Follow up climate change protest with action to cut pollution and waste

Janet Downs's picture

Young people are right to care about the future.  But marching while skipping school is only one, and not necessarily the most productive, step.

Fiona Carne, director of Alternatives in Education, lists ten things schools can do to address climate change in Schools Week.    They are (my comments in brackets):

1       Reduce meat consumption

2       Stop trips abroad which involve flying.  Use the train (and buses in areas where there are no trains).  Replace trips with local social and environmental projects. 

3       Ensure environmental education permeates the whole curriculum.  (Make sure pupils learn to sew, knit and cook meals from scratch).

4       Recycle.  Ban single-use plastic.  Use biodegradable cleaning products.  (Show pupils how to upcycle items from charity shops: a school bag made from a cast-off denim jacket, perhaps, or patchwork totes from remnants.)

5       Switch off lights and turn down heating.

6       Avoid cheap, imported school uniforms.  Make second-hand uniform available.  (Don’t insist on unnecessary items such as book bags with the school logo.   Make it easier for parents to purchase or hand down uniform by stipulating a colour rather than requiring parents to buy from a named supplier).

7       Switch to an ethical banker.

8       Encourage walking or cycling to school.

9       Grow veg (and flowers).  Plant trees.

10   Consider setting up Climate Change Action Committee comprising staff, pupils, parents and the local community

All but eight and ten are actions which combat pollution and waste irrespective of whether these contribute to climate change.

There is much in the above lists which children and young people can do individually.  Marching raises awareness – and is great fun.   But without being backed up with effective action which actually reduces pollution and over-consumption, it is nothing more than banner waving.


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Douglas Hainline's picture
Tue, 19/03/2019 - 16:00

These are all very good as far as they go, but they don't go nearly far enough.

Schools should implement the following policies immediately, making them compulsory for all:

(1) No school trips is a good idea, but it's not enough. We must not use artificial means of transport at all. Walk, or ride a horse. If you can't get there by doing that, don't go. Don't use anything in school that hasn't been transported naturally.

(2) No meat at all, and no vegetables grown with fertilizer or pesticides, or transported further than a mile -- by horses.

(3) No use of modern medicines, surgery, X-rays, vaccines, etc... all of which are products of modern industrial (polluting) society.

(4) All lighting and heating should be natural. No use of electricity, the production of which pollutes the earth.

(5) All clothes to be hand-made, from natural fibres, grown in your garden. No use of anything that has to be transported.

(6) New school buildings to be made by hand, out of local natural materials: mud, straw, fallen branches, pebbles.

If schools will follow this program consistently, society will see many benefits. For one thing, mass education will cost a lot less -- roughly what it did in the Middle Ages.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 20/03/2019 - 08:44

Thank you for your parody of extreme environmental action.  I shall begin growing hemp immediately.

Douglas Hainline's picture
Wed, 20/03/2019 - 09:41

Hmmm.... my next-door neighbor was doing that, and the police came round and made him tear up the plants.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 20/03/2019 - 10:07

But how can I weave fabric for my own clothes if I can't grow hemp?   I suppose I could keep sheep for their wool but I've been told shearing is cruel even in the hottest weather - and what to do with the meat?  Lamb hot pot is out of the question, I guess.

Destroying hemp reminded me of when we moved to a village in south Lincolnshire years ago.  The first year our garden was filled with the most glorious poppies.  We hadn't planted any poppy seeds and they looked rather like the opium variety.  Turned out that's what they were.  In the late Victorian years, there was a still in the village which processed oils including laudanum.  There used to be fields of plants destined for distillation around the village including lavender and opium poppies.  It must have looked and smelt wonderful.  My poppies were from seeds resting in the soil which were disturbed when we dug it.  I began to notice self-set opium poppies all over the place.  Sadly, they seem to have diminished in recent years.

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