I’m late to the blog post this week, but with good reason. On Sunday, we attended a climate action march in the city of Bordeaux. It was a bit of a trip to participate, but we felt we needed to show our support for the movement, and there was little on our doorstep in the way of protest activities – perhaps something we can look to change as well? As a result, we were away from home all day Sunday, braving some pretty heavy rain and hail storms – interspersed with balmy sunshine, warm enough for t-shirts – if ever there was a day to flag up the impact of climate change, this might have been the perfect one for it.
The march was really encouraging – some 2000 individuals joined, making the climate march in Bordeaux one of the largest in the whole of France. The atmosphere was warm, with lots of singing and chanting. The night before we had been preparing some placards, reusing old cardboard boxes (which will now go into our compost pile) – mine drew attention to Kalaallit Nunaat, more commonly known as Greenland. I visited Greenland almost a decade ago, and I have vivid memories speaking to locals about their concerns for both their landscapes and the wildlife (upon which so many depend on for their livelihood – tied to tourism). I wanted to keep in heart and mind, one of the places in the world most susceptible to the impacts of climate change – but one which is so remote, so as to be far too easily forgotten by the many.
We didn’t lose sight of our #plasticfree targets, and that took some preparation on the day, given we were a long way from home, in a city we did not know well. However, a Biocoop shop earlier in the week meant we were well stocked with organic food supplies and snacks, which kept us going. Then the ever rewarding TooGoodToGo app served us up a sack of pastries, all of which were surprisingly fresh. We ended the day in a little brewery bar, which prides itself on a #zerowaste target – so much so that their organic colas came with actual metal straws. There was a lot to be excited about, but reusable straws was an unexpected highlight.
I think this is going to be something of a regular family activity now. By embracing the protest movements in our current home land, we have the opportunity to reinforce our lifestyle choices, explore new parts of France, and discover new businesses that are embracing our philosophies – it’s all really positive.
Back home, and while the plastic free campaign is going really well inside the house, I had a disappointing revelation about what was going on outside. We made the decision last year, to significantly enhance the ecological potential of our home. We draw all our heating from renewable wood sources (namely, our own woodland), which means keeping the house warm costs nothing. We are looking to introduce solar, and reopen a nearby well in the coming year as well. However, our roof was a wreck. A mixture of disintegrating tiles, and a lack of any form of insulation, meant our free heat, was mostly disappearing out of the ceilings. This has all changed though, with a brand new roof, fully insulated, almost in a state of completion.
The drawback to all this, and I only really noticed this halfway through construction, is that all of the insulation material, and all of the tiles, came wrapped in plastic. It was a real kick in the stomach to see it piling up as the tiles were unpackaged and taken up on to the roof. It raised some really awkward questions for me – what was the environmental cost of enhancing the environmental capabilities of my home? While I am going to be making my home significantly more energy efficient, what was the energy output in producing (and disposing) of all of the plastics that were involved in making it happen? I don’t know if there is a measurable way of gauging the answers to those questions, and I would like to think that the enhancements we have made would at least cancel out the impact of the plastics involved, though I can in no way say that with confidence.
This goes back to education and awareness – was there a more eco-friendly building option, or supplier? Could we have found a firm that works on roofs but is plastic free? If there was one, would we have been able to afford them? It’s really difficult and, sadly, not really a question we are going to get a chance to revisit – this roof should be for life, we won’t (hopefully) ever need another one. Still, for future works, we will at the very least be mindful to ask how much plastic would be involved, and what we could do to reduce its presence in our future builds.
On to week 5 – which will include an anti-pesticides demo!