Make Black Friday green by doing just one thing for the environment

Green Light Trust chief executive Tom Brown

Green Light Trust chief executive Tom Brown - Credit: Green Light Trust

The environmental juggernaut has left Glasgow and COP26 is over until it reconvenes in the land of the pharaohs next year.  

The politicians have talked the talk; some of them have even walked the walk. 

Last minute double dealing meant that a hugely desirable protocol on coal was watered down so that it was no longer a firm commitment – self-interest prevailed. It is debatable whether the COP26 talking shop will deliver what is needed. 

While it did not do enough to protect the planet from temperatures exceeding 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, it may have slightly cooled the projected outcome and delivered a more frequent means of challenging failure. The talking must just stop and stop now, unless we are truly going to allow the generation most affected by the projected climate changes to be truly heard.

Even if everything aspired to for COP26 had been agreed, agreement in itself would not have been enough. We cannot leave it to someone else to sort out the mess that we have got ourselves into.

As an organisation working daily in our beautiful woodlands across Suffolk and Norfolk, we can already see the impact of climate change on our trees.

Stress created by warmer, drier summers has, in my opinion, already dramatically increased the disease and death of our treasured trees.  Each hectare of our native woodland captures over four hundred tonnes of carbon.  

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This natural environment supports a range of interdependent flora and fauna.  Since the early 1970s, we have lost over 13% of our native species in England.  So, planting trees and conserving our stunning natural woodland will help to address the challenges of the climate emergency.  That is only part of the story. 

The Green Light Trust is about conservation and woodland management – all true.  It’s greatest value and contribution, however, is about using nature for the renewal of people. We support over 2,000 individuals across Suffolk and Norfolk who are faced with a range of challenges.  

From poor mental health and wellbeing; recovery from substance addiction; the consequences of long-term unemployment through to escaping from abusive relationships. Aged from 4 to 84, our participants spend their time in the woods which provides them with a safe space in which to start on their recovery journey.  

We believe in ‘Green Care’, using the environment of our stunning native woodlands to rebuild, awaken & refocus individuals. An 8-week programme of meaningful and purposeful activities from tree planting and conservation; learning new skills from woodwork to healthy eating allows participants week by week to put their own lives back on track.

The impact of nature and woodland on our mental health and wellbeing has long been known about and is backed up by rigorous academic research.  

I am sure that, through the deepest, darkest days of lockdown most of us appreciated our one hour of exercise a day. Going out and experiencing the healing power of nature comes naturally to most of us. Unfortunately, that is not true for all.  The participants that we support fall within the lowest 5% in terms of their wellbeing and the lowest 30% in terms of socio-economic background and from a variety of ethnic and minority groups. 

According to Public Health England, £2.1billion would be saved each year by the NHS and other public services if everyone in England had access to green space and nature.   This inequality really matters.

What can you do?

Each of us can make small changes that will incrementally help save our planet.  Like checking where our fruit and vegetables have come from.  

East Anglian strawberries in season are simply the best, but summer berries flown in from the southern hemisphere not quite so good.  

Looking at where we eat from is the first stage but changing what we eat might be the better option for both our health and that of the planet.  While the ideal is potentially veganism, less red meat is a great start and there are many small things that we can do to find food that does less damage on its way to our plate.

I now only eat meat two days of the week. These changes don’t have to be extreme, either-or decisions, do what you think is achievable. Not filling the kettle with more water than you need burns less electricity and doesn’t waste water. Turn the tap off when we brush our teeth, but we all know this don’t we? But do we do it?  We are the change that is required.

black friday green friday

The Green Light Trust is urging people to swap Black Friday for Green Friday - Credit: Green Light Trust

Join our Campaign Swap #BlackFriday for #GreenFriday

The relationship between our woods and people is a symbiotic one.  Like the fungi that litter the woodland floor in the autumn sunshine, that wouldn’t thrive without the roots of the trees, and vice versa, our planet and people need one another now more than ever to survive. 

Instead of searching around for a bargain this year on Black Friday, why not make it a Green Friday? Do something to save the planet. If everyone makes one small change to green up the environment it will make a difference.  

In the first instance take a selfie of you making one small change that will help green up the environment and share on our Facebook at Green Light Trust, or on our Instagram page using the hashtags swap  #BlackFriday for #GreenFriday.  Alternatively make a difference by donating to The Green Light Trust.  

£10 will help Green Light Trust to cook two participants a hot meal when they attend one of our courses – this might be the only hot meal they eat that week.  £50 will fund a full session for a participant to attend a day in the woods with us.  £100 will mean that we can plant ten trees on your behalf and £500 pays for one participant who potentially is in a very dark place to access our courses for an entire programme.    Please donate to www.greenlighttrust.org/appeal/donate  


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