I heard a discussion on Radio 2, yesterday and it got me thinking about different ways to address Climate Change. Not just ‘don’t buy bottled water‘, not just ‘don’t use stuff that has unnecessary packaging’, but real solutions that people could actually consistently do because they want to! (I also saw the role of Climate Change Manager advertised by CABI, just in case you fancy applying 😍, which sparked more thoughts).
I’m planning a worksop session on new greener ideas while working out why people would want to follow these ideas… currently planning the agenda, attendees and dates. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share a few things I came up with yesterday:
1. Thinking about packaging…
It’s not just fruit and vegetables, though very proud of the changes Morrison and Sainsbury’s have made to remove packaging. Could the logical next step be a policy to require manufacturers to think through the full lifecycle of every new product. Much like a production workflow, they would need to do a simple version the ultimate destination of the packaging:
- Product packaging alternatives
- Recycling options
- Practical steps to recycling for different types of household as appropriate
- Working with similar or linked manufacturers to create recycling solutions
- Implementing the appropriate, recycling ‘supply’ chain
For example: A paper bag could be compacted with others to produce a new type of fuel that would be sold to other households and potentially reduce consumption of other fuels.
Of course it’s a different way but could introduce at least a mechanism for thinking more creatively about the consequences of producing goods.
2. New and Possibly Better Recycling Methods
Most households seem to recycle now, but is putting a mixture of packaging in green bins really the best way? I’ve heard alot just gets deposited in landfill and never becomes anything else! The 1970s model for Corona bottles spring to mind where you used to get a 10p refund if you took back the bottles to the shop.
How about applying this model to refilling toiletries i.e. bubble bath, shampoo? Then the plastic bottle is recycled without going near the bins. I was also wondering about make up, why can’t a face powder be put in an old case, mascara bottles recycled, old lipsticks removed from the top and a new inside inserted (most people buy the same colours and brands)…
Then there is packaging for other foods. Is there a better way transport meat and cheese? Something like a stainless steel box with compartments for each product, we automatically carry bags for life… maybe there could be a small charge if you forget the container and a refund when you return with it.
How about smoothies or fresh juice drinks? Why aren’t all of them in cardboard cartons? Cardboard cartons that could join paper bags and become fuel. Hmm, food for thought, will think on!
3. White Goods
Washing machines, ovens, fridges are all disposable these days meaning the rubbish tips are full of old ones. There expected life seems to be 3+ years. Incredibly wasteful!
I was wondering about introducing a ‘Rent to Recycle’ purchase model. It would be a bit like PCP leasing on cars, but with the expectation that you routinely buy a refurbished not a brand new model. The refurbishment could use the original case, resprayed and polished up, then insert new innards that include up to date technology. The supply chain would chain massively and then a family would effectively have for example a ‘Washing Machine for Life!‘.
The lease model would be over three years say, with the option to pay for an upgrade or switch models depending on what each household wants and can afford. A maintenance package would be inclusive to extend the lifespan… manufacturers would then offer an extended service rather then replicating and wasting machines. To introduce the model, it may require a policy somewhere but could work, I hope so anyhow!
4. Cycling not Driving!
On the whole, I prefer the carrot over the stick for policies around this. Cycling takes effort, driving not so much! So why would people want to cycle to work or school? Speaking as someone that worked two miles away from home for a year and only cycled once 😟, I know the deterrents… weather, tiredness, late etc.
The stick methods to make cycling (or public transport) a necessity could include limiting the number of driving licences issued or limiting the number of cars (they do this in Singapore, I believe). Neither are very attractive or supportive of real life challenges and consumer choice.
Incentivising instead could include:
- Estimating annual mileage when the tax is purchased which impacts on the cost, then offering a rebate for a percentage reduction.
- Offering loyalty points for lower mileage at selected retailers, car manufacturers, family outings.
- Extending the ‘rent cars by the hour’ that is in many cities and enabling this system in bigger villages or small towns. The network could be national and connected to the driver’s licence, again enabling reductions in estimated mileage to be rewarded.
- Could the bike system implemented by Barclays and Santander in London be extended nationally?
- Could we order maintenance services like the AA or RAC to a specific location? Personally I have never achieved the lofty aim of repairing a puncture, useless 🤪.
- Can someone invent better clothing, mud guards, weather protection, storage carriers to make it easier to cycle when wearing office clothes? I suspect this impacts on many, particularly women!
If anyone would like to attend the workshop, which I hope will be fun, please let me know. It’ll involve brain games, information and hopefully some talks.
I look forward to supporting Greta Thunberg and her ‘the house is burning down’ campaign. Let’s not let it burn… and lose places like this photo.
Love Ruth x