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‘Community environmentalism’ can push climate change up policy agenda, says thinktank

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Environmental campaigners and local and central government must do more to encourage activism at home, according to a new report that calls for “a revolution in the culture of environmentalism”.

In Pride of Place, research from the thinktank the Fabian Society reveals that most people actually think of the environment in terms of their local surroundings and the people they live with, not in terms of melting ice caps and carbon emissions.

The study finds that many people identify anti-social behaviour as the top ‘environmental issue’ that troubles them and their family. Some 53% list it as one of their main concerns, ahead of the 29% who list extreme weather and the 26% who list climate change – the same proportion as those who listed littering and dog fouling.

The report accuses the environmental movement of becoming “detached” from ordinary people’s lives, allowing massive issues like global warming to slide down the political agenda.

At the same time, 71% say community action is a good way of tackling local problems, while only 3% say it is not.

Building on this, the study’s authors propose that if campaign groups switch some of their efforts from international lobbying to supporting communities in improving local environments, a new, passionate environmentalism could be fostered. 

After this kind of engagement, individuals would be more likely to see the connection between global issues and their own personal environment, and be prepared to do more to tackle climate change, the report suggests.

“The more you care about your immediate area, the more you see that journey to what has to change at Whitehall and Brussels and at the international climate negotiations”, said study author Natan Doron, leader of the Fabians’ environment and citizenship programme. 

The government also has an important role to play, the report argues, at a time when councils are finding their powers and responsibilities disappearing.   

“We’d like to see more funding going to the local level, so rather than just looking at environmental management and improvement as something done from Whitehall, let’s give some of that funding to local authorities”, Doron told Blue & Green Tomorrow.

“We’d also like to see local authorities using innovative ideas like participatory budgeting to engage people in those conversations about how money is spent but also to harness that attachment to place. 

“This would facilitate local conversations, and done properly you would get a virtuous circle between people more engaged with local politics and with environmental management.”

However, while many were keen to see their community mobilised, 33% of those surveyed said they would be unlikely to join such efforts, with many saying they didn’t have the time. 

Some 54% also said that a lack of spare time was leading to a loss of community spirit. 

As one way forward, the report proposes the government could introduce a “Community Environment bank holiday“. This, it says, would provide a focal point for campaigners and generate a huge amount of media attention.

“There are a lot of good local environment groups doing fantastic things in their local areas. If they were given a day where people are encouraged to get involve in local environment activities, you would see those groups bidding for people’s time”, Doron said.

“It would quite quickly become a tradition and I think that would go some way to fostering the kind of popular environmentalism that, at the moment, is lacking.” 

The report will be officially launched in an event in Westminster on Monday evening, where its authors will take part in a panel discussion with Jon Cruddas, Labour’s policy coordinator, and Ruth Davis, political director at Greenpeace UK.

Photo: Beverley Goodwin via Flickr

Further reading:

Sustainable thinking: how do we make our democracy sustainable?

Labour urged to take ‘equal and sustainable society’ vision to next election

Political parties on the spot: how do we make our democracy sustainable?

Figures suggest UK environmental group membership at 4.5m

The Guide to Sustainable Democracy 2014

 

Environment

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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