As the UK and more of the Western World begins the long road out of lockdown, Real Ideas is looking hard at what lessons and even benefits it has brought to our lives and to our environment.
Alongside the Black Lives Matter protest and campaigns, and responding to the Covid 19 crisis, we’ve all had our own experience of changed lives and a changed world. What many people are seeing is that there is no “going back to normal” and nor would we want there to be: lower carbon dioxide emissions, a boost to the natural world, more audible birdsong, and reduced city air pollution are just some of the wider environmental benefits.
For Real Ideas, we’re having a long, hard look at our pre-coronavirus ways of working, including driving to meetings, paperwork, printing, and how we’ve used office space. For all the weirdness, there have been some real reductions in our environmental impact, and we want these to continue.
Our way of choosing how, what to focus on, and what else we might do to improve things is to create an action plan, using a model called One Planet Living, which has ten principles;
The first three themes are non-environmental, because this is about quality of life – a model for sustainable development: meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
Why is this so important? Because it’s as if we are currently living off the world’s capital, not the interest. If everyone in the world lived like we do in the UK, we’d need three and a half planets, which is just not sustainable. In order to live in a fairer and safer way, we need to reduce our environmental impact, or our “ecological footprint” as it’s sometime described. You can work out yours here: footprintcalculator.org.
The impacts of overconsumption are well-known: climate change, deforestation and extinctions, ocean pollution, poor air quality and more. Why would we not want to do what we could to reduce these?
So what would your action plan look like? For you, your home, even your neighbourhood, workplace or business?
For us in Real Ideas, ours is still emerging, but we’re committed to having something workable in place this summer. For us, this is about leading by example, getting our own house in order (though we do already have a range of positive initiatives internally) and being systematic about what we do, measuring impact.
We hope you’ll join us.
Thurstan Crockett is a self-employed sustainability consultant and coach, who also works part-time for Real Ideas supporting young people on the Game Changer programme. Before moving to Cornwall five years ago, he was Head of Sustainability & Environmental Policy at Brighton Council, where he led work on a One Planet Living Plan for the city and council. Brighton was designated the first “One Planet City” as a result of its commitments. At the end of the video “Will One Planet Living work for you?”, you’ll see Brighton’s then Leader and Chief Executive speak about what One Planet Living meant to them back in 2012. It was the first Green Party-led council in the country!