It ain’t easy being green – but let’s make it so!
Yesterday I dug out my passport, found a utility bill to prove my address and checked my it was indeed an odd-numbered day of the month. Was I travelling abroad? Was I applying for joint citizenship of another country? Opening a bank account?
No, I was taking a car-load of stuff to the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) to be recycled. That’s quite a lot of red tape between me and ‘doing the right thing’. If you’re wondering, the odd/even date thing is about whether your car reg is odd or even (my fault, long story), and, yes, you do need a car to access the HWRC – no cycle or pedestrian access, which is hardly an incentive to go car-free (although that is currently being “looked at”).
It is a fundamental principle of change management that the desired option must be easier to follow than business as usual. We have had decades of social/economic evolution in the linear, high carbon model that is causing our environmental crisis, so we have to actively intervene to make the circular/low carbon economy easier to adopt by providing high quality facilities (eg to encourage cycling we need safe, fast cycle lanes and secure storage at key locations), removing red tape (no obligatory cycle helmets) or adding friction to the old way of doing things (charging for car parking).
The green movement doesn’t help itself by sneering at many of the solutions to our crisis eg feed-in tariffs for renewables (denounced as inequitable by a certain Mr Monbiot, but extremely successful in decarbonising the UK electricity grid), recycling (I’ve seen it called “just a sop to the conscience” recently) and even ‘net zero’ (yes, you could buy loads of carbon credits to get to net zero, but everybody I know is concentrating on massive carbon reductions first). We need to be finding ways to make Sustainability work, not raising barriers until it is unachievable.
Conversely, it’s great when concepts, products and language evolves to make a path towards Sustainability for all. At the minute I’m taken with the idea of a ‘climatarian’ diet – rather than being absolute in what you do or don’t eat, you work towards a low carbon diet. Our family started with ‘meat-free Monday’ and has now progressed to a point where red meat is a treat. Similarly, I’m trying to buy an e-cargobike as it will be another massive step towards going car-free (in ownership terms) as we can use it to drop children off at events and do the weekly shop – this will be much cheaper than an electric car and gets round my no-offstreet-parking-how-do-I-charge-it problem (unfortunately there’s a huge problem in the cycle supply chain holding up my purchase).
Our Prime Minister recently claimed that Kermit was wrong when he sang “it ain’t easy being green”. Unfortunately this isn’t true as yet – we’ve got to actively ‘shape the path’ to make Sustainability the easiest way forward.
Photo: © Disney