Peach & Bumble believes that systemic change is key to effectively limiting global warming, species extinction and the effects of environmental collapse, but each of us plays a part in the system, and can make a difference by the actions we take. Here are three simple things you can do to help.
There are loads and loads of lists on the internet of ways to reduce your environmental impact. At Peach & Bumble we firmly believe that systemic change is the absolute most important thing required to make an effective difference to save us from the environmental mess we find ourselves in. Systemic change means big changes in the way we do things in the economy – letting go of the growth imperative; understanding that the economy exists within an environmental system and not separate from it. It indicates changes required to the way we think about government spending in the economy – mass scale investment in changing infrastructure to enable low energy use while maintaining wellbeing. This would mean investment in green energy, in insulating homes, in electric vehicles and transforming our modes of mobility to bikes and foot with appropriate allowances to enable this. It involves removing any support of, or subsidisation of fossil fuel exploration and extraction and animal agriculture, and huge investment and subsidisation of alternatives. It includes honesty from the government and economists about the way we fund this and real education about how a fiat money system works to eliminate the economic illiteracy of the concept of running a country as though it is a household with limited ability to fund.
Because the system is rigged to prevent changes that would disadvantage those who reap the financial rewards of the status quo, activism is a crucial component in affecting change. We need to get the government to take the environmental crisis seriously and act as though they understand the urgency. But to take us seriously, they need to know our votes depend on it, and that we will protest their inaction. Write to your MP and tell them what you know about the environmental crisis and your concerns about a lack of substantive action. Engage with local MPs, councilors and business leaders to ask them how their plans support the environment. Challenge fossil fuel infrastructure plans such as roads and parking initiatives by business and councils and ask for development of alternatives that promote communal wellbeing, such as parks, walk to school and work initiatives, community spaces, speed limits, clean air initiatives. Ask local government, businesses and and organisations to eliminate animal products from their menus and offerings, especially at climate events or any venue claiming eco credentials! Join an activism group in your area. Engage in politics – debate in your social groups and vote in local and national elections; demand change in your cities to adapt to a greener way of life and campaign for stronger democracy adding in proportional representation and citizens assemblies. Attend environmental protests in your city, or start your own! Make a social media account to spread information about the crisis and educate your community. Engage with local schools, workplaces, sports clubs to promote climate awareness and education. Use your talent in art, public speaking, communication, or whatever your unique capabilities are, to help raise awareness and push for action and raise environmental issues in your communities, industries and places of work.
No one is coming to save us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for
Buy Less Stuff
Any meaningful climate action has to include massive reduction in consumption. We can’t continue to consume with the frivolity and excess that we’ve all been brought up on. The L’oreal slogan “because you’re worth it” rings in my mind when I think of the ways we’ve been taught through advertising to buy more and more stuff, with the malignant optimism that somehow, if we just attain the flashier car, the bigger house, the designer clothes, and the picture perfect home, we will build up our status and identity, fill up the void of inadequacy and emptiness inside us, and fulfil our socially constructed “needs”. We have been sold the idea that somehow, if we keep buying what they’re selling, we’ll prove our worthiness and achieve all our dreams. And if we aren’t achieving our dreams, we’re fitting in, and purchasing convenience – think fast food and throwaway goods like wet wipes. It’s bred into us an aura of self entitlement as well; that if we want it, we deserve it, no matter what the consequences of our desires for others, for animals, or for the planet. It’s also depleted our imagination; we are so saturated with the the idea of consumption and excess delivering to us a good life and optimum wellbeing that we are almost unable to envision an alternative idea of success and happiness.
The sad thing about the climate crisis is that it’s teaching us the hard way that that the things that have been marketed to us a luxury and our route to happiness are nothing but decorative, vapid distractions. Just a means to an end for a concentrated few who profit in wealth and power from the proliferation of the concept of the worship of materialism over life meaning, the self over society, and the kindling of insecurity and greed inside each one of us.
From a recent study which examines the relationship between energy use and human need, there is good evidence that “factors such as public service quality, income equality, democracy, and electricity access are associated with higher need satisfaction and lower energy requirements (‘beneficial provisioning factors’). Conversely, extractivism and economic growth beyond moderate levels of affluence are associated with lower need satisfaction and greater energy requirements (‘detrimental provisioning factors’).”
