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Sarah Green: Personal sustainable consumption and changing behaviors of friends

10 December 2015 – A few things have happened recently: 1) I spent 5 days with top young leaders of ASEAN in Malaysia who are doing incredible things to change the world; 2) I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and 3) COP21 in Paris took place.

Sarah GreenWhat do all of these things have in common? They really made me question my personal beliefs about consumption and sustainability. After the last workshop in Cambridge, we learned that one of the most impactful things that an individual can do to have an impact on climate change is reduce the consumption of meat, particularly of red meat. Since then, my fiance and I have completely stopped eating beef. This has given us the chance to not only have an individual impact on climate change, but it’s also given us the opportunity to share why we aren’t eating beef with our friends and family who share meals with us.

This has sparked a lot of conversations (some affirming, some challenging). One result that’s come about is realising, sadly, that some of our closest friends are extremely ignorant when it comes to climate change and environmental sustainability. I find these the toughest conversations to have because they are completely irrational. When I posted about my experience on Facebook, one friend even said, “I’ll keep my red meat. I love it too much”. Lots of “I’s” in that statement… it’s extremely hard to change someone’s behaviour, whether you know them or you don’t. I’m afraid that it will take a massive incident to start to convince some people to make sacrifices (large or small) in their personal consumption.

In reading about COP21 and facing these personal experiences, I came across a NYTimes article, “What You Can Do About Climate Change” that highlights 7 things individuals can do to make an impact on climate change. Not surprisingly, not eating beef, is #1. Here’s the full list:

  1. You’re better off eating vegetables from Argentina than red meat from a local farm.
  2. Take the bus (if you can)
  3. Eat everything in your refrigerator (reduce food waste)
  4. Flying is bad, but driving can be worse
  5. Cats and dogs are not the problem
  6. Replace your gas guzzler if you want, but don’t buy a second car
  7. Buy less stuff, waste less stuff

The only one that surprised me on this list was #5 – I had no idea cats and dogs were even thought to be a problem in the first place! Glad to know that they’re not. While all of these items were, to me, “duh” statements… it is important to be reminded of them, and reminded of them often.



17 January 2018, 16.00-17.00

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2018 intake workshop dates

Workshop 1: 16–22 September 2018 
Workshop 2: 31 March–6 April 2019
Workshop 3: 1–7 September 2019   
Workshop 4: 29 March–4 April 2020

2017 intake Workshop dates

Workshop 1: 2–8 September 2017
Workshop 2: 8–14 April 2018
Workshop 3: 2–8 September 2018   
Workshop 4: 31 March–6 April 2019

2016 intake Workshop dates

Workshop 1: 18–24 September 2016
Workshop 2: 26 March–1 April 2017
Workshop 3: 30 July–5 August 2017
Workshop 4: 8–14 April 2018