The circus is coming to town! Don’t get too terrified kids, there’s no killer clowns living in sewers or elephants in top hats (though I think that kind of thing is illegal now). Nope, it’s a great big Climate Change circus, and it’s coming to Birmingham.
At this circus we have the bizarrely named ‘Strawberry Jam’ clown who, according to the website, “a cheeky, bright, bubbly, mishievious character” who performs magic with chickens and washing machines. Sounds a bit Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas to me. There are also various reggae bands and other acts, and to be fair, whilst I can sound all cynical, it sounds like a good idea for getting people environmentally aware whilst having a good time.
So, instead of laying into a family event, I’ve decided to lay into a different aspect of it, a so-called pledge scheme. The Birmingham Cutting C02 site offers people the chance to make a carbon cutting pledge, essentially a promise to do something environmentally friendly in order to help Birmingham cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2026. When you make the pledge, the site calculates what the pledge is worth in carbon emissions. Basically, you tell them what you want to do, they do the maths and you, in theory, keep the promise.
Okay, that’s great, there’s plenty of hypothetical situations I could apply to the site such as people not keeping their promises (of course, humanity has such a good track record of promise-keeping) but that would be picking just for the sake of picking. My problem lies with the amount of people who’ve actually engaged with the site. To date, there has been 66 pledges, with 21 members. Seeing as you have to sign up to the site to pledge, that means 21 Brummies have made pledges, some making multiple ones. That’s 21 people out of a potential 1,016,800. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a fundemental lack of engagement from the general populace of Birmingham.
And to be honest, I think this fundemental lack of engagement has been the theme of my blog from the start. From Recyclogeddon and it’s disappearing boxes leaving people disillusioned or plain disinterested in recycling, to the fabled Recycling Champions, presumably still operating as an underground sect as there is still little to no mention of them anywhere, Birmingham seems to lack engagement with recycling outside of placing waste in the boxes they’re told to.
Of course, recycling rates have actually gone up, so maybe just enforcing rules and telling people what to do is the way forward. Perhaps people don’t want to become a champion of recycling, banging on the nearest bass drum and screaming the recycling message at the top of their lungs like some deranged eco-warrior, and simply want to integrate recycling into their normal routines with as little fuss as possible. Perhaps people just want a recycling box to sort out their waste, and a simple way to get it replaced if some scallywag runs off with it. Perhaps we all just want a bit of normality.