How you hang your toilet paper could be the secret to tackling climate change...
Updated: Apr 13
“We must come to the conclusion that the primary group we belong to is the human race. That is our inevitable future. Anything else is regressive and far too dangerous.” Robert Green, from his book, The Laws of Human Nature.
Throughout history human beings have turned against each other for one reason or another. From the extremes of wars over land, borders and religion to the more banal divides of Blur v Oasis, toilet paper hanging on the outside or inside and whether the tomato sauce goes in the fridge or cupboard. As a race, it seems we simply can’t get along.
Last week, during our startup planning meeting for 2020, Leigh and I ended up chatting about the increasing factions appearing around climate change. The in fighting, the shaming, the targeting of people who aren’t doing ‘enough’ or the downright ridiculous classifying those who are, as ‘crusties’ or diabolically as ‘extremists’, it’s a sorry state of affairs.
Meat eaters are having a go at people who are vegan. The vegans are hating on meat eaters (and vegetarians probably). Fly shaming of ordinary folks taking commercial flights - the Swedish even have a name for it ‘flygskam’. And the so called ‘zero wasters’ showing off their small jars of rubbish (which is a bullshit exaggeration by the way).
I’ll openly admit I’ve been guilty of it myself. When I first started out on this path of realisation I messaged a prominent ‘zero waste’ figure about their boastful travel/#wanderlust posts on social media. To be fair, I had just started discovering the concept and genuinely wanted to try to get my head around it all. I was also going through a stage of feeling guilty about absolutely bloody everything I did having an effect on the planet. When I look back, whilst I wasn’t trying to be nasty, it was unfair of me to question this stranger’s choices, even if it was for my own research and understanding.
That was over three years ago. And my discussion with Leigh last week showed me how much I've moved on, grown and learned a bit more. And I continue to learn. I have my rules that I do my best to stick to – no bottled water, no fruit/veg packaged in plastic, meat consumption 20% and sourced locally as much as possible etc, etc. But I'm far from perfect and I've made my peace with that.
Leigh and I both agreed that judging others for their choices is not a good state to be in. Because no one knows the full picture of the individual efforts people are making. And people who aren't yet on board the hydrogen powered bus of climate change action (whatever street that may go down), it's perhaps better to try to empathise and realise that they may not understand it, they don’t know how or where to start, they don’t consider climate change at all because their priority is survival (for many people still living in poverty using food banks etc, this is reality). Or maybe many people just need more time to process it all. I took long enough to get on board myself, so who am I to evangelise!
There is no one solution to climate change. Individuals living ‘normal’ lives are certainly not to blame. And we are absolutely not the ones who should be shamed into fixing it to the point of feeling guilty when we take a commercial flight that would have flown anyway. We need to stop the division, stop the hating, stop the shaming, the finger pointing, the nastiness and superiority amongst the 98%. We need those human beings involved in Governments (US, China, Australia, Qatar, the UK) and the human beings who are systematically utilising their corporations to make money whilst fucking up the planet, to realise that they are part of the human race. And we need them to join in through action, not empty sentiment.
This is why we are committed to being a part of the bigger picture. We want collaboration and unity. Coming together over divisions and derision. It’s a tall order as it’s human nature to seek solace in groups. But solving climate change is perhaps the tallest order any of us will face. And, aside from death, it’s perhaps the one thing that each and every one of us is faced with.
“We must come to the conclusion that the primary group we belong to is the human race. That is our inevitable future. Anything else is regressive and far too dangerous.” Robert Green, from his book, The Laws of Human Nature. And we don't care how you hang your toilet paper...