Taking our (sustainable) future into our own hands

I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up. I’m fed up of seeing people, societies, companies, and governments place wealth and convenient living ahead of a sustainable future. And I’m fed up of inaction: government inaction, corporate inaction, and individual inaction. Since Lauren and I moved to the US a couple of months ago, a fire has begun to burn more strongly inside me. For some reason, I feel like my eyes are wider open than they have been for a long time. I’m realizing just how lazy, distracted, and immoral so many of us are. We live our daily lives according to accepted norms, a quest for greater wealth, and most of us almost always take the most convenient option without thinking about the consequences.

Harsh? Probably. True? Sadly. The reason for the lack of change? In some cases, a lack of education. In many cases, the notion that wealth equates to ultimate happiness. In all cases, a lack of urgency from everyone involved.

Why the growing frustration?

You might be wondering where this increased fire in my belly has come from. I think there are multiple factors. First, it’s hard to ignore the fact that global climate action is increasing and that this is making all (or some?) of us think more about the status quo. Extinction Rebellion and David Attenborough’s “Our Planet” on Netflix and his “Climate Change: the facts” on BBC all spring to mind. I, personally, am inspired, motivated, and driven to do more as a result of these.

Second, our travels at the back-end of last year and our recent move to the US have meant that I’ve not been working for the past six or so months. I’ll freely admit that I was happily progressing up a career ladder, enjoying my life, and not having (or making) the time to think in detail about factors outside my immediate circle. Now I’ve had a bit of time off, I’ve had time to really reflect on what matters most to me and the sort of direction I want to take my career—and life—in.

Last, I feel like I’m seeing more evidence of downright climate laziness in the US. Yes, dear POTUS is a mighty fine example, but on a more local level I’m seeing things that make me think: Seriously? Is that the best we can do in the here and now?

What sort of things are we seeing?

Recent personal examples include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Buying a coffee, asking the barista to use my keep-cup, only for the barista to make the coffee in a single-use plastic cup, tip it into my cup, then chuck the plastic cup into the bin. I don’t even think he understood the dumbfounded/evil stare I gave him after.
  • Our landlord refusing to offer recycling to our building because he “got a better deal from a different company” that just dumps it all in a landfill. Oh, and he could get free recycling services from the town we live in, but no, it’s too much effort to separate waste from recycling. ¿Qué?
  • We recently bought a new car. We knew we wanted to get a hybrid, and, after some research, we settled on the Honda Insight. So, we go into the car garage and ask to hear more about it, take it on a test drive, and so on. I kid you not when I say the salesperson didn’t even know they sold a hybrid. Lauren cracked up at my very visible eye-rolling at this point.
  • 39% of commutes into downtown Boston are taken in single-occupancy vehicles. The same figure in central London is 2%. Yet Boston’s mayor recently announced that introducing congestion pricing was out of the question as it would impact working-class families. They must be all the people I see driving around the city in fancy SUVs every day…

So, what can we do to start creating a more sustainable future?

I think it’s about time we stopped talking about whether or not climate change is real. It is, so shut up, Donald. And Brexit? Is that really what the UK should be wasting so much time and effort on? Imagine the real change that could’ve been effected if just a third of the effort that’s gone into Brexit negotiations was spent coming up with socially equitable climate policies. Alas, let’s be brutally honest: We’re totally screwed if we wait for governments to change our course.

The solution? Bottom-up change. Let’s start taking action and giving politicians and corporations a glimpse of the future we want.

Some lifestyle changes we’re making…

On top of what Lauren and I already do, we’ve decided to trial some lifestyle changes for the next few months to see what it takes to start creating a more sustainable future. A few of these are:

  • Getting a hybrid car (done) and only using it for journeys where public transport or walking/biking isn’t an option
  • Moving away from the convenience of supermarkets to buying local products as much as possible. Not only will we be eating tastier and healthier produce, not to mention sustainably boosting the local economy, but we’ll also be saying no to the negative externalities associated with buying from big supermarkets (plastic-use, unsustainable farming, crazy transport emissions, etc.).
  • Stopping eating meat at home and only eating it out when we know it’s been sustainably sourced. Crazy? Probably. But this sort of action can have a huge impact on our individual emissions. Mass farming of livestock to send all over the country is immoral, unnecessary, and generates crazy amounts of emissions.
  • Buying our electricity from a 100% green energy source. It might cost a small amount more, but it sends a message to governments and greedy fossil fuel companies that a sustainable future is more important.

Anyway, we’ll write the odd post about how these changes are going for us over the next few months, so keep checking in.

For now, it’d be great to hear about things you currently do, or want to do, to bring about bottom-up change. Let us know in a comment below!

Got some thoughts? Leave a comment!

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