Local Food Economy
New Year’s resolutions: connecting Bristol
By Kate Burgess
Kate Burgess recently joined the Going for Gold team, alongside her work for Shambala Festival, CIC Woodland Tribe and in artist booking. She cares passionately about sustainability and regeneration. In this blog post, she explains how she believes that pledging #GoingForGoldBristol actions this New Year makes for sustainable resolution-making in every sense of the word.
I always balk a bit at the idea of taking up a New Year’s resolution. For something that serves for mass self-development and growth or as an altruistic kick starter, it can create a lot of guilt and comparison – hardly a positive bedrock for the “new you”! I think this is because, as with anything parading on social media and proliferating in think pieces, it’s always framed as the individual’s work or duty. I am always sceptical of the Medias telling us to turn in on ourselves. You see it with corporate green-washing from oil giants telling you, ‘you must do your bit’ to tackle climate change. It is concerted re-direction of responsibility and is a distraction from the fact that change really happens from individuals pulling together, collectively.
Resolutions are broken so easily because we are often asked to do our personal growing alone drawing on our own resources of will power and self-motivation. How do we give our resolutions real resolve and protect ourselves from burnout?
Self-improvement should cast its net outwards. Resolving to make changes that connect to others and works towards something bigger is a really important way to create sustainable change in January and beyond. This is what I’ve found so empowering about the Going For Gold campaign, with its resources for sustainable, achievable actions that Bristolians can do to live more sustainably, for our own health, the city’s and the planet.
I’ve definitely been susceptible to the eco-anxiety that makes one take the weight of climate crisis and future food precarity on one’s shoulders. This feeling makes every effort to recycle more there, choose local here, seem like it’s never enough. Connecting these little actions to a wider movement that is specific, local and grounded in the city I love totally elevates that niggling sense that my efforts won’t register. I’d really encourage everyone in Bristol to get involved with Going For Gold, to contribute to a tangible sense of changing, if not the world, our city for the better. You’d be surprised how simple many of the actions are that will make Bristol a golden standard-bearer for food sustainability.
Here’s a list of things you can do, from the everyday to the big shift stuff, that will improve our city in areas of food equality and justice, waste, community, urban growing and health. It’s a big bonus that so many of these actions are about connecting with food, local growers and makers in creative (and often delicious) ways!
As we break for the holidays, take the opportunity to research charities, CICs and organisations near you that need some people power. Going For Gold have a resource for Bristol volunteer opportunities here, and Bristol Food Network have a pretty exhaustive list of food-related charities or groups, here. Before you sign up, clue up: How much time is expected of you? Can you create the space for that commitment? If distance is an obstacle for you, can you find something down the road that is easy and quick to get to? Put yourself in the best position to actually commit to volunteering in the New Year.
Find out more actions you can take around Community Action here.
Love Food Hate Waste estimate that four million Christmas meals go to waste over the holidays. The best way to tackle food waste is to plan ahead. Get into the habit of knowing what you have in before writing a shopping list. Planning just a few of your weekly meals in advance can save not only food waste, but time and money too. It’s not all about regiments. Getting creative with leftovers can be a brilliant way to learn new kitchen skills and be brave with cooking.
Find out more actions you can take around reducing Food Waste here.
Improving our city’s food system goes beyond what we’re putting in our mouths and how. Where our money is going impacts our food systems in direct and indirect ways. It can be hard to connect the dots between finance and our food system. As Triodos’ Riella Hollander argues, we need a global transition to a system that produces food in harmony with nature, and pays fair prices to farmers. This means putting pressure on financial institutions to innovate their investment criteria, divesting and re-investing in sustainable solutions in agriculture and food production.
As part of the #GoldForGoldBristol actions towards Food Equality we suggest that organisations invest and divest. Individuals can do this too, by moving your money to more ethical banks and putting pressure on them to divest.
Find out more actions you can take towards Food Equality here.
Ready yourself for 2020 and pledge to design useless and single-use plastic out of your life.
Planning out plastic can often mean you end up buying better, reducing waste and supporting local businesses too. A great way to ditch single-use is to split your shop across stores and grocers. Local greengrocers tend to have much more unwrapped veg than supermarkets, as do places like Zero Green and Scoopaway Health Foods. Signing up to a veg box can drastically cut down your plastic, and there are plenty of schemes in Bristol to choose from (see Bristol Food Networks round-up here).
As The Trussell Trust have revealed, this Christmas more people than ever are expected to need a food bank in the UK. In December last year, 186,185 three-day emergency food parcels were provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network to people in crisis. The average 23% increase in food bank use from 2018, means they will be put under more even strain.
If the trajectory of the past years have been anything to go by, there’s going to be increasing pressure on food banks beyond the holidays too. Donating money, supplies and/or your time to food banks near you is a way to contribute at the point of crisis. In the long-term, write to your newly elected MP asking them to end food poverty in the UK by ending the five-week wait for universal credit; ensuring benefit payments actually cover the cost of dignified living; and investing in local emergency support for those in crisis.
All of these straightforward actions can connect us as a city towards a shared goal that supports everybody’s right to food security and nourishment. That’s a New Year’s commitment I can totally subscribe to, and I encourage everyone to get stuck in and pledge for gold with me.
So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.
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