Friday, October 18, 2019

Blog 1 - Ice, Comedians, You.... and Hello.

Blog 1
So, finally, the doors are open and many of you have already visited the shop. Thank you all for getting the Sustainable Weigh off to such a positive, flying start.
Now that we’re up and running (although with loads still to do!), our thoughts are turning to the other part of our ambitions for the Sustainable Weigh/Siop y Glorian. This blog is part of that. And where else to start the life of the SustainaBlog but on the 5th October 1893…
Far beyond the reach of daily life, in the frozen wilderness of the Arctic north, a wooden ship by the name of Fram was preparing for winter. She had left Norway that June, specifically designed and built for an expedition headed by Fridtjof Nansen, who’s aim was to be the first man to reach the North Pole. His plan to do so was contemptuous of contemporary thinking on the subject. Instead of fighting the polar conditions, Nansen sought to capitalise on an insight gleaned from his scientific work and use the ocean currents and pack ice movements as tools to help him reach a new furthest north. Instead of avoiding ice for as long as possible, Nansen would seek it out, pick his moment and then confounding all logic, deliberately get his ship trapped for the winter. Once locked in place, he would rely on the ocean currents to carry the helpless Fram, over the North Pole.
It was an audacious plan. No one else considered deliberately wintering trapped in the frozen north to be a good idea. Nansen, bought up on long solo trips cross country skiing, immersed in the spectacular natural wonders of the Norwegian countryside, understood instinctively that his best chance of success lay in working with nature rather than against it.
So it was that on the 5th October, the rudder of the Fram was shipped aboard and the vessel and her crew were committed to the mercy of the ice for however long it took. The pessimists suggested they might be trapped for 3 years. The end result of that long drift was a new Furthest North record. The Fram, specially built with curved, strengthened sides survived and lives on in a museum to this day. The lessons were clear. Nature could be harnessed rather than fought.
By now the moral of this tale and its link to the subject of Sustainability should be clear. It should be possible to work with our planet, not in rapacious opposition to it.
That is the basis upon which we’ve created the Sustainable Weigh. We’re not a total solution and we don’t have all the answers. We don’t know everything and we’re very confident that we’ll make mistakes. But we do know we have to try and do something. So, we’re going to seek to offer an alternative to consumption as usual. Using our definition of Sustainability as a guide, we’ll look to sell products which can help make a positive impact on reducing food waste and packaging use, find more meat and dairy free alternatives and support schemes such as Fairtrade.
There is a well known quote from the American actor and comedian, Robin Williams which you’ll find in our shop and on our website. He famously said that “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world”. We want to take that thought and help people change their worlds just a little bit at a time in a way that adds up to something meaningful and impactful. There is much in the world that needs changing on a systemic level but there is also much that is in our hands. We can make changes that have an impact.
As we’ve worked on developing the ideas that have become the Sustainable Weigh over the past year, it has become clear that as much as we are a shop, here to sell things to people, our role can’t end there. We need to be part of the conversation on what our future looks like. We need to be a source of information and ideas. We need to be knowledgeable and authentic in what we’re saying to our customers. This blog is part of that. Part of the need to share ideas in the hope they change the world a little faster. Part of the wider ambition.
And there is a dramatic need to move faster. Every week there is news showing how humanity’s impact on the planet is driving climate change, species extinction and resource depletion. The time for action is now. To return to where we started this blog, far in the artic north. If someone wanted to recreate Nansen’s frozen polar drift of 120 odd years ago, they couldn’t. The ice no longer exists.
We all need to be part of the change that stops more damage being done and even more being lost to future generations. And it’s that need for change that brings us to the final part of our trilogy of subjects for today. You.
You can make a difference. Small changes do add up to something meaningful. And because of that, plus the power of ideas, we look forward to seeing you in the shop, changing your world one plastic bottle and refilled pot at a time.