The answer may surprise you.
he answer is more complex than it seems
It surprises people when we say this, but the answer is “No” and the reason for this is, these protests with their disruption at their core is counterproductive, unrealistic, naive and disengages the very people they are hoping to engage while taking the debate away from very real environmental issues the world faces.
We are strong supporters of democratic protests and in the main (when we say democratic we don't include extremely disruptive and property damage protests as democratic protests ) we agree with the message, just not the delivery.
When we look at protests by organisations like Just Stop Oil we should be 100% behind these organisations, as we agree with their intent, it's just they are looking at the problem from the wrong perspective.
Let's put it this way, could we ban all oil extraction today, well no and it shows a naivety that is awe inspiring, it would collapse the world economies ( and reduce the potential for industry to create solutions) and send us back centuries.
It also shows a misunderstanding of the problem, the problem isn't the material (petrol) it's what it is used for.
It also shows a lack of understanding of how integrated petroleum is in all aspects of the world, let's not forget that plastics come from petrol, I hear you saying “ but surely The Pure Option is opposed to plastics?” , well the answer is also no as plastics are amazing, they have changed the world for the better, it's back to the material not being the problem, it's what it is used for is the issue.
Let's look at your car dashboard as an example , making it from plastics is cheaper and reduces the car weight which actually benefits the carbon efficiency of the car, so plastic is great, so as a material it's amazing but it's just not great for single use items, so plastic isn't the problem, usage is.
We know these protests are in the main ( once again we are excluding the vandals who do so much damage to the message) well meaning but the lack of a wider understanding is flawed.
It's actually destructive as it's taking the conversation away from the real issue, if we can use plant based materials that make a huge environmental positive why are we using fossil fuels when plants are better? (Spoiler alert Petrol is cheaper).
Its also causes obsessive debate about the problem as it's always framed as all problem and no solution ( everyone forgets to talk about the solution).
Put simply the message is always negative, it is always about misunderstanding the problem and it is stopping people from talking about the solutions that exist, companies including our own are solving a number of these issues, but the message is always downbeat.
Talking about the solutions and campaigning for their wide spread usage is easily achievable , we can all fix this, if your local coffee shop uses plastic lined cups and you tell them you won't buy a coffee unless they move to a plant based alternative, how long before no one is using plastic lined cups, giving people the full story is a real driver for change and achieves so much more than damaging a car dealership.
The problem is these well meaning people are being driven to taking the worst possible options as they just aren't empowered with the solutions, only the problems.
Organisations like Just Stop Oil and their misunderstanding of the problem are certainly not making things better ( how much co2 is being pumped out when cars are blocked at roads?) but these organisations are being run by people being fed a diet of the following news articles, so who can blame them for not really grasping the solution led approach to the climate.
“So what these all have in common?”
Yup it's all problem and not solution, it's all barrier “don’t ”(problem) with no mention of the “do” (solution).
We recently talked to Raise Them Well about the very real and growing problem of climate anxiety as people feel more and more powerless , we are creating very real debilitating anxiety, for our we are future generations, but without giving solutions, why wouldn't you worry, it's all problem without solution, we just aren't wired to deal with problems without a solution.
Let’s look again at petrol, which seems to be a common reason for protest , do we need petrol, yes at this stage in time we do, but it's a legacy material on it's way out, in fact BP for example has already worked this out as it goes down a new route ( well done BP)
Will we always need petrol well the answer is no and it's a diminishing material, as we move to electric cars and plant based packaging we move away from petrol.
Petrol is on it's way out as output volumes are going down and if we all talked about the solutions , we could speed this up considerably.
While these protests obsess about petrol , they take the debate away from “why are using petrol and other fossil fuels, when we can use plants?"
Let's talk about about when to use petrol and when we should stop using petrol as better options exist ( they are here now and more are on the way).
It’s not a stop petrol, it’s more about sensible usage of fossil fuels and disruptive protest doesn’t change this debate, in fact it stops the real debate.
Let's look at End UK Private Jets ( an organisation doing it's best to turn everyone against them).
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) figures show 2.52kg of carbon dioxide is emitted for every litre of aviation turbine fuel burned. therefore, a standard flight of 1500 miles produces 5.9 tonnes of CO2 but if we compare this to a civil jet, the figures work out a quarter of a tonne each, all true and on the surface something to be concerned about.
The problem with this argument is the effects of carbon emissions from private jets reduces over time ( as petrol use will do) as engine technology exists to a point where it really isn’t a big issue, and it also forces you to look at a very small environmental issue and takes the attention aware from the very real issue environmental issues caused by things like peat extraction for horticulture ( how many people are aware of this huge issue, not many we speak too).
Peat is nature’s natural carbon sponge, and it is commonly extracted for things like grow bags and yet this is a real problem that none of these groups are protesting about or seem aware of ( Where is Just Stop Peat Extraction , I guess it isn't exciting enough).
The simple fact is, sadly the big environmental issues are being ignored and yet the solution, is so easily fixed.
Every time you throw food away you are actually helping the environment ( I know someone is going to say that you shouldn't be throwing food away but it happens so why shouldn't it add positively to the environment) it can easily be used to replace peat, a big problem solved with a simple barrier free solution.
If your wondering what is with our obsession, simply put from 1990 to 2022 the UK released 31 million tonnes of Co2 and this figure gets worse each time we extract peat, as their carbon sequestration is lost, which further aggravates the problem, the more we extract the less carbon absorbed and the more released, it's that much of a problem.
Each year in the UK alone we are releasing 880,000 tonnes of carbon which is the same as driving a standard car to the moon 4600, and yet no one is blocking roads to stop peat extraction.
We would like to see a sensible debate on real problems with real solutions, let's engage and not disengage people
Let's talk about the problem but let's add the solutions and the ways that people can be the driver of change and we want to do this without driving people away from discussing and solving the worlds environmental problems.
Does throwing paint over a Bentley showroom solve anything , change habits or drive innovation, no it just drives the people away from the issue.
This reminds me of three of our favourite office sayings.
“Solutions not problems”.
“Engage not disengage”.
“ Hope not hopelessness”.
Let’s not forget if we empower people with solutions this will drive businesses to find more solutions, business is the real driver of change but so is consumer habit, force change through your wallet and not vandalism.
The sad thing is the consumer has real power, they just aren’t aware of, as they only have the problem and not the solution.
The Bit about Us
When we started we had the mission to end single use plastics and we still hold this mission, the only thing that changes is we are driving the change through solutions, we can't beat the plastic industry so we know try and debate with them about the opportunity of plant based materials and it's working , we are being a driver of change.
As always, if you would like to add to this debate or have questions, please get in touch and if you support one of these groups please feel free to discuss your opinions below.
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