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Oh, Baby

Thinking of a present for a youngster?

We trust we are not the only ones who have had the experience of saying something in a crowded room and being met at best with a stunned silence, at worst, with a collective dropping of jaws.

Though sometimes when we dare to speak out, we see nods and smiles of recognition.

Wonder what it will be today?

We're obviously not all in the same room now, so we can't see you reaction.

When it comes to encouraging a greener lifestyle we are often trying to change people's habits and we all know how ingrained habits can be, how sometimes we do things just because that is the way we were brought up to do things, or because we think it is what everyone does.

But sometimes something comes along that makes us change our habits. It can be something nice and easy like recycling. Can you imagine now chucking all your rubbish into one bin for the council to collect?

The Household Waste Recycling Act, that meant everyone could easily recycle at home, received Royal Assent on 30th October 2003.

Eleven years later Scotland passed a law requiring all retailers to charge a minimum of 5p for every new single-use carrier bag.

One things led to another and now we are getting to grips with the thorny issue of single-use plastic. With a few exemptions, single-use plastic items are banned in Scotland, so no more cutlery, plates, stirrers and cups littering our streets or festering in landfill.

What’s next?

The Scottish Government has promised a ban on disposable vapes. It is also looking at disposal options, improved product design or publicity campaigns.

Disposable vapes are marketed as “beginner friendly” and can last for around 600 puffs. Because they contain valuable materials such as lithium batteries and copper, as well as plastic, vapes are classed as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and users are supposed to dispose of them at a household recycling centre or at the shop where they bought the device.

Currently large shops must take back all items of small electronic products like disposable vapes in store to be recycled for free, regardless of whether the item was bought in that shop or not. Smaller retailers are legally obliged to finance the take back, collection and treatment of these products when they become waste.

We don’t think this is actually what is happening.

Laura Young, aka Less Waste Laura, recently picked up about one device per minute in an hour-long walk near her home in Dundee.

As we can see, change is coming and a lot of thought goes into how best to persuade or help people to make that change. Sometimes legislation is required, but sometimes it is a case of us putting an idea into your head, planting a little seed and seeing what happens.

Some seeds lie dormant for a while, others flourish in no time.

Today's little seed challenges our cultural assumptions and questions whether things should continue to be done the way they have always been done.

Perhaps you will jump on today's idea and give a big YES!! Maybe it's something that you have been mulling over already. Maybe it's something you are not ready to embrace yet. Sometimes we need to be patient and see change happening over a long time.

Is it time just to get on with it and give you our idea?

Today, we want to think about babies.

And, let's be clear, we are welcoming them, whether it is a new addition to your family, your close friend's baby or just the thrill of seeing a little newborn in the street.

But when you visit a new baby at home, what do you see? One tiny baby, and a house full of – well - stuff!

Of course, there are essentials, we are not suggesting you put your baby to sleep in a cardboard box. We are lucky that for the most part we can provide our babies with everything they need, but we are sticking our neck out and challenging the culture of buying so much.

Not just the parents, all of us.

Of course we all get excited, the parents-to-be, the prospective grandparents, aunts, uncles and significant people in the little one's life, but in our previous life as the Gate Church Carbon Saving Project, we saw with our own eyes the volume of baby goods that came into our Give Boxes, much of it barely used and some of it clearly never used at all.

We want to celebrate these new arrivals, but how best to do that? How can we do it in a way that does not jeopardise the very planet the baby is going to grow up on? Can it really be right to give newborns things that will be thrown away before long and will be poisoning their environment throughout not only their lives, but their children's and their children's children's lives?

So what we are saying is this.

Please be excited about any new babies that come into your life. Please continue to shower your love on all the children you know, but please bear in mind that that doesn't necessarily mean always buying new things for them.

If you want to give something memorable, why not make something? It would be a very brave person who tried to take away our knitting needles when there's a new baby on its way to join our family.

There's also something very special about handing on a cherished item that has been previously used by a member of your own family. You are passing on memories and love. We are lucky enough to have a crib that has now been in our family for over 40 years and is about to welcome its 16th baby.

Of course, we were never going to finish today without reminding you that second hand never means second best. On the contrary, it means that that you are extending the life of something, with all the carbon saving that implies - the energy used to make the article in the first place, as well as the energy that would be used to make something new, and quite possibly, the energy used to dispose of it. So, not only are you giving something that is beautiful and useful, you are helping to ensure that the new baby has a lovely clean environment to grow up in. You're also setting a good example, putting your money where your mouth is, which may in turn lead to the parents and the child themselves getting into good, green habits.

And remember, it's not a competition, to see who gives the best present!

What is the best present you can give? How about a safe, healthy world to grow up in with fresh air, clean water and no pollution.


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