Be a starling in 2017

Exactly a year  ago I wrote a post using the quote from John Taylor below (you can see his original post on Facebook here). As I wrote then, it summarises exactly and succinctly my outlook and the outlook I try to encourage in others…

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Be a starling

I work as a Climate Change Advisor in Suffolk, UK. It fascinates me how people react to documentaries and films on climate change, and what motivates people to act. I’ve seen a lot of messages saying that it is all too much and it makes them depressed. Something that helped me was an analogy I first heard from Systems and Feedback Thinker, David Wasdell. The point he made and that I want to emphasise is this. How we define a problem determines how we react to it. Climate change, we are told is a BIG problem. A favourite analogy among politicians and commenters is that it is like an oil tanker. It is a vast problem with it’s own inertia and a long turning circle. The trouble is, this image creates a psychological disconnect when it comes to individual action. How is me changing a light bulb going to turn this ship around?
But this is not how I see climate change. For me, it is like a murmuration of starlings. It looks big, but look closer and you will see it is really made up of thousands and thousands of smaller individual actions and choices. It is how I heat my house, the type of car you drive, the air conditioning in that office on my street, on everyone’s street. There is no single control room driving this ship, Climate Change is an emergent property of all our individual actions.
And compared to an oil tanker, change in a flock is agile and swift. Yes, please care about the bigger picture, but if you act in the areas that you directly influence, you have the power to be the bird that turns. So do something in your life today, and be proud and tell people about it. The birds around you will see and follow suit, and soon that change will ripple through out the whole flock. If you think of climate change like this, a global response can begin with you.

 

John Taylor @coppicejt

So, re-reading it today, I thought I’d share some of those “individual actions” that all make a difference. I wandered around the house this morning a took these six photographs of some of the little things that I do…

All the above have helped to reduce the amount of packaging, especially plastic packaging, that I am responsible for, as well as reducing the volume of goods transported around the country. All of these things are now part of my everyday life, and not something that I think much about, but each one makes a difference and helps in environmental terms. Every choice you make in life is important – you are important – so do your bit and shout about it from the rooftops (oh and follow John on Twitter).

Thanks again to John for allowing me to share his words.

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13 Comments

  1. Very true and a lovely way to encourage people. You could have added your repairs and compost bin!

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  2. Perhaps you could help me with a problem I’ve had. I’ve tried using bar soap to wash my hair, but it leaves a residue that won’t wash out. Have you had that problem?

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    • The manufacturers of the shampoo bar I use warn you that you might notice a residue to begin with, but that as your hair gets used to it over the weeks, it will disappear. This does seem to be the case for me. I have discovered that my hair is best if I wash, rinse and repeat (I used to just do it once), although this might be related to chemicals in my hair because I go swimming so often!

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  3. What a wonderfully wise picture your friend has shared. I like the way he thinks very much! I avoid fb like the plague and only open it if someone has tagged me, otherwise I’d follow him. 🙂 I make all my own house cleaning products – baking soda and white vinegar and thyme essential oils are my standbys. And I’m always happy when I’ve influenced someone else to take it up too.

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  4. I like the analogy of the starlings. It’s very frustrating when #45 leads our country in reverse. Makes me grind my teeth at the ignorance of it all. I do so many things to try and make things better when so many just push the envelope without a care. My family are all on the same page but then I go to buy meat and they want me to buy from the case with Styrofoam packaging. I won’t. I get mine from the butcher wrapped in paper and explain why. They have to do as they are told by the conglomerate they work for. So, so frustrating.

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  5. Yes, I think we all underestimate our ability to make a difference. And if even half of us made changes, it would work out to the big difference!

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  6. Ann Pole

     /  November 5, 2017

    Love the starling analogy. Many small changes here too. Do what you can, that’s all anyone can ask.

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  7. I have been doing many eco ‘things’ for about 45 years now and am considered eccentric by many. There is always more to be done and you are an extremely inspiring Snail!

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