April 2018: Sustainability

March 26 2018

The story of how we are dealing with climate change has moved on quite a way since sustainability organisations sprang up over ten years ago in Redland, Bishopston and Westbury-on-Trym.

The story of how we are dealing with climate change has moved on quite a way since sustainability organisations sprang up over ten years ago in Redland, Bishopston and Westbury-on-Trym. Their overarching themes were to learn about the issues and bring them to the attention of their communities through different actions. Both Redland and Westbury-on-Trym raised awareness of the need for locally produced food through starting Farmer's Markets, and all three organised public talks and events about things like transport, recycling, energy, housing, self sufficiency and the importance of community, from which we still benefit. 

Most people in our areas are now aware of the language of climate change. Thanks to help from David Attenborough our communities know how bad the plastic marine pollution we have caused is, use their own bags for shopping, and pressure supermarkets to stop using it. The waste recycling system we have did not exist ten years ago, we have a better understanding of the need for and benefits of slower driving, using public transport, walking or cycling, and reclaiming the streets has become a widely understood concept. We know about the need for water conservation, and city wide we have the Bristol Food Network, the Energy Cooperative and the Bristol Pound, all of which are designed to make our communities more resilient, self sufficient, and less energy intense.

With that achieved in ten years, what might we do in the next ten? Looking through the lenses of food, transport, energy and education the choice is almost unlimited. How can we cut food miles to 90% of 2005 through eating more locally grown food and growing our own? How can we seriously reduce traffic congestion and make our air clean and safe? How can we make it commonly accepted practice that living more sustainably with less energy enhances, not diminishes, the quality of our lives. Then it would only be a small step to understanding things like the health benefits of not using cars all the time, the disadvantages of supermarkets and the advantages of shopping diversity and growing food in public and private spaces. How can we build on what we have done so far to reclaim our streets, build a greater sense of community, and work cooperatively to make our building stock less energy intensive? What technologies do we need to develop and bygone skills resurrect? What is the role of education?

If you want to become active in using a skill you have to help us live more sustainably, why not use the structures of Sustainable Redland, Bishopston or Westbury-on-Trym to get going? The experience and contacts of those organisations could push you a long way on your journey, and all three have good websites to start you off.