Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – report

2G3S Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – by Zoom

16 people present, with 4 apologies.  Claire Lord chaired.

Review of 2020

2 Conversation Evenings in person (Natural Disasters; Eco-friendly gardening); 3 by Zoom (Cook stoves in Africa; Extinction Rebellion; Sustainable Diet).  Better attendance in person, although the Zoom meetings still averaged around 15 people.

1 Repair Café, in Great Shelford at the end of February.  Held jointly with GS Free Church who ran a Swish (high-quality clothes swap) at the same time.  Very successful with nearly 70 items seen and 12 repairers present – over 50% items repaired.

Other Events: Open Eco home; guided nature walks; fruit and veg swap; ‘The Story of Plastic’ online film show and discussion.

Campaigns: SE Busway proposals; Greater Cambridge Green Infrastructure survey.  Traffic surveys in Great Shelford.  Involvement with 4 local bids to South Cambridgeshire’s Zero Carbon grant scheme, all successful.  Major representation at MP Anthony Browne’s Zoom calls as part of The Time Is Now campaign and subsequently.

Plans for 2021

Agreed to meet every month and alternate planning meetings with events; probably all on Mondays or Thursdays.

Conversation Evenings: It was thought that we should ensure conversation evenings include what actions we can take locally in our community or as individuals, and pick events that will be attractive more widely in the community.

Agreement of themes: Water, local planning issues and possibly some of the strands in the government’s 10-point plan on climate change, eg green public transport, cycling and walking; greener buildings; protecting our natural environment.

Other events considered: cycle rides; nature walks; another Wandlebury event; virtual Repair Café (like Gardeners’ Question Time?)

Roles

Convenor: Claire Lord

Co-chairs: Sophi Berridge, Peter Fane

Treasurer: Chris Cooper

Meeting notes: Jane Chisholm, Helen Hale

Publicity: Beth Atkin (social media), Helen Hale (village magazines), Linda Whitebread (newsletter and website)

Repair Cafés: Chris Cooper, Yasmin Emerson

Greener Sawston rep: Yasmin Emerson

You can contact any of us at moc.l1610988278iamg@1610988278ssssp1610988278uorgn1610988278eerg1610988278 – say who the email is for and it will be forwarded.

Sustainable Dietary Choices

In a talk on 23 November, Duncan Catchpole* ran through his ‘Top 10’ food sustainability considerations:

  • Try to eat less meat and dairy. Not just for animal welfare and carbon emissions: animals are fed more food than they produce for human consumption, so inefficient.  Growing animal feed is also a major cause of deforestation.
  • Minimise food waste: food waste alone causes 10% of greenhouse gases. Needing to feed the growing world population is seen as a justification for more intensive food production – but we should have enough anyway: a third of food currently produced is wasted (not just by consumers – there is systemic waste in food chains).
  • Look out for sustainable production methods: eg organic, biodynamic, permaculture – these help look after the long-term quality of our soil.
  • Healthy eating: ‘5 a Day’ still a good maxim, both for your health and resulting impact on resources such as NHS. And is your diet sustainable in 3 main ways: environmentally, socially and economically?
  • Consider food miles: energy, emissions, refrigeration costs.
  • Avoid highly processed food: commodification of food leading to lower production standards, long supply chains, reduction in nutritional value.
  • Avoid big corporates: their motive is profit, not keeping people fed and healthy. They push out small, local providers.
  • Seasonal food: eat what is available each season.
  • Sustainable Fish: 85% of global fish stocks now depleted. Look for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) endorsement .
  • Packaging: try to buy food with minimum packaging, or where you can, refill containers. (Green Weigh just opened in Sawston; also Organic Health in Hauxton; Full Circle and Arjuna shops in Cambridge; and of course the various local organic veg box companies, including Duncan’s own: Cambridge Organic.  See below for details).

Notes

*Duncan Catchpole is the founder and owner of Cambridge Organic (formerly Cambridge Organic Food Company, or COFCO) and has over twenty years’ experience in the sustainable food and drink sector.  He is a founding committee member of Cambridge Sustainable Food and since its inception has been leading CSF’s headline project of creating a Sustainable Food Hub for Cambridge – a local network of food growers, producers, and consumers.

Address/contact details of local no-waste shops as at November 2020  Contact the shops to see what online / delivery / click and collect facilities are currently available.

