Personal and Organisational Climate Choices
Have you ever had that moment of overwhelm when you stand looking at the array of products on the supermarket shelf? White bread, brown bread, wholemeal bread, bread with seeds on top, bread with whole seeds inside, sliced, non sliced, crusty, soft, Tiger, Artisan, French, Belgium and then; sourdough, spelt flour, gluten free sliced, gluten free non sliced…you get the picture.
I wonder what it is that helps us decide; price, flavour, texture, familiarity, dietary needs, easiest to reach (especially important if like one of my daughters you are only 5ft tall)? Having to choose takes mental and emotional energy, if I choose to have this – I choose not to have that (unless of course you want to end up with a house full of bread!).
Now let’s add another layer: do I want to shop locally, ethically, organic, carbon light, plastic free? Feeling overwhelmed? Me too…. But it is all ok, I’ll leave the supermarket behind, use the local refill shop, order a locally sourced organic vegetable box, only eat meat from generative farms and go to the local bakers in the village. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s expensive and still complicated. The local refill shop is amazing, yet when I fill my reusable bag with organic almonds I know it is a healthy choice but not a local choice with many miles travelled for the Almonds to arrive in my baga, and how can I ever know and be confident in the complete supply chain story; the impacts on individual farmers and communities and the effect of production on local biodiversity. A quick dive into the web uncovers a plethora of research; sometimes complementary, sometimes contradictory. Almond.com quote Dr Alissa Kendal (a food researcher) saying that Californian almonds have a lower carbon footprint than many other nutrient- and energy-dense foods, however nut cellars.com suggest that Almonds in fact, have a higher carbon footprint, requiring 3.56kg CO2eq to produce 1kg. Walnuts and pistachios actually have the lowest carbon footprint… but wait a minute as an article in 2020 in the Irish times we are told that One of the big issues is water. A single almond takes about three and half litres of water to produce. Most almonds – an estimated 82 per cent – are grown in drought-afflicted California…The number of almond orchards has doubled in the last 20 years in California. The year-round irrigation required for almond trees puts huge pressure on a finite resource. Water is diverted from rivers for farming, which can negatively impact fish, with reports warning of endangered salmon in California at risk from low water levels.
It’s so complex and at the moment we are just talking about almonds!
Just so we can all feel just a little more overwhelmed, let’s multiply this conundrum by 10, or maybe a 100 or even a 1000. All these choices, some conscious, some not, some obvious, some hidden, some straightforward and some complex are part of daily life. What energy supplier to use, what heating system to install, what food and clothes to buy, how to travel; fly, go by train, drive an electric vehicle, cycle, walk…
I wish all decisions were made for us by forward thinking, environmentally aware and ethically motivated producers, growers, retailers, corporations, governments and municipalities. Imagine making any purchase knowing that whatever we buy would fulfil all the planet and parity considerations needed to help create a healthier, fairer, regenerative world. What an amazing daydream…
Now alongside being an idealist (In these moments I can sense and somatically feel the potential of this hopeful future) I am also a pragmatist. I realise that most of the choices are left in our hands, often determined by the health of my bank account, the depth of my knowledge, the fire in my belly, the pressure or indifference of our governments and our peers and the effectiveness of corporate marketing.
I also believe deeply that core to our sense of wellbeing, our sense of agency and personal sovereignty is the willingness to make choices, to decide how we will live on the earth. If we want the overwhelm to subside we can take action, we can re-discover our power and influence through the small and large choices;
- I’ll travel more by train and bus
- I’ll travel less
- I’ll eat less or no meat
- I’ll buy less or no food that is in plastic
- I’ll turn the heating down 1 degree
- I’ll protest and rebel
- We’ll trace our supply chain more thoroughly
- We’ll commit to carbon zero by 2030
- We’ll do nothing that harms the planet
- We’ll become a BCORP
- We’ll embed a circular economy
- We’ll adopt doughnut economics as our foundational model
- We’ll lead the way
- We’ll pressure government policy