In the fourth of a series of articles providing an update on the Cleaner Greener Wanstead initiative, Councillor Paul Donovan (Wanstead Village, Labour) explains why the power of one should not be underestimated
If the climate and biodiversity crises are to be overcome, then it is up to each of us to change our behaviours. There has been much talk of the need to get back to normal after Covid, yet it was the old normal that helped create the pandemic as well as the climate and biodiversity crises.
The new normal has to be one where everyone takes up the responsibility of living more simply and lightly on Earth. Individual action is a key strand of the Cleaner Greener Wanstead Charter.
The basic things that need to change are less driving and flying, greater use of sustainable energy sources, eating less meat and using locally produced items.
Less use of the car with more active travel is vital. Infrastructure to improve this modal shift in transport also has to come, but a greater willingness from all of us to walk, cycle and use public transport can help this happen. The arrival of more electric cars, with supporting infrastructure, will also help, of course.
An element of the old normal that there seems to have been a real rush to restore is flying all over the world. This virtually stopped for much of the pandemic period. Whilst restrictions were slowly lifted on many areas of life, there seemed to be a rush to get back onto those planes. Yet the aviation industry contributes significantly to emissions. Some journeys cannot be avoided, but staycations need to become a part of our lives far more.
The opportunities to have renewable energy systems was examined last month, but it is an area where progress can be made, given the will.
We probably eat too much meat, so reduction would be good, but maybe more important is what is consumed is produced in a humane and environmentally sensitive way. There is also the possibility to grow more of our own food, either in gardens (if you have one) or on allotments or community gardens. All of these things help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
We also need to stop producing waste. Recycling is good and needs to be encouraged, but there has to be less waste produced in the first place.
When all of these actions are taken together, it makes for a significant change in the way life is lived. It means thinking of the community where we live and beyond that, to our sisters and brothers across the world. What is for sure is the climate and biodiversity crises can only be overcome with a genuine coming together of people at all levels of society. This has begun in our own small way in Wanstead, but there is still some way to go.
For more information on the initiative, visit cleanergreenerwanstead.org