Once our basic needs are met – access to housing, food, an income, increases in levels of income do not result in an increase in happiness – in fact happiness has remained, on average, constant over time, despite sharp rises in GNP per head. This is called the Easterlin Paradox. Furthermore, happiness is negatively related to own past income and the income of others (ref).
We are now learning that what matters are life support systems and intact ecosystems, running water and access to healthy and nutritious food, and weather conditions that don’t wreck our homes and our bodies. We really need to learn to appreciate the things that matter most, and to filter out everything else. We need to think carefully before we buy something new about whether it’s something that would really add value to our lives, or something we really need. We can stop buying plastic rubbish! We can limit our journeys by car and bus and try to walk or bike more. We can stop fast fashion and choose clothes that we can get loads and loads of wear out of. We can choose quality over quantity. We can share resources among our friend groups or even neighbourhoods, so that things like tools for DIY, books, clothes are easy to attain without extractivism. We can hold off on buying new tech if what we have already works. The benefit of starving the monster of consumerism, and reducing our monetary spend, is that we can work less and make more time for the things that can really fill us up – things like spending time with friends and family, taking care of our children, enjoying our hobbies and exercising.
Don’t Buy Unnecessary Plastic
We need drastic decarbonisation if we are to stand any real chance of preventing temperatures from exceeding a 1.5 degree rise above pre-industrial levels by the turn of the century. What really needs to happen is for governments around the world to prevent any further fossil fuel exploration.
The recent Production Gap Report which “measures the gap between Paris Agreement goals and countries’ planned and projected production of coal, oil, and gas”, has exposed the reality that we have already extracted, and are currently extracting, enough fossil fuels to maintain us up to a 1.5 degree temperature rise – the fossil fuels we have already taken up from the ground are plenty to keep us going while we rapidly transition to green energy infrastructure. Any further extraction from this point onwards will tip us over the climate target that we must stay within. Astonishingly though, governments globally have plans for further fossil fuel extraction, and “plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with a 1.5°C temperature limit.”
Over the period of the pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing badly affected the fossil fuel industry, as people travelled less. Electric vehicles present a challenge to the fossil fuel industry too. In response to ongoing demand issues, the fossil fuel industry plans to increase its sales of petrochemicals to compensate for losses elsewhere, including expansion of plastics used in packaging, clothing, technology, medical equipment, fertilisers, clothing, digital devices; chemicals in fertilisers and detergent; and rubber in tyres. So if you’re wondering why you’ve been struggling to find a plant pot without a tacky plastic plant in it over the past year, that might be why.
According to the International Energy Agency, demand for plastics has exceeded demand for other materials since 2000, and plastics are set to account for a third of all demand growth up to 2030, and half up to 2050. Some experts have predicted a 40% rise in plastic production over the next decade alone, in line with investment into new facilities by corporations such as Exxon Mobile and Shell. Carbon Capture and Storage is being pushed by fossil fuel companies as a solution to the carbon pollution they cause, however this has been shown to be greenwash and a poor solution to the environmental destruction caused by the industry.
So with all that being said, apart from campaigning for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and for laws to prevent further exploration, what is left is individual action. And individual actions count. On a mass scale they add up and affect systems. You can entirely cut out all the plastic stuff you buy that think you can do without. Does anyone really need a plastic calf stretcher from Amazon (look it up, it’s actually a thing!) or can you use a step in your house instead?! You can also move away from single use plastics, and opt for reusable substitutes. Where you can get a thing that has been commonly produced in plastic, but is actually available in a less environmentally damaging material, you can opt for that.
The items sold at Peach and Bumble are perfect for this action. Our bamboo toothbrush swaps out the plastic handle for bamboo, reducing plastic content by 97% compared with a manual plastic toothbrush. It has 83% lower climate change impact and 82% less land use and resulting reduction in biodiversity. Our reusable sanitary towels can be used over and over again for up to 5 years, saving 1500 single use sanitary towels per person per five year period.
In the comments below, let us know your top tips for helping the environment!
Victoria, Founder ♡