Sunday, 05 December 2021

We have power to make change

I WATCHED a Henley Rotary Club webinar last week on biodiversity.

Dr David Obura, a leading climate scientist, made particular reference to a coral reef off the coast of Kenya and how important it is through its biodiversity in sustaining a local community.

He said that half of the global economy is dependent on ecosystems/biodiversity.

In England he thought our woods and hedgerows particularly important. For Henley, I would add the river, which is a major draw for tourism to the town, as well as our beautiful countryside.

So why do we allow it to be used as a rubbish dump? Why do we not look after our hedgerows properly and consider the biodiversity that feed on the seeds and berries before they are hacked off with petrol-driven power tools?

Hats off to Warriors on Waste and Go with the Flo for clearing up the litter on the Wargrave stretch of the river for Great Big Green Week.

One of the brilliant things about Henley’s week was meeting representatives of different groups and finding out what they do.

In both the events that Greener Henley hosted in Market Place, we were pleased that so many local organisations are like-minded.

A prime example is the Rotary club’s End Plastic Soup campaign to try to halt the tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans (and eventually in our food chain).

If you are interested, the club recorded a very good webinar on this campaign, which is well worth watching. Their stall had lots of examples of plastic-free household items which are now readily available.

Consumers have enormous power, so if you cannot find alternatives to plastic goods (washing up sponges, toothbrushes etc.), then we should be asking the supermarkets and other shops to stock them.

Actually, you can get quite a few alternatives to plastic in many of our shops in Henley but they are not always obvious.

If you are fed up with the plastic packaging that can’t be recycled, you have a choice — either don’t buy that product or write to or ask your retailer to communicate your views to their supplier.

Every company, manufacturer and business knows that they have to reduce their carbon footprint and the consumer can help them do it faster.

It is just a few weeks until world leaders, scientists and advisers come together in Glasgow for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26).

Henley Quakers had a stall at the Big Bazaar, encouraging people to send a postcard to Alok Sharma MP, the president of COP26, asking the Government to lead the way in getting urgent international action.

If you didn’t get a chance to post a card and feel passionately about the decisions being made at the conference, it’s not too late to drop him a line by email or post to the Houses of Parliament.

Greener Henley would like to thank all the people who made Henley’s Great Big Green Week so “Great” — both those who helped and those who took part in the events.

We had a very positive response from all sectors of the town and surrounding villages. From pre-schoolers to our seniors in care homes, from businesses to charities, you all played your part in making the week special.

We were especially pleased that the Regal Picturehouse Cinema was prompted by the message of Green Week to look at its own practices. As a result, it has either put into place, or is planning to this year, make eight changes to do with its waste, cups and containers.

Congratulations to the staff there, a shining example to other businesses in the town.

Finally, I would like to thank the 44 local businesses that took part in the vanishing species treasure hunt. Some of the window displays were very attractive and thought-provoking.

Even if you didn’t manage to do the whole trail, I hope some of you enjoyed looking at them and searching out the pictures of endangered species hidden in the display.

It was also great to see that so many shops are seriously thinking about the products they sell and their impact on the environment.

In a way, they are the trailblazers in the town — the day will come when locally manufactured, sustainable and recycled goods will be the only products for sale as more and more people come to terms with the impact of climate change.

Diana Barnett

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