The lockdowns have given many of us time for reflection, time to consider our impact, and for some, even the time to do something about it!
We caught up with one of our regulars in the shop, Andy Jobson, who used the lockdowns to design and build a website (www.betch.org.uk) to bring all of the information together and, hopefully, to encourage others to enact some positive changes of their own.
Hey there, I’m Andy, Founder of BETCH (As in BE The CHange (see what I did there!)).
I’m also the Director of Marketing, HR, IT, PR and Content for BETCH, as well as head tea maker, but then, I have been furloughed for just over 12 months now, what else was I going to do?!?
Q. What is BETCH, and what inspired you to spend lockdown creating it?
A. I’ll start with what inspired me first. In short, it is a combination of:
1) The beauty of this planet, alongside;
2) Just how lucky we are to be here experiencing it (I mean, what are the chances, pretty slim I'd say).
The Beauty of this Planet
I find the whole thing incredibly beautiful: The intricacies of nature, the neatly woven ecological systems, the wealth of life out there in the natural world, it is all just awe-inspiring. Where we live, on this spinning rock in space, is really quite special. The greatest minds, alongside the greatest telescopes, can’t seem to find anything quite like it.
What are the Chances?
They say some Big Bang kicked things off a few years back, and by chance, this one rock ended up just the right distance from a star, not too hot and not too cold. As if that wasn’t fluky enough, it then went and developed an atmosphere that separated it from the hostilities of space … what are the chances!!
With it’s fancy new atmosphere and lovely weather, planet Earth was able to nurture the birth of life, again, I’m pretty sure the chances of life starting out in the first place was pretty slim, never mind that it then went on to evolve into the magnificent spectacle that it became.
Then there’s us, little old humans. In 2011 it was estimated that there is 8.7 million species on Earth. Yet of all those species, we’re the only one that have developed the intelligence to fully appreciate and understand the beauty and the rarity of this place. Now, we know the odds on that one, 8.7 million to 1.
Just to lower the tone a little here, but, during the reproduction process for us humans, obviously not every attempt is a baby maker, but on a successful occasion only one sperm makes it, c182,999,999 don't.
So, we can see the odds stacking up here. The chances of us being here, us being a part of this incredible place, being able to fully appreciate what we have, are getting slimmer and slimmer and slimmer. So when I see this planet breaking, I just can't believe it, it fills me to the brim with both sadness and motivation. This is something we could fix, but we're not.
What we have here needs to be protected. I’d watch an Attenborough documentary and I’d end up pulling my hypothetical hair out. I’d come away feeling so guilty, knowing I am a part of the problem.
I desperately wanted to figure out what I needed to do to become a part of the solution, but I couldn’t find the answers, or maybe it was that I found so many answers, in so many different places, that I ended up more confused than when I started looking.
So I figured, if there isn’t a place where all the answers are in one place, then there bloody well ought to be. So I made one … BETCH.
Q. How far have you got with your own aspirations to Be The Change?
A. I think this is a great question, because it’s prompted me to look back at where I started and just how far I have come.
When it comes to living more sustainably, there’s always more to do, and I get the guilts about all the things I’m not doing. I think, like many people, I’m desperate to do my bit and I beat myself up when I’m not doing everything. This can sometimes leave you feeling a little negative about the whole thing, but when you look back, and see how far you’ve come, the guilt makes way for a twinge of pride.
I’m a regular in Dan and Vi’s awesome shop now, meaning I’ve switched to a shed load of plastic free products. I’ve switched to a renewable energy supply at our house, I drive an Electric Vehicle powered at home from these renewables. As well as a hell of lot more changes.
It's the little things, like every time I recharge some double A's instead of buying more, looking around my house and seeing just how many second hand bits we have, these are the things that motivate me now.
I’d advise anyone to make a list of all the things they've done so far on their journey … I’m sure you’ll be proud too.
I guess, I only need to look on my BETCH dashboard (shameless plug) to see that with 13,880 points out of a possible 31,900, I can tell you I’m exactly 44% of the way into my journey.
Q. I want to save the world, where do you suggest I start?
A. This one is quick and easy. Seeing as though that’s exactly why I created it, I’d say get stuck into www.betch.org.uk , log in, browse the sustainable changes and start your journey. You’ll more than likely discover you’ve already started it.
Q. Tell me something that’ll make me think twice about buying plastic again!
A. Here's a few ...
The plastic toothbrush you polished your pearly whites with this morning won't decompose too quickly, meaning it could still be around 400 years time. You never know, your Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandchildren may well find this morning's toothbrush on a beach in the year 2421 ... what a treat!
7.7 billion plastic bottles of water are sold each year in the UK. If we lay these end to end, we could wrap them around the Earth 50 times! Only 56% of these are recycled, leaving approx. 9 million water bottles Every. Single. Day. that either head to landfill, get burned or end up in our environment, waterways and oceans.
Imagine wrapping the entire planet with clingfilm 30 times, that's how much clingfilm we get through in the UK, Every. Single. Year. It's really hard to recycle too, so the majority heads off to landfill where it can take hundreds of years to degrade.
We spend .... deep breath ... £8 billion a year on sandwiches in the UK! The impact seems even bigger when you see all the zeros ... £8,000,000,000! If we put all these together to make one big sandwich, it would be the size of Croatia! And that's just the Sandwiches! Their packaging is very hard to recycle as they're lined with plastic and are often soiled with food remnants.
Q. Do you know David Attenborough?
A. Absolutely!! I think we all 'know' Sir David. He's been such a staple in our lives for such a long time, opening our eyes to and connecting us with what's out there in the World. I'd like to think that at some point, BETCH and it's users will be making such a positive impact on the planet, that Sir David might just become a member himself - I reckon he would earn a 'Complete & Utter BETCH' badge!