I’m so glad that Damian Hall’s incredibly well researched and written book is about running. Pick up a copy of We can’t Run Away From This and sit smugly as you read. Because of course runners must have a far worse impact on the planet than walkers, climbers, paddlers or people on bikes, surely…
But hang on a minute. How different are our shoes to running shoes? Who doesn’t like a free T-shirt? Did you really need to buy a new base layer? How recyclable is your gear -really? Did you ever buy, or receive, a free plastic bottle of water? How do you travel? Do you think about what you eat? Have you ever considered taking action in support of our planet? Oh dear. This book covers all these questions and could have been titled we can’t run/walk/paddle/cycle/climb away from this I’m afraid.
This book is laden with well researched facts and figures. There is little doubt that over consumption is shortening the lifespan of the human population of Earth. And it is not fairly distributed.
Now, being a runner/walker/climber/paddler/cyclist etc is definitely bad for the planet, I’m sorry to tell you that. But, on the other hand however we are a group of people who do love this planet, we are potentially more malleable than some other groups of people. Could motor sport, pheasant shooting or even football ever produce a book like this one?
Our leaders are woefully out of touch. Our Prime Minister has made five pledges for 2023 – “to halve inflation; to grow the economy; to reduce debt; to cut hospital waiting lists; and to stop migrant crossings.”
This list made me angry and it should make you angry too. In 2022 40,000 people crossed the channel in small boats. Leeds United deal with his number of people every other Saturday afternoon. Instead of sending millions of pounds to France and Rwanda (three times more money was sent to these than was spent on our National Parks last year.) a welcoming and processing centre could easily be set up on the south coast. Similarly, providing care homes for those who are ready to leave hospital would not break the budget. Here in Wales it’s estimated that there are 1800 people blocking beds, that's about a school’s worth of people.
However, this is not supposed to be a political column, hard to avoid these days I know. My real point is that having read Damien Hall’s book there is one, very simple way to reduce our impact on the planet and it's something we can all do quite simply. It is not recycling. Recycling is a small, important, part of a big picture. We, quite simply, need to stop buying stuff. That’s it, that’s all you have to do…
I like buying stuff. There are studies that suggest the excitement from shopping is a major player in many people’s lives. Even shopping online is accompanied by a burst of excitement. We need to cut this down. Refuse should top trump reuse, recycle and repair. You’ll sometimes see it as reduce, reduce your consumption, but Damian asks us to simply refuse new stuff, refuse freebies, refuse packaging and refuse to follow fashion.
So, for 2023, think twice before you buy, buy stuff to last, buy colours that’ll match anything, wait 24 hours before clicking the buy button. Do your bit for the planet, buy less stuff.
I’m very pleased to say that I do have another book on the go at the moment. One I’m reading as slowly as I possibly can. 52 Ways to Walk by Annabel Streets is helping me to understand why walking/climbing/paddling/biking etc are so good for us. It’s simply written and links our feelings to science, it’s great. I’ll share some of it with you and try to apply the lessons as we go along. Currently I’m imagining how I might include dance in a walk!
Happy new year
Buy less stuff