The relentless stream of bad news about the climate, habitat-loss and plastic mountains is tough to take. It’s difficult sometimes even to watch David Attenborough. And I’m not alone – climate anxiety is becoming a widespread problem. and most experts agree at the answer is to focus on positive action on the things that you can control.
But what could I do? I don’t want to be an eco-warrior, I’m not that keen on the idea of chaining myself to a tree, or being arrested.
Then I heard a story. This version was adapted by Peter Straube from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
Source: Events for Change
And so the idea for Sustainable Silchester grew. I can’t solve all the planets problems, but small actions can help. And if enough people take small actions, then that will make a difference. For example, the carbon footprint of Silchester is about 8,750 tCO2e each year. If we could cut that by just 10%, we would save 875 tCO2e each year. On it’s own, that is not going to save the planet, but if every town and village in England saved 875 tCO2e each year, that would be 42 million tCO2e. And that would make a noticeable difference in helping the UK meet net zero by 2050.
Everyone that I have spoken too has been very enthusiastic about the initiative. And it helps. Now when I watch David Attenborough, I still can’t solve all the world’s problems. But I can be part of the solution.