Our Club Business meeting on March 9th saw the launch of our 2022-3 environmental project – Project Starfish – which is all about cutting our personal carbon footprint.
It is very easy to be both overwhelmed and depressed, even panicked by the problems and challenges created by global warming and our abuse of the planet on which we live – whether that’s through indifference, a lack of understanding or a lack of action.
But it’s really important to remember that each of us can make a difference. It might seem insignificant in the overall scheme of things, but it’s not! By each of us making a conscious decision to change our behaviour and actions, the sum total of what we do will make a real difference to the world around us. It’s the old “2+2=5” synergy thing…
One of the most important things we can do is share knowledge and experiences. We must “steal” other people’s ideas with pride, while not forgetting to do our own research and thinking through the knock on effects of our choices.
Why Project Starfish?
A couple of years ago when club member Margaret Galuszka was Midland Chase Regional President she used the starfish analogy of making a difference by saving one starfish at a time. You can view a short video of the Starfish Story here.
For our Planet sub group this analogy embodies what we want to achieve over the next year (and beyond) in the club.
We want to do many small things and make many small changes – without being overly competitive or prescriptive, or by “naming and shaming”. That approach doesn’t work. As anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight will know, the moment you are proscribed something is the moment you crave it most, so why bother? It’s counterproductive. Everything in moderation is the answer and that’s our approach here.
How did Project Starfish come about?
We held an online Planet Conference during lockdown which was very successful. Not only did it allow us to raise funds for planting trees as part of the Centenary Project, but it helped educate and signpost us to some excellent resources such as the Carbon Buddy Manual, and various United Nations materials.
During lockdown we’ve also managed – thanks to the sterling efforts of members – to carry out several litter picks, plant bulbs and trees including hedges and an orchard, and participate in citizen science projects and community gardening. Our reuse and repurposing efforts have massively increased, and we can redirect a much wider range of items from landfill as a result including unwanted tech items such as tablets and computers, crisp packets and other “mixed media” packaging..
But we needed to be able to be together for the launch of our core project and that finally happened in March ready for the new Presidential Year…Being in the room with most of our members was key to the successful launch and gaining buy-in, enthusiasm and engagement.
What is Project Starfish?
Project Starfish is “simply” a way of capturing those individual pledges to make change, sharing them with others and consolidating them into an overall measure of progress for the whole club.
We all prepared for the launch by carrying out a Personal Carbon Footprint Calculation. Most of us didn’t like the results. Others were pleasantly surprised. Either way it gave each of us a good insight into areas we might like to take a closer look at as individuals or households.
In table groups we shared our carbon footprint results (IF we wished) and talked through various themes to capture some of the actions we wanted to consider or take. These included:
- Waste reduction
- Energy consumption
- Food waste reduction
- Eco-friendly technology
- Green spaces
- Helping wildlife
- Making wise choices in consumption e.g. fashion, food, household goods and consumables
- Fix, hire, swap, donate, share
The key to the whole project is for us to choose areas we can control ourselves, which are also areas where we want to make change.
Not everyone wants to give up or reduce flying, not everyone can afford solar panels or air source heat pumps, and so on. BUT we can all change something.
What have we done so far?
In March various members have made changes. One has changed her central heating radiator control approach to manage this at the level of each radiator by installing digital TRVs. She will monitor her progress on this and install more in the future.
Another member was concerned about her family’s food waste. Over lockdown home delivery of take away food had become the default option for her son and his girlfriend, which meant they were not eating the healthy meals she prepared for the whole family. This led to significant wastage. So they had a family chat and the decision was that she would not cater for them in quite the same way. So she’s been using her slow cooker so they can help themselves and if they choose not to, then the “left overs” are frozen for another time. By radically changing what she buys (including greatly reducing items which can’t be frozen e.g. salads) this member managed to save £50 on her weekly shop and prevent food waste into the bargain!
Yet another member has the “pond bug” and has dug a second larger pond and created some extra homes for nature by using coils of unwanted wire filled with hedge and tree cuttings. Three new bird boxes have been put up, and she has also finally got round to swapping out the few remaining old style light bulbs in her home for low energy ones.
How will we keep up this good work?
Someone commented that it will be quite hard and that people won’t have a “big change” to report every month…That’s absolutely right of course.
So we’ve designed a worksheet which we can use each meeting to capture our progress – however small – and share it with the group as a whole. We will have a regular slot within our Programme Action section to do this…
We’ll keep you posted on our progress and the challenges we face/overcome and hope to be able to report on a very successful project at the end of the year in March 2023.
Wish us luck!