Recently in Transition, both in the core group and in inner transition, conversation has turned to the subject of getting people on board with changing their behaviours and being more ‘green’: how do you convince people it’s a good thing to cut their carbon footprint and break their habits when it’s so much easier just continuing as they are?
The subject came up again on the internet just yesterday when I was sent the link to a blog which was talking about differences in motivation in being ‘green’ between different countries: apparently some countries are more driven to change through guilt; some by a sense of duty and the common good (think about stories last year when Japan closed most of its nuclear reactors leading to huge reduction in the amount of electricity available and there were tales of people cutting their hair so they didn’t take so long with hair dryers); and some by the benefits to themselves and their loved ones. The message of the blog is something we’ve often discussed: you need to know what motivates each person to change, otherwise there’s little chance of success.
So within Transition Clevedon how well are we doing? To be honest I don’t have a clue. I have no idea what impact we’re having when we send out our emails, invite people to events, or meet down the pub. Perhaps there’s a whole army of people out there who have made changes to their lives as a result. Or perhaps not.
And what could we do more ourselves? It’s very easy to look at someone else’s shopping and inwardly shriek at the carbon footprint of the contents of their (plastic) bags or be in bemusement at how many lights people have on; or question why they’ve driven into the town not walked, but if the spotlight was turned on us, what would other people see, what could they suggest we changed?
I was thinking about this for myself today – what else could I be doing? I reflected on today. It’s been a fairly Transitional day. Up early to be at the Farmers’ Market for 8.30, picking half a dozen meagre radishes in a vain attempt to encourage people to swap their veg (failed, I gave them to my neighbour)… Supporting local farmers and producers by buying my local supplies of meat, cheese, butter, apple juice etc…. Buying local produce to feed the panelists on next week’s ‘Any Questions’ which is being hosted by the Curzon: rather than getting nibbles from the supermarket I’d suggested we should showcase local produce, so I thought I ought to make the most of the market.
When I got home my lunch was a mix of things from the market and things from the garden, and then I pruned the white and red currants and gooseberries, before spending most of the afternoon in the veg patch. And then this evening I made the most of the oven being on to cook three things at once (sorrel tart – key ingredients home-grown; sausages and onions – market and home-grown; and homemade sausage rolls). And the electricity was from the pv panels. The only area I slipped up was the glass of Chilean Merlot.
I’m honestly not sure, without appearing even more eccentric, what else I could be doing. And then I started thinking about areas of my life where I make excuses. Foreign travel for example. The trip to Cuba I justified to myself that it was a ‘research trip’ into sustainable food production and self-sufficiency: OK I learned a few things, but nothing I couldn’t have found out online. The excuse for the trip to Greece was even more feeble – to support the Greek economy and see if lifestyles have changed (they have – more people growing vegetables and using their cars less). Oh, and the other thing I always make excuses about is changing energy provider- I argue (to myself) that I’m already on a green tariff, that changing provider when I have pv panels is too complicated; and that I’d much prefer a big provider to be paying over the odds for my tariff than someone I’d actually support. But basically I’m procrastinating through apathy and inertia. I’ll phone up tomorrow… but only because I’ve now told so many people about my feeble excuses and, anyway, it’s easier than stopping the foreign holidays…