Project coordinator, Jericho Road Solutions, energy champion, 34.
Attended the Brighton Station Rethink Challenge
How aware of sustainability were you before you started The Rethink Challenge?
I was pretty ecologically conscious anyway – part of the reason I chose to do the course was because I would like to teach it myself in Hastings, where I currently live. But it’s getting from being conscious to being practical and that’s what I thought was really useful about The Rethink Challenge.
What sorts of sustainable things were you doing in your life already?
I was making choices when I bought stuff – buying eco-friendly cleaning and cosmetic products, for example. I monitor my energy use at home; I don’t drive, I travel by bicycle. I do it partly because of the impact on me and partly because of the impact on the environment.
Why is sustainability important to you?
Because I realise that climate change is a very important issue and it doesn’t seem that governments are making the right decisions fast enough. Therefore, it’s up to individuals to do what they can. Once governments see the electorate think sustainability is important, they might make bigger changes.
What was preventing you from doing more about climate change in your life?
I try to do the right things but sometimes I found I was falling into old habits. It’s because non-sustainable behaviour is normalised – we have lived in a certain way for so long that you have to make more of an effort to be environmentally aware and make conscious choices. There are huge parts of society that don’t think about these things.
What were you hoping to get out of The Rethink Challenge?
I wanted to learn some more practical measures that I could teach others. The course helps you reduce your carbon footprint to a tonne and gives you a whole range of actions you can take to cut it down.
How was the course?
Great – we played a game in one session that was very interactive, and you hear from the rest of the group where they are at and how engaged they are. It brought up things I hadn’t thought about before. Take food: I always think about where it’s made and what it takes to make it but I haven’t really thought about the packaging. For instance, I knew tin cans could be recycled but hadn’t thought about the carbon emissions associated with making the tin and transporting it.
What’s it like working in a group?
Really good – you can bounce ideas off each other and it helps you look at stuff in other ways. It’s helped me be more understanding of those that aren’t necessarily as aware as they could be. And it’s really good to hear from other people who can be really engaged in one area and then not so much in another without realising it. Then you watch that opening up for them – so yes, very useful.
Isn’t climate change a bit oppressive? There’s so much you could do, it’s easy to feel guilty that you’re not doing enough?
I’d already experienced this in my studies – that feeling of despair that you’ve got to change your whole life. However, if you care about this stuff it’s really inspiring to do something about it. No one running this course or taking part is judging you or telling you what to do. They are just making you aware of the impact of all our actions and what you could do about it.
What actions did you start taking during the course?
I’m taking meter readings – we are encouraged to do that as part of the course. The Rethink Challenge has reignited my awareness, and I am thinking a lot more about my use of energy, for example. I am definitely doing more than I was before. The course helps you do a complete overhaul of all the choices that you make. It has helped me think about the way I think about stuff and how I live.
Has your emotional response to climate change been influenced by the course?
Yes, I think so. Rather than feeling despair or guilt about it, I feel like getting on and taking action. The course gives you a way forward.
What will you do next?
I am involved with the Hastings Environmental Network and I have already considered how to engage people in a way that deals with the despair they might feel about it. Doing this course is about getting practical tools for how to do that. I would like to hold workshops and engage people on all the issues such as food and travel etc. I’d also like to start local growing projects.