One of the biggest challenges facing the environmental sector in recent years has been going ‘beyond green’ to reach the mass of people who are willing to be convinced, but can’t yet see past their misconceptions of an agenda associated with lentils, sandals and tree-hugging.
In 2014, I began developing the concept of “smart living” – a rebrand of one-planet systems thinking designed by Justin Woolford ( www.thechangeco.org ), aimed at the values based, conscious consumer.
A development website is now live: SMART-LIVING
- Smart Energy: A vision of a maximum efficiency, 100% renewably powered society. Solar and wind power, supported by marine & thermal energy, will be mainstream. District heating will be common place, and many homes & businesses will have reduced their energy needs to a fraction of current levels. Renewable energy storage systems will have replaced the need for a nuclear base load and fossil fuels will be a thing of the past.
- Smart Food: A vision for a food system that is fair to growers, sustainable for the soil and wherever possible, organic. We must make food growing & production visible across the city. We need to encourage healthy eating in schools, reduce the shocking amount of food that is wasted before and after the plate, and transform the procurement criteria for large organisations.
- Smart Money: We support a low carbon approach to the economic development – including jobs, innovation and enterprise, built development and renewable energy generation. Use local goods and services and nurture and celebrate the distinctiveness, diversity and heritage that make a place special. Love the future of money is the vision for fiscal policy that promotes social well-being and equality, and reduces harm to the ecosystem that supports us. Profit isn’t a dirty word, so long as its purpose is not making the problems worse.
- Smart Travel: A vision of an urban transport system that maximises the uses of human and renewable power and minimises the use of fossil fuels. It supports low carbon access including walking, cycling, efficient public transport, mobile/local service delivery. Choose to fly only when necessary, maybe for that infrequent luxury holiday rather than regular hops around Europe. Being smart about your travel choices can make you healthier too.
- Smart Homes: A vision for a built environment in which communities thrive. It will enable people living in cold and difficult to heat homes to secure affordable warmth. We need to double the current levels of low carbon retrofitting of domestic, public and commercial buildings by 2020. There are now a range of simple cost effective measures that can reduce your bills by 80% – from loft insulation to smart metering.
- Smart Nature: A vision for a bio-diverse world where species thrive, where pollution is eradicated and where our natural systems are able to regenerate. Protect and support our natural ‘life support systems’ – air, water, land and overall biodiversity. After all, we only have one planet which is the source of all life; we must be much smarter about the way we look after it.
- Smart Resources: A vision for a circular economy, where one persons waste is another persons resource. We must learn to use less; reduce our water use; use materials cleverly & sparingly, share, repair and re-use and in doing so, create less pollution in our environment.
- Smart Communities: Action must be hope led, rather than fear driven but acknowledges the scale of the challenges. Learn and share the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of sustainability. Lead the way and inspire others to follow. Support wider, more informed participation in local and global challenges. Involve all affected groups in decisions and developments. Take account of changes on the horizon – including climate change – and think in a joined up way to arrive at more resilient solutions for smarter living.
- Smart Health: Smart Health & Well-being is a vision for a more equal society, where health outcomes are potentially the same for everyone wherever they live. We must create healthy homes and workplaces; safe and green environments; and active, caring communities. We support NEF’s 5 ways to well-being – happiness isn’t about more stuff, it’s about family & friends and feeling part of your community. It is about giving and sharing, not taking and wasting. Putting our long-term personal interests at the top of the list means thinking differently about what makes us tick.
In partnership with freelance communicator and campaigner Harriet Kingaby, we then experimented with ‘smart living’ as part of the launch of a new company called “Love The Future” setting up a public display as part of Big Green Week 2016. The associated social media campaign was designed to bring to life every aspect of sustainable living, using visual examples to show rather than tell, and to invite participation to take positive steps, rather than preach about the perils of inaction.
We also asked some local school children what they thought: