In his latest blog Sean looks at how focussing on small items might be important in tackling climate change
At a recent conference, delegates were discussing the future of the planet and the actions individuals and businesses could take to make a significant impact on climate change.
Ideas ranged from giving up on fossil fuels entirely to energy efficiency and a switch to electric only cars. This latter idea coming hot on the (w)heels of a Government announcement that new petrol and diesel cars ‘could’ be phased out from 2035.
This sort of grand headline-grabbing initiative – though weakened by the use of the word could – is a hallmark of governments wanting to make their mark and be noticed. Interestingly, one of the next government announcements was about a proposed bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland, to encourage cars to drive between the two.
But in many ways, the seriousness by which we should judge the action of businesses in relation to big issues like climate change is probably not by grand gestures or announcements, nor fundraising to help species affected by the Australian bushfires, but rather by buttons.
Yes, you read that right, buttons. Hundreds of factories in Qiaotou in China produce more than 60% of all buttons and with one factory reportedly making between 2 and 3 million buttons a day, that’s a hell of a lot of buttons.
Buttons have been the main way of doing up clothes for decades now, which means there have been billions of buttons made, usually from one plastic or another.
Clearly, the world doesn’t need any more buttons as almost all of those manufactured over the years are still in existence – as we know plastics are very persistent.
So why are buttons not stripped from used clothing and re-entered into the manufacturing process? Well, it’s obviously the economics (stupid) but the current system is not ecologically sustainable.
Next time you buy a new shirt or skirt with multiple buttons, think about all the millions that are either in landfill around you or that have ended their days in incinerators. What a waste!
The cynic in me feels that until we grasp the small things – like buttons – and find a way to seriously cut down on the numbers we need each year, we are not going to address climate change in the way we need to.
Who fancies setting up a button reuse and recycling company?