Green Weigh 60 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3BG  tel 01223 971240  (Website pending: www.greenweighshop.co.uk)  Open Tue – Fri 9 – 5, Sat 9 – 2.30.

Organic Health: 87 Church Rd, Hauxton, Cambridge CB22 5HS  tel 01223 870101  No website or email.  Current opening times: Fri 1 – 5, Sat 9.30 – 12 and 1 – 5

Arjuna Wholefoods 12 Mill Road Cambridge CB1 2AD  tel 01223 364745   Open Mon – Sat 9.30 – 6.00.

Full Circle: 9 Norfolk Street Cambridge CB1 2LD  tel 01223 353158   Open Tues – Sat 10 – 5; Sunday 10 – 4.

Cambridge Organic  (Formerly Cambridge Organic Food Company) box delivery service tel: 01223 873300

 

Extinction Rebellion Conversation Evening 26 October 2020 – Report

from Linda Whitebread

Cambridge XR members Jenny and Derek Langley talked to us about Extinction Rebellion and answered questions.  They stressed the need to act now on the threats to life on earth; the usual democratic means (via Parliament, petitions, letters, demonstrations etc) are not working quickly enough.

Key XR principles:

  • Non violent
  • Respect for other people even if you disagree with them
  • Acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of your actions
  • Shared mission to create a world safe for everyone: respectful, compassionate, sustainable, equable, connected
  • No alcohol, no drugs
  • No shame, no blame
  • Decisions decentralised and ideally reached by consensus

(LW: this is a personal take on what was said: to see a full list of XR principles and values visit their website)

Afterwards Jenny sent us the following information and follow-up links:

Science/Info about Climate and Ecological Crisis

Science and biodiversity loss – there is loads online and I’d point you towards the XR ‘Heading for Extinction and what to do about it’ (Larch Maxey talk on YouTube).

Cambridge Climate lecture series   (Especially the second one 21st Feb 2019 Professor Schellnhuber  ‘2100: A Climate-Space Odyssey’ – a really good overview of the climate science)

WWF Living Planet Report 2020

Absolute Zero. A collaborative research programme led by Julian Allwood, Professor of Engineering and the Environment at Cambridge, aims to cut the UK’s emissions by 2050 by placing resource efficiency at the heart of future industrial strategy. Very good on practical aspects of what has to be done to achieve zero carbon by 2050.

Extinction Rebellion – useful websites

Cambridge XR   including divestment campaign

Sign-up for newsletters: (bottom of page)

Facebook page

Rebellion Academy: (online training and info for lots of roles in XR)

The only regular action that is happening in Cambridge at the moment is Silent Rebellion, a meditative action, online 9.30 and at Christ’s Pieces 11.30 every Saturday, organised by the Buddhist Affinity Group.  They are keen to spread Silent Rebellion – you could start one of your own!

Jenny Langley

 

 

Greenpeace ‘Speaker Shorts’ Events in June

(Taken from the Greenpeace website)

Join our ‘Speaker Shorts’ talks in June

Throughout June Greenpeace is running an exciting new programme called Speaker Shorts. These are free 15 minute talks followed by an interactive Q&A on areas that Greenpeace is campaigning on. From protecting our forests and oceans, to plastics and the climate crisis, Speaker Shorts will give an introduction to the topic and simple things you can do to help!

Speaker Shorts talks will be delivered by members of our Greenpeace Speakers network – passionate and knowledgeable volunteers who know a lot about our work.

The talks will run as a Zoom webinar, which is a secure and private way for you and your family to participate in these fun and interactive talks. You’ll need to download Zoom for free in order to join.

Find out more about each talk and register at the links below:

Family friendly:

Young people and students:

Adults and general audiences:

What next after coronavirus: conversations about ‘The Flip’

People might remember the 2009 film ‘The Age of Stupid’, an independent film which looked at how we were ignoring the signs of the impending climate crisis.

Franny Armstrong, who directed the film, is now making a series of videos in which leading thinkers discuss how we can ‘flip’ from corona virus to climate safety in just a few years.

In the first of these conversations, hear George Monbiot, Caroline Lucas and Faiza Shaheen discuss what is ‘the flip’, what they would like to see flip, how to make good flips stick, what the dangers are and what happens next. About 45 minutes.

