What happened in GAP-mission related news in December

Climate change, biodiversity and globalisation

Planetary Boundaries - framework for business

Johan Rockström, the lead author of the ground-breaking work on Planetary Boundaries (that looks at the ecological limits of human development) gave a talk this month on how businesses and organisations should apply the framework to their activities. Watch his excellent talk here (1). 

Strong words from Concerned Scientists

In 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a strongly-worded letter of warning to world leaders regarding threats to humanity from environmental degradation. 25 years later, the Union has released a second article, signed by over 15,000 scientists from around the world, which is even more strongly-worded. Click here for the full letter (2).

Monsanto's licence renewal

To the amazement of environmental organisations everywhere, the EU Commission has renewed Monsanto’s license (3) to produce and sell Glyphosphate, a controversial weed-killer that has been linked to mass insecticide and harm to animals dependent on weeds to survive, after the UK and 17 other countries voted for it.

The UK's first carbon neutral village

In 2006, the villagers of Ashton Hayes, Cheshire decided that they wanted to be the first carbon neutral village in the UK. A decade on, they’ve cut their emissions by almost half and have been visited by sustainability practitioners from 200 countries understand just how they did it. Read the Positive News story here (4).

Consumption, trends and buying behaviour

The carbon cost of fashion

Fashion is responsible for more carbon emissions than international flights and shipping combined. Less than 1% of textiles are recycled. Clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years. These and more alarming insights can be found in the report published this week by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation (5).


Why is this important for GAP's mission? How we currently buy and dispose of clothes is clearly not working for us or for the planet. There are simple ways to tackle this on a personal level: when choosing new clothes, buying good quality, durable and sustainably sourced textiles is essential. Using what we already own until we can use it no longer, and then recycle what’s left (in charity shops or textile banks). And by buying less in the first place. If the lure of the e-basket is great, have you thought about doing any of these 56 things instead of shopping (6)?

Link between income equality and environmentally-friendly practice

A new study suggests a link between income equality and environmentally-friendly practice. High rates of economic disparity make people try to out-perform their peers, which extends to working longer and buying bigger and more expensive stuff – increasing their carbon footprint enormously. Read more here.(7)

Plastics

Plastic-free Penzance

A Penzance beach is the first in the UK to have been awarded ‘Plastic-Free’ status (8) by the charity Surfers Against Sewage. The people of Penzance have been organising beach clean-ups and local businesses have curbed sales of single use plastics, making for a very clean beach.

London is set for water fountains 

Sadiq Khan is planning to install a network of water fountains (9) across the capital to combat single use plastics, too.

Wellbeing  

Shaking up the consumption model

What changes do we need to make to be happy and sustainable? This article (10) by UK philosopher Kate Soper argues that the current consumption model offers little in the way of enjoyment and fulfilment rather than too much. So, she explores ways to shake it up to create a new model based on joy, hedonism and contentment. From the three-tiered consumption hierarchy that we’re familiar with at GAP (go without, source differently and choose green), to taxing businesses, to regulating the advertising industry, to using alternative measures of wellbeing (not GDP), to challenging time-saving and the glorification of speed, she touches on lots of radical and less radical solutions. Why is this important for our mission? It’s a useful introduction to bottom-up and top-down actions to tackle consumerism.

Redefining the meaning of Christmas

This article (11)  explores how the “vast majority of people aren’t able to celebrate Christmas in the way that we’ve been told we should, and that creates a painful sense of loss, inadequacy and failure”. Debt, a narrative of perfect family togetherness (which is not available to all), and pressure to be happy and enjoying oneself are all reasons the author gives to fuel her case about Christmas standards needing a good re-framing.

Sources

(1) https://www.cusp.ac.uk/event/planetary-boundaries/

(2) http://scientists.forestry.oregonstate.edu/sites/sw/files/Warning_article_with_supp_11-13-17.pdf

(3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-42135437

(4) https://www.positive.news/2016/environment/22859/english-village-becomes-worldwide-model-carbon-reduction/

(5) https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report.pdf

(6) http://andthenwesaved.com/things-to-do-instead-of-spending-money/

(7) https://www.mintpressnews.com/study-link-between-income-inequality-consumerism-size-carbon-footprint/235024/

(8) https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/05/penzance-wins-first-plastic-free-status-award-to-help-clean-up-beaches

(9) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/04/sadiq-khan-plans-network-of-london-water-fountains-to-reduce-plastic-waste

(10) https://thenextsystem.org/learn/stories/new-hedonism-post-consumerism-vision?mc_cid=0ff1cd34f4&mc_eid=c8e1f8c714

(11) http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/christmas-december-poverty-consumerism-credit-cards-depression-loneliness-a8088291.html