Spreading the word!

I’ve never been on the radio before, not even on a phone in.  So on my way to BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey yesterday I was feeling pretty nervous. I was going in to talk about My Year of Eco Challenges, which recently came to an end (read more here) and I had a 20 minute morning slot with Danny Pike.
I asked around on Twitter and in real life for tips on how to survive a radio interview and had various suggestions – imagine it going well, gargle with salt water before hand, don’t look up the listening figures…
These suggestions really helped as well as lots of lovely supportive comments from friends and family.  Another thing that helped me put it into perspective was the knowledge that I wasn’t the important thing about this radio interview. The reasons I did the challenges and getting that message across was the important thing. Before I went in I went over and over the facts and the figures about why I did my challenges.  
Things like
  • Families throw away an average of £60 worth of food a month and food thrown into landfill gives off methane – a greenhouse gas.  Couple that with the fact that food bank usage has trebled in recent years and it makes absolutely no sense to throw food away.
  • Fast fashion has seen shorter and shorter turnarounds from clothing being designed to being on the shop floor. The pressure to meet short deadlines has compromised workers safety with reports of workers being locked in factories until they finish their work.  In April 2013 the Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh collapsed and many workers died in this disaster.  
  • According to this Guardian article here the ‘Sumatran Rainforests will mostly disappear within 20 years’ and part of the reason for this is toilet paper.  I also did a bit of reading up on whether some brands of toilet paper where more sustainable than others and whether FSC certified ones were ok.  There is a very interesting article here which questions the reliability of the FSC certification and points out there are various different versions of it.  Things can be 100% FSC certified or they might say FSC mix, which means that not all of the product is FSC only some of it. There is another category as well – FSC recycled.  
On air, I pretty much forgot to impart any of these facts, except the one about the rainforests disappearing – retrospectively I was kicking myself quite a bit for this :). 
It was really interesting the kinds of questions I was being asked by Danny and then afterwards what people calling in had to say. One of the questions Danny asked of me and later of a caller was something along the lines of that doesn’t someone building a new coal fired power station on the other side of the world make all the effort I have gone to fairly pointless? I said that I feel really strongly that I am responsible for my actions regardless of what else is going on in the world.  If I had my chance again I would have expanded on this.  
  • Basically I think that creating, buying, chucking and even recycling items which are not renewable, sustainable,  biodegradable and /or the disposal of can be toxic to humans, animals and the environment is fundamentally wrong.
  • If we were talking about any other issue where most would agree the behaviour is fundamentally wrong for example bullying or rape or murder, they and/ or the system they are a part of would try to put a stop to these negative behaviours.  So why aren’t we doing this when it comes to the environment and why do people think it is ok to use the argument – well everyone else is doing it so why shouldn’t I? The reason is that our culture and systems are actually all geared up to encourage these destructive activities – things need to change drastically!!!
  • Individuals do make a difference and we can choose to make things better or we can choose to make things worse. If I want to I could choose to leave a significant legacy of rubbish and pollution behind me. For example lets say I consumed 1 plastic bottle of milk every week over the course of my lifetime and I lived for 80 years and all those bottles went into landfill. I would leave behind me 4160 milk bottles and they would still be there hundreds of years later. According to this website here it takes plastic bottles 450 years to biodegrade! Just one more plastic bottle a week and my legacy would be 8320 plastic bottles hanging around for 450 years.. One less plastic bottle a week and I would leave 0 plastic bottles behind for 0 years.
  • By changing my habits, the benefits haven’t just been to the environment. I have gained massively – all the savings I made meant I didn’t have to keep working. Many of the changes I have made have improved my health and happiness. As far as I’m concerned it is a win win situation!
  • There is a chance that we are not all doomed.  I want to take that chance and grasp it with both hands, I want a future for my children, in fact one of my greatest wishes in life is to one day meet my great grand children and I want my great grandchildren get to meet their great grandchildren..  I think the best way to inspire other people to help me achieve that future is by making the changes that we all need to make myself.  If someone can argue to themselves that there is no point making an effort because no-one else is, then they can equally argue to themselves that they had better make an effort because they can see other people around them doing it!
Other points Danny kept coming back to were – didn’t that take too much time and effort ?  Well if given the choice between doing the easy but fundamentally wrong thing and the slightly more effort right thing what would you do? Plus not everything I did took more time and effort, in fact some things were easier e.g. I found clothes swapping a much easier way to gain new clothes than trawling the shops for hours and trying on lots of clothes.
Danny was intrigued by the amount of money I had saved and earned from being eco-friendly and thrifty and felt it was a reasonable salary – he asked me if I felt the money I saved was a good enough argument for other people doing the same.  My answer to this is that everyone’s financial circumstances are different and individuals would save different amounts of money on things depending on what they usually spend on them in the first place. I can only say what I have saved, which I have detailed here.
One thing I took away from the interview apart from wishing I had said various different things slightly differently, was that they take pictures of you if you go into a radio studio – I wasn’t expecting that and wasn’t prepared (hence the terrible photo!!!)
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2 thoughts on “Spreading the word!

  • Looks like I've missed the radio clip which is a shame but you make some excellent points in the article. Next time you are on air and want a good sound bite answer to the "what's the point if everyone else isn't doing it" questions then you could do worse than the classic "if you aren't part of the solution then you are part of the problem".

    It annoys me that people can listen to someone like yourself and come back with that "argument". The least they could do is be honest and admit they are too lazy to bother. Also even if most people just started to think more about this stuff and cut down a little/gradually on wasting resources then it's better than nothing, and I think those sort of people miss that point entirely as well. You can't go from a totally wasteful society of 7 billion people to completely green and sustainable in one step, hence why we have targets for 2020 and 2050, not tomorrow or next week. Those people lack vision and the foresight to see most of us will be living this way (with sustainability in mind) in 5-10 years so why not be like yourself and get ahead of the curve. Cheers and well done on getting to "local celeb" status 🙂

  • Thanks for the tip for next time (if there is one 🙂 ). I agree for some people there may be an element of laziness about being green, but I think that cultural and social issues are also a significant barrier to people living more sustainable lifestyles. I hope you are right and that in 5 to 10 years most people will be living with sustainability in mind!

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