Coronavirus epidemic

Please note that, as you would expect, we are not able to meet in person during the current lockdown conditions.

Planning is still going ahead online.  Contact us if you would like to participate.

Conversation Evening: Eco-friendly gardening in a time of climate change

This winter our Conversation Evenings are on the theme of climate change.

We are meeting at 8 pm on Monday 24 February at Cox’s Close Community Centre, CB22 5SP Stapleford.  Come along and share your thoughts about protecting soils and encouraging wildlife in your garden;  and tips on plants to grow in a potentially hotter and drier climate.  A friendly discussion over a hot drink (did someone say something about cake?)

Conversation Evening: Are natural disasters our fault?

This winter the theme for our Conversation Evenings is climate change.  In October we heard from a representative of South Cambs on their plans to cut carbon, and in early December had a discussion about divestment from fossil fuels – maybe not the no-brainer you might think.

On Monday 20 February about 30 of us gathered in the Three Horseshoes to hear Bob White, a resident of Mingle Lane who is Professor of Geophysics at Cambridge University, introduce the topic of how climate change exacerbates natural disasters.  Floods and droughts fairly obviously; but he also showed that volcanoes and even earthquakes are linked to the changing climate, often because of changing pressure on the earth when ice melts.  A lively discussion followed.

Our next Conversation Evening will be on the theme ‘Eco-friendly gardening in a time of climate change’ and will be at the Cox’s Close Community Centre, Stapleford, at 8 pm on Monday 24 February.  All welcome.

From Mince Pies to Birds of Paradise: a Conversation about Palm Oil

This was the first of our Conversation Evenings, held at The Rose, Stapleford, on 8 January 2019.  There was a good turn-out on a winter’s evening to hear Janet O’Boyle introduce the subject before opening up a more general conversation.

Summary:

Production and uses

The main producers are Indonesia and Malaysia. Oil palm is a very productive, cheap and land efficient crop, grown on large plantations and also by smallholders. The main uses in the UK are in processed food, cosmetics and cleaning products.

Problems

  • Global warming: deforestation, burning, and peat degradation contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s entire transport sector and makes Indonesia the 3rd largest carbon emitter in the world.
  • Air pollution: burning causes air pollution, such as the 2015 smog disaster across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Most big companies have stopped burning now but smallholders still do.
  • Human rights abuses: including forceful removal of indigenous forest people; child labour; and exploitative working conditions.
  • Loss of biodiversity: destruction of tropical rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations.
  • Loss of other benefits provided by the forest: use for food, as a water reservoir, and as protection against landslides and floods.

Food

Food ingredients have to be labelled, now including palm oil, so it’s easier to know what you’re getting. Sometimes the label says “sustainable palm oil”. Can we assume it isn’t if it doesn’t?

Cosmetics/ingredients

Chemistry degree required!

“Palmate” on eg soap means derived from palm oil, “cocoate” from coconut oil etc.

Many chemical ingredients can be derived from palm oil and there are websites offering long lists of ingredients that indicate palm oil. But these could also be derived from coconut or other oils or petrochemicals, eg “palmitate” is a fatty acid found in coconut, olive and other oils as well as palm oil.

“Palm-oil free” may just mean that palm oil is not used as a whole ingredient.

Alternatives

Coconut oil requires 7 x as much land for the same yield as palm oil. Soya oil production is already contributing to habitat destruction in Brazil and Argentina. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) argues that these alternatives would contribute to even more biodiversity losses than palm oil.

Butter, containing no palm oil, has twice the global warming impact of margarine, which generally does contain palm oil.

Sustainable Palm Oil

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is made up of palm oil producers and buyers and environmental organisations like WWF. It produced a set of environmental and social criteria that must be complied with to label oil as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. From November 2018 these include no deforestation, no burning, and some protection for human rights.

Currently 25% of palm oil is certified as sustainable. The market for it is limited, so some is sold as non-sustainable.

Conclusion?

Should we be demanding more genuinely sustainable palm oil to encourage change rather than boycotting it all together? If we avoid all palm oil we reduce the drive for better sustainability. Iceland’s attempt to avoid palm oil in its own brand products proved unachievable. But Greenpeace’s campaign has led one of the biggest palm oil traders to monitor its suppliers and suspend any caught clearing rainforest.