Week 7 was always going to be a rough one. After a week of travel and bureaucracy, following on the back of family health scares, we entered week 7 knowing that my wife was going to be spending a chunk of it in hospital. The hospitalisation was going to be tough on several levels – it’s always scary when a family member goes in, the hospital in question was a long way from home, and it’s rare that my daughter has any significant time away from my wife so it’s particularly tough on both of them. It that context, it would be easy for convenience to take over, and for plastics to come flooding back it. However, the very fact that a family member is in hospital has only served to rededicate us to our plastic free push – namely because life is healthier once you cut out plastic and the bad things that tend to be wrapped in it.
Making regular trips to the city of Limoges did however open our options in terms of ethical shopping. As I discussed in week 6, being in rural areas can be limiting when it comes to plastic free shopping and organic options. While we are fortunate with our local markets, where many producers focus on organic / bio produce, cities such as Limoges certainly offer an additional degree of flexibility. One of our favourite finds of late has been the Biocoop on the western outskirts of Limoges. I’ve mentioned Biocoop before as being one of the best (if not, by some distance, the cheaper) organic chains in France. While we have a couple of smaller branches near to us, the outlet in Limoges is, by our standards, massive, and offers a huge amount more in terms of choice.
The most exciting thing that we have found in the Limoges Biocoop, and it really was exciting to find given how long we have been searching for one, is a plastic free organic chicken! I don’t think I’m overstating the fact that my heart skipped a little beat when seeing it, but we’ve spent the better part of 45 days looking for a plastic free bio chicken option, and now we’ve got it! Biocoop package their fresh meats and cheeses in a biodegradable paper film – it’s designed to go in your household compost. So, one of those challenges has finally been addressed – and yet, Limoges is not close, so the driving distance and fuel consumption is an issue.
Then stepped in our neighbours. Since moving to France, we have been looked after incredibly well. We live in a very small hamlet, with about four neighbours, and from day 1, they have been giving us food supplies, resources and general help around the land. Two years later and they are still doing it. In the last week, because they had too many to handle, one of our neighbours offered us four chickens and one cockerel. So, we now have an additional five animals clucking about the place, hopefully offering us both egg and meat solutions going forwards. This is the most sustainable way for us to proceed (short of cutting out meat and dairy altogether – something we have tried in the past, and been happy with, but for the complex nature of my wife’s medical needs, it’s not something we can entertain at this point) – being able to control what is going into our meat, the conditions they are kept in, and the lack of any transport or packaging are all of huge importance. Now it’s going to be a while before we reap any rewards from this development, but we are playing a longer game here, and putting in place the systems that, hopefully, in the months and years to come, will provide a significant, plastic free and sustainable reward.
Before wrapping up, I wanted to mention the #ClimateStrike and #SchoolsStrike4Climate movement. It finally came to the UK, in a big way, at the end of this week, and it was so heartening to see thousands of school children united in a commitment to a critical cause. The movement has been rolling around Europe for some time now, but the level of uptake in the UK in the last week was finally at such a level so as to warrant media coverage. While there was plenty of positive discussion of the schools strike, UK media has a heavy centre right to right wing political leaning, and much of the more higher profile commentaries were one of snide criticism. I found this to be appalling. Scores of high profile Conservatives lashed out at children ‘bunking off’ and challenged the negative impact the strike would have on teachers – though most of the teachers I have seen to have commented on the strike have only been positive about the level of support from children for this campaign. It just served to highlight the nature of the State in the UK, and the challenges we face from the system when it comes to climate change.
Children becoming politically engaged and motivated is something to be celebrated – the British State sees it as a threat, as they should. This is the next generation of voters, indeed many of those protesting on Friday will, in the next few years, be voting. If we were to introduce logical legislate reform to allow for votes at 16, many of them would be voting today, and they would be voting against a corrupt, flaccid, inward looking and ineffective government, which has talked a good game on climate change, yet done little to good effect in the time that they have had to move.
So, for all those striking, and for all those being criticised by self interested adult Tories, stick with it guys – they want you to stop, because they fear what you are doing. Rattle the cages and march on – it is your future, and you are well within your rights to fight for it.