You would need to have been living under a rock to not have heard something about the COP26 summit towards the end of last year. The climate change conference hosted in Glasgow for 2021 received a lot of airtime in early November 2021. Whether the final agreement that was reached at the eleventh hour goes far enough will depend on your point of view but whatever your thoughts are on climate change, I think almost all of us would agree that we can’t continue to blindly let our actions affect the planet without stopping to think a little more about the impact we are having.
I was brought up with the mindset that I should always think before buying something; did I really need it or absolutely love it? If not, should I really be buying it. Not that it stopped me from amassing all manner of trinkets and plastic toys over the years but I did keep hold of them, the idea that throwing them away would be unthinkable. Fast forward thirty years and luckily I’m not a (complete) hoarder but I do still try to follow that approach. It’s not easy though, affordable fast fashion is constantly on offer and busy lifestyles sometimes mean that its easy to favour convenience over sustainability. Still, I do often look at our recycling bin and wonder where all that plastic and paper has come from and how much more hooked on consumption, we as a society have become since I was a child. Also, how we seem to think it is ok to keep consuming more and more ‘stuff’ as long as we can recycle it and any packaging further down the line.
Having kids has made me think more about my carbon footprint and how my personal actions might add to the climate crisis. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely nowhere near perfect in the way that I live my life as regards to recycling, reusing, travel and so on and I would certainly never preach to anyone about how they should live their lives. I’m just trying hard to think about my personal impact every day – if we can all do that, we might just have a chance at preserving the earth for those who will inhabit it further down the line. I’ll sleep a little better at night knowing I’m doing my bit to ensure that there will be a healthy world for future generations to call home.
I attended the Marine Conservation Society’s AGM in December and it was interesting to hear how their various mentors believe we should tackle the climate crisis. The main theme seemed to be that tackling the issues at grass roots level, i.e. in primary schools is a great place to start. If we can influence the way young children growing up approach the world and its seas, we can adopt a mindset that automatically thinks of the planet when deciding how to live their lives. Successful entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den Investor Deborah Meaden, who is an ambassador for MCS made a good point when she talked about how keep cups – she said that they won’t change the world on their own, but by using one you are helping to influence other people’s actions, until it becomes the norm rather than the anomaly to carry one. It makes sense when you think about how the pledge to rid our supermarkets of plastic bags seemed fanciful and yet here we are several years later not far at all from that goal. Ditto plastic straws and cotton buds.
The resounding thing I took from the AGM was the strong and positive message put forward that we should not lose hope for the planet and to always keep that in mind. There are some fabulous people doing some great work but as individuals we can also have an impact by thinking a bit more about the way we live our lives.
The ocean has always been a favourite place of mine, to calm the mind, particularly if I’ve been suffering from insomnia, which is something I’ve struggled with over the last 20 years. To hear and see the waves lapping on the shore is surely one of the most relaxing ways to calm the mind – presumably why so many mediation recordings feature the seashore as background noise! Whilst it can definitely be argued that the agreement achieved at the COP26 summit does not go far enough, for example in relation to small island nations and the vulnerability they face due to global warming and the way in which indigenous people will be adversely affected as a result of the deal, what is surely a promising outcome from the talks, is that global leaders have finally recognised the role that our oceans can contribute to tackling the burgeoning climate emergency and how integral they are to the continuing health of our planet. The world’s oceans create over 50% of oxygen used on earth and absorb 25% of human produced carbon dioxide while also absorbing the majority of greenhouse gases generated from our actions over the last sixty years. This makes them pretty important to the ongoing success of mother earth. The Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Good Fish Guide’ is a great place to start if you’re looking for ways to be more ocean sustainable https://www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/. Regularly updated, they can help you to make informed choices when buying and eating seafood. If you want to take on a more physical role, you can also sign up to take part in a beach clean near you at https://www.mcsuk.org/what-you-can-do/join-a-beach-clean/great-british-beach-clean-events/ We might even see you there!