So it’s the start of the festival season, Wimbledon and the women’s world cup are on tele and people are protesting around the world about various things. In Paris we’ve had the yellow jackets, in London there was extinction rebellion and most recently the extradition protesters in Hong Kong. What do these things have in common? Many things. People, passion and plastic being just 3.
Glastonbury – arguably the world most famous and well attended music festival banned the sale of plastic bottles – mooted to have saved 1 million from entering the waste system. On the face of it this if of course fantastic. Sir David Attenborough addressed a crowd congratulating them on embracing the new green ethos of the festival. Those of us who have seen the aftermath as the crowds left are asking ourselves just how many revellers actually really did embrace it? Reportedly thousands of tents just left where they were pegged – abandoned for the army of volunteers to dispose of. No recycling here.There is no point. The plastic these cheap tents and associated ‘gubbins’ (chairs, sleeping bags, pillows etc) are made from is non recyclable. Hi ho hi ho its off to landfill they go – thousands of them – by the tractor trailer load. Much the same as every other year this festival, and those like it are held. Now I’m not dissing festivals – I love them. I’ve never been to Glastonbury and one day I may even chance it, but Ill make sure we (the kids will be dragging me) stay in a reusable, hired shelter in the family area – or a 5 star hotel in the town! If you don’t bring a tent, you can’t leave a tent!
Earlier this spring areas of central London was occupied by a large group of people protesting under the banner of Extinction Rebellion. The aims of the protest where to cause maximum disruption to the business community whist raising awareness of environmental issues – because this was deemed to be the only remaining way to get the attention of the UK government. It is in theory quite easy for ministers – prime or otherwise to set emission targets, recycling statistics and timelines usually a long way in the future – 10/20/30 years when these people will be a long time retired and either lapping up the plaudits of their foresight, or blaming successive predecessors for failing on their great plans. But ER protestors have grown restless with repeated excuses, targets missed or downgraded to be more ‘achievable’ – read friendly to big influencing industry, insufficient funding and resource while all the time plastic is poured into the worlds seas and greenhouse gasses into the air. However, its all well and good expressing your views chained together to a big pink boat, to each other or flying in from LA to join in the chorus, but if you are truly an Eco warrior concerned about plastic, recycling, pollution, renewable energy and making those voted into power site up and listen – then lead by example. Clean up after yourselves and recycle what you can. If you can’t do either of those, then take your waste home with you. Don’t leave it for the true warriors – those who stay on after the rest have gone home – or into custody – to clean up and save face for the organisation and the message.
Having watched a lot of the games in the woman’s World Cup I have too say I am hugely impressed with the quality of football, sportsmanship and conduct of the fans – not always seen in the men’s game. One thing that is shared across the Mens and Women’s game however is the example set but the fans of the Japanese team. They are clearly very passionate about the sport and follow their team around the world. The fans join in with all the celebrations and commiserations just like everyone else, but what sets them apart is what they do at the final whistle. While opposition fans make their way out of the stadium the Japanese put on their gloves, take out their plastic bags and start systematically cleaning the stands of litter! I am not aware of any other nation, or clubs fans that do this. I think its unique which is sad in a way, but should be celebrated. One of the reasons the fans do this is due to the introduction of tidiness from a young age. Schools do not employ cleaners – the kids clean the school, and this habit is carried on throughout other aspects of life. Perhaps the take away message is to engage with the young, teach all of them the value of our planet and looking after it because after all this big green and blue lump we live on is theirs to live on and hand on to future generations. ARIGATOU GOZAIMASU Mick