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The Magnificent Seven

Lord Digby | Published:

THE temptation to devote this month’s column to matters political is, as you may imagine, considerable. From the suitability or effectiveness of Boris as Prime Minister to the sheer and obvious unsuitability of Jeremy (Corbyn, not Hunt) as PM, acres of newsprint could be devoted to the subject.

This is not the Guernsey we want to leave to our grandchildren.

But instead, this month I want now to steer your thoughts to something utterly removed from the shenanigans at Westminster but which is so very important (some would say, more so) for all our lives and especially those of our children on this island: our environment.

I’m not going to witter on about the ‘Big Picture’ effects of climate change. Instead I’m going to have a go at hopefully getting your thought processes working on a few ways in which we can all (individually, with not a lot of effort but with a dollop of thought blended with action) make a bit of a difference to our environment and at least give our planet in general and Guernsey in particular a better chance of being fit for our grandchildren – and we might all save a few bob in the process.

So welcome to The Magnificent Seven: a few things that we, or those who govern us, can do right now to make that difference.

1, We can all have a view on what’s caused global warming – is it nature’s cycle or is it man’s behaviour (or, like me, do you think it’s both of these components that are causing it)? But one thing we cannot escape full and total responsibility for is the disgraceful amount of discarded plastic on our land, in the rivers and in the oceans. The health issues, the irreparable damage to nature and the appalling visual, water and soil pollution caused by this are immensely worrying. So we must take as much plastic out of our lives as possible, and soon. I do not mean going over-the-top by observing that cars or iPhones, remote controls or pens have a lot of plastic in them and we use them every day and thus concluding we are somehow absolved from doing our bit. Let’s leave that to the manufacturers. I mean just doing a few things differently in our day-to-day lives, such as:

. insist on paper bags for the fruit and veg at the supermarket.

. insist on repeat-use, recyclable bottles for your water, sparkling and still.

. tell Amazon, Next et al (and keep telling ’em) to stop using bubble wrap and plastic in their packaging when they send stuff to you.

. write to or email your national newspaper and insist (and keep insisting) they stop wrapping those Saturday and Sunday supplements in plastic.

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. ask your children, your friends, neighbours and your mates at work for ideas on how what you all do every day can be done without just one item of single-use plastic. Then repeat the exercise every month, possibly every week. Set up competitions in schools and the workplace, in shops and hotels to come up with new ideas to take the use of plastic out of our lives.

2, Given that imposing the charge of 5p on plastic bags at UK supermarkets saw a reduction of 80% in their one-time use (yes, 80%) why not make a substantial charge of at least £1 per bag but insist that the money is used to develop ways of taking plastic out of the packaging used in supply chains. The retailers’ accounts on this should be open to public inspection. Tell your supermarket, tell the politicians, tell your radio station, tell your friends. Let’s have this case heard in the Court of Public Opinion. There are so many ways that plastic shopping bags can belong to yesterday very quickly. It just needs us, the customer, to make a small shift in our habits.

3, Remember that 85% of all the plastic in our oceans comes from 10 rivers in the world and eight of them are in Asia.

We should all insist that any overseas aid in any form (from government or from individuals) comes with conditions around how plastic is used and abused.

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Let’s divert aid funds to pay for people so much less fortunate than ourselves to learn and develop respect for their environment and stop putting plastic in their rivers and thence into our oceans.

No action, no money. Simples.

4, Turn off the tap as we clean our teeth. Don’t let it run while the toothbrush is in our mouths. Imagine the water saving if we all did that twice a day, every day.

5, Don’t keep the engine running as we wait to pick up people in our cars: kids/grandchildren from school, friends from the shops.

6, Let’s test public opinion on Guernsey on whether there should be a law that by 2035 (in no less than just over 15 years’ time) all cars, buses and light commercial vehicles on the island must be powered solely by electricity. I can foresee the arguments for and against, but at least the debate will have begun. If ever there was a place tailor-made to be free of automotive exhaust-fumes it’s surely Guernsey. What an attractive selling point as an island destination that would be. At least let’s start the argument right now.

7, Besiege your politicians, local hotels, local attractions, local shops with demands for loads of charging points for electric cars; we want no one to have an excuse for not shifting to battery power.

There you have it: The Magnificent Seven.

Individually just one person on her or his own won’t make much of a difference by doing all this but if everyone in the island delivered, then what an example it would set for other parts of the developed world – and Guernsey will be seen to be setting the standard.

And who knows, instead of political leaders obsessing about the B-word, instead of the climate change luvvies demonstrating and entwining ‘the struggle’ into party politics, we, the ordinary girls and guys, can make more of a difference right now to our lives in our own environment than they ever will with their pontificating and questionable demonstrating.

And... we might even feel good about it; we’ll certainly feel good because of it, and so will our grandchildren.

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