why you are unhappy with their product. Maybe tell a friend or two about an issue that you care about and how they could also do their bit if they felt the same. Share a post on about this issue.

Happy campaigning!

Ideas on Food

Food is something that we all make decisions about every single day. It is such a familiar part of our daily lives that it is hard to imagine that our choices in the kitchen, supermarket, café, sandwich shop, or restaurant have an impact on the natural world.

 

Livewell principles landscape
Photo courtesy of WWF Livewell

 

 

What does it matter whether we fancy a beef and mustard sandwich, or a home-made hummus wrap? How could our individual lunchtime decision possibly matter to the world? Even if we are aware of the disproportionately large environmental footprint of beef, and that a take away sandwich is packaged in single use plastic, surely one sandwich for one person won’t make any difference to the planet?

We are mostly blissfully unaware of the impact that our food choices have on the planet as we pop into our local sandwich outlet on the high street at lunchtime. The impacts are all far away and hidden by a long and complex supply chain. We don’t see the ocean dead zones caused by intensively farmed cattle waste. Nor the thousands of acres of rainforest felled to feed these intensively farmed animals with soya beans and palm oil by-products.

 

What can one person do about this? Let’s look at animal products to start with.

The easiest difference we can all make is to avoid, or reduce our consumption of, intensively farmed meat, fish, and dairy. Large amounts of food is needed to grow a far smaller amount of intensively farmed meat, fish or dairy. We can easily feed everyone on the planet, but not if they all want to eat animal products every day.

 

  • The mantra should be ‘Less and Better Meat’ to which I would also add fish and dairy products.
  • Meat-free meals. Start with one or two a week, and buy a great veggie cook book such as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Much More Veg.
  • Avoid intensively farmed animal products where possible. This includes meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Free range may be more expensive, but the extra cost is offset by eating some meat-free meals.
  • Consider trying alternative ‘milks’ to reduce your dairy intake. There are now so many to choose from. After extensive testing and many curdled failures, I reckon that Oatley Barista milk is the perfect dairy milk substitute for coffee drinkers.

 

 

The Facts for People who would like more Information

  • One third of the land on earth is already used to grow animal feed.
  • A further 26% is used for grazing.
  • 80% of deforestation is due to animal feed production. This includes the loss of the Amazon rainforest
  • For every 100 calories that we feed to animals in the form of corn, soya and oil palm we receive on average 17-30 calories worth of meat. The conversion rate for beef is in the order of 100-3!
  • 5 kilos of wild fish are needed to grow 1 kilo of farmed fish
  • The World Wildlife Fund has published a report ‘Appetite for Destruction’ looks at the hidden impacts of animal feed on the planet and links our reliance on animal protein to worldwide extinctions and biodiversity loss.
  • The average European consumes around 61kg of soy per year , indirectly  through animal products including fish and milk. In 2010 the British livestock industry needed an area the size of Yorkshire to produce the soy used for feed.
  • If the global demand for animal products continues to rise as it is estimates (WWF) then soy production would need to increase by 80%.  This would wreak more destruction on the Amazon, Congo Basin, Yangtze, Mekong and Himalayas among other vulnerable areas. As well as the local people losing their water security and way of life, many species such as jaguars, gorillas, elephants, and tigers risk being driven to extinction by our appetite for meat.
  • In 2014 there were 23 billion chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys and guinea fowl on the planet ready for us to eat. That’s more than 3 for every person.
  • The feed needed to farm fish, shrimp and prawns required an area the size of Britain in 2010 and demand continues to rise.
  • 20% of total direct global carbon emissions are from food and agriculture. This does not include methane production from animals or CO2 emissions as a result of deforestation.

Image courtesy of WWF

References

Philip Limberly ‘Dead Zones’

WWF Appetite for Destruction

WWF Eating for 2 Degrees including the Livewell Plate

 

The Power of the Individual

The pound in our pocket combined with online petitions, individual emails to companies voicing our concerns, and Facebook messages from consumers demanding change in production methods to minimise environmental impact….These really do make a difference.30571664_10160015527235411_5732840536163745792_o

It’s to imagine that anything we do can possibly have an effect, good or bad, on the environment in the face of the massive threats facing our world. Ocean acidification, plastic pollution, climate change, deforestation, soil destruction etc

In fact, we have enormous power as individuals:

  • Our shopping choices dictate the success or failure of shops, product manufacturers, raw material producers, and all the people in between. If we disapprove of how a product is made, we are free to vote with our wallets and credit cards.
  • Companies, even huge multinationals, change their ways in the face of public disapproval.
  • Who remembers the outcry about microbeads in facewashes and toothpastes?
  • Longer ago there was public outcry about the use of CFCs in aerosols and they were replaced.
  •  A similar sea change (pun intended) seems to be underway regarding single use plastics. Waitrose, Co op, and many others are buckling to public opinion.

Every day each one of us chooses with our wallets and affects the behaviour of these companies. When we join forces and sign petitions, write letters and emails, go on marches, or do interviews in the media, we hasten the change for good.

Similarly, when we fatalistically succumb to the thought that there is nothing we can do, we allow business as usual to continue to the detriment of the living world, ourselves included.

Welcome to Greenbean

pexels-photo-235615.jpegThis is a site dedicated to making little manageable changes in our day to day lives for the good of the planet.

Little eco steps.

Not trying to ‘be green’ in a large and daunting way, but choosing little things that resonate with you, and fit easily into your life.

Nothing huge and overwhelming.

I’d like to start with a  couple of quotes from people far wiser that me…

Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change” – Barbara Mikulski

Which leads on to…

Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

This site is for anyone and everyone who has ever sighed at the sight of rubbish on the beach, news items about the demise of honey bees and orang-utans, or documentaries about climate change. It all seems so huge and insurmountable. It feels as if it is all too late, and that there is nothing that we can do in our everyday lives to change any of it. Might as well carry on as usual, because there is nothing we can do. ‘They’ should sort it out. Who are ‘They’? Governments? Multinational corporations?

It feels easier to carry on as usual, burying that uneasy feeling about the amount of plastic that fills the kitchen bin once the shopping has been unpacked at home.

Our lives are mostly far removed from the rest of nature. We live in urban settings surrounded by man-made environments.  Our lives seem disconnected from the rest of life on Earth. It is not at all apparent that we are actually co-dependent on the rest of the fragile web of life in a thin band of water, land and air living on planet spinning around a sun. Our rubbish is collected and taken away from our homes and streets (where is ‘away’?), clean water flows out of the taps, and fossil fuels heat our homes and run our transport systems. Nature is elsewhere. It is sad about the bees, but it is not at all evident that much of our food depends on pollinating insects.

I will be covering an eclectic mix of topics and would welcome comments and requests. Topics that spring to mind include single use plastic in all its guises, food choices and their hidden impacts, our gardens and outdoor spaces, common myths that discourage us from trying to make a difference, and the massive power of the individual.

I will be offering little suggestions for change as well as bigger ideas. It depends how you feel about a given topic, and how much you feel motivated to do something about it. Different things may resonate with different people. For example, you may really want the illegal wildlife trade to be stopped, but feel indifferent about another issue. We are all individuals with our own value sets and interests.

“Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room” – Christine Todd Whitman

Let’s unleash the power of the individual.