We have held a number of talks across the the past few months starting with our fringe event as part of the PECT Green Festival, a discussion titled ‘Consumerism: What we buy and the alternatives’. It was a very healthy turnout and a very healthy discussion, with lots of input from the attendees and lots to take away and think about. We covered the topic from the angle of the individual consumer, looking at buying habits when it comes to food. Do we shop locally in the market and the butchers or do we go to the supermarket? Do we buy organic? Do we buy in season? We also looked briefly at the fashion industry, both in terms of clothing and in terms of buying for the home. Is it really a taboo to buy second-hand? In the second half we changed tactics, and looked at consumerism as a societal model. Are we just pawns on a chess board? Do we really have a voice? Sadly we had to bring it to an end for the day, but as the enthusiasm and passion was clear, we have decided to run other discussions like this in the future; looking at specific situations like consumerism of the new parent, and revisiting topics which we just scratched the surface of like social structures. If you have any ideas on topics you would like to discuss, please get in touch and we can add them into the mix.
In September 2016, as part of the International Picnic held at The Green Backyard, we held a discussion on Food and Globalisation. Again, it was a very healthy turnout with a really active discussion. We looked at what different cultures across the world would typically eat and how much it would cost. Generally the west were eating the processed packaged diet with the highest price tags and the developing countries eating food in much more natural states, with fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses and grains, which were also the cheaper options, although we did discuss if this was due to choices and availability. Those in attendance mostly commented that they have a fairly natural diet, however were aware they had processed and packaged food too, and aware on their privilege to have this. We also touched on the topic of where our food was coming from, local independent stores or supermarkets, whether to buy organic or not and so much more.
In October, we partnered with Metal for the Lucy + Jorge Orta: Food exhibition for the Waste Not Want Not discussion. This saw people from inspiring grassroot movements from across the country give presentations of their projects and raise awareness about the amount of food that is wasted and what we can do about it. From asking our supermarkets to only bake the bread they know they can sell, to being more accepting of oddly shaped fruit and vegetables. In addition, they spoke about the differences between best before and use by dates and the fact that what is most important is to use our senses to be our own judge about what we eat.
We do plan on holding some more discussions in future, and if you would like to hold a discussion, you do not need to be an expert, just an interest in talking about an issue, please do get in touch.
At our April meeting we decided we needed a main project to focus our energy with a clear objective. We started with thoughts around the main purpose of the transition movement, which is to be environmentally sustainable and to reduce CO2 emissions. And so we took up a new project to get the council to divest their pension fund from fossil fuels. After discovering that the pension fund does not sit with the city council, but the county council, we contacted 350.org, an organisation who help with community divestment campaigns. They put us in touch with Fossil Free Cambridgeshire (FFC), who had been running since early 2015 and we now collaborate with FFC on this campaign/project.
Our plan is 2 fold:
- We would like to see Peterborough City Council sign up to divestment.
- Work with FFC to get Cambridgeshire County Council Pension Fund Committee to agree to divest from fossil fuels
If you would like to join in with this project, or simply would like to find out more about it, please just come along to our next meeting.
On Tuesday 8th March, Clare and and I visited the Sustainable Stamford, Stamford Transition Town Bright Green Energy Show 2016. Events were held across the week, though we were only able to attend the Tuesday night film screenings, but it was well worth a visit. A number of films were shown, some depicting what other Transition Towns have achieved. There were community owned energy generation projects in Fintry, Lewes, and South East London. One had created an investment model for the public to get involved and support the project; another had partnered with an energy company to part own a bigger project. Projects included both solar and wind energy generation. Two films looked at helping people on an individual basis, by draught busting for those in need, and helping people become more sustainable with their energy needs in an isolated town. The longest film was about Germany’s plan to become a market leader in the renewables sector, and was very informative, detailing the science behind different types of renewables, and giving a wider context to what can sometimes be an overwhelming topic. Denmark is also working hard to become a market leader, and plans to be entirely renewable, combining various technologies to collectively support its needs for power, heat and transport. It was encouraging and inspiring, giving us ideas of what we could do both now and in the future.
There was an informative exhibition, detailing many ways to reduce energy consumption, from changing light bulbs to adding loft insulation, and explaining the different types of renewable energy generation, ending with tips on what people can do now for free. This exhibition was supported by various organisations, who had stalls showcasing their products, including a lighting company selling LED lights and an energy company selling heat pumps, many of which produced case studies of projects they have worked on. I will bring the exhibition booklet, with copies of the exhibition boards, to our next meeting.
We were also able to talk with members of the Stamford group, discussing their successful projects, but also the challenges they have faced. They have created subgroups around themes, the energy group having compiled the information for the Bright Green Energy Show 2016. They also have groups focusing on waste, food, transport, and education. They have learned from bitter experience that each subgroup needs to have a key enthusiastic member to maintain momentum, and they offered to support us by sharing ideas and learning.