Sunday 18th June 10.30-12.30pm Free led Ride organised by TACC
Location: Vivary Park Bandstand
A gentle loop cycle ride of 11 miles. Taking in some of Taunton’s hidden cycle network and green wedges, we will be passing though scenic Bathpool via the canal towpath. Children under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you intend to come. http://www.tacc.space
Late feedback from the Happier People Healthier Planet conference in March….. How putting wellbeing first would help sustain life on Earth.
Introduction – Molly Scott Cato, MEP since May 2014 – mollymep.org.uk
Molly spoke briefly about the issue of companies’ failure to pay corporation tax, which undermines local businesses who do have to pay; also the recent subsidy to north sea oil, which encourages further drilling and cheaper motoring. She concluded that if you destroy our environment, you destroy wellbeing.
Wellbeing can be measured – when positive emotions outweigh negative ones.
Happiness is an emotion which comes and goes; wellbeing is when we are feeling good and functioning well.
Consumption – we all consume far more than we need above and beyond our basic needs for home, food, shelter etc.
However, non-material assets determine our level of wellbeing: relationships, sense of belonging, meaning, purpose, creativity, contact with the natural world.
Nature is highly beneficial: For example, it has been found that people recover quicker from surgery if they can see a tree from their hospital window. Also that psychiatric patients never damage pictures of nature, but would damage abstracts.
Appreciation and gratitude – It is good to notice things and count our blessings.
Some of the above need developing and learning:
Relationships – skills such as empathy, listening, humour, forbearance
Appreciation – to notice and have an attention span; this can be eroded by bombardment and distraction.
The art of making connections between ourselves and other people needs to be developed in us and our children.
Seen in high levels of credit card debt, large personal consumption of minerals, and of water.
Creation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Plastics end up as particulate matter in the ecosystem; they get into our bloodstream and can disrupt our endocrine function.
Signs of wellbeing
Wellbeing has been measured since the 1950’s and has not risen with increasing wealth. Today we see increasing levels of non-prescription drugs and drug related deaths. Loneliness causes physical and emotional damage. Surprisingly UK children have the lowest level of wellbeing of 21 industrialised countries. Notices about violence indicate high levels of violence to staff at work.
Focus on what is good for wellbeing, rather than on what we need to give up; can change our focus so what we do addresses our need for wellbeing. Our economic system seems to be set up to increase private wealth, but with it comes environmental damage.
Exercise in small groups – spending money
How to spend £10k without doing any damage to the environment.
This was hard – we all found that most money spent has a related damaging effect on the environment.
Could teach mindfulness, purchase a field, give training courses, buy bicycles, plant trees, buy antiques, buy works of art
How to spend £2k doing as much damaging environmental impact as you can…
Easier – fracking, use patio heaters outdoors, develop a coca cola advertising campaign, it’s easy to waste energy.
We found that most things we buy depletes earth’s resources, and requires energy, so we need to think about biodegradability, recycling, upcycling, transporting locally by hand or foot etc..
Why do we consume so much? (not all societies do)
Social status – having money and possessions gives social status; we need to find new ways of conferring this.
Consolation – retail therapy, when we feel lonely and rejected etc., we use stuff to replace emotions we don’t have. Measure love by money spent, instead of by time and attention given etc.
Capitalist economic system
Constant growth required, advertisers make us feel inadequate and exploit our weaknesses.
Evolutionary- Consumption might be beneficial for continuation of the species.
Feel good – A good feeling on taking possession
It would be good if more of us became more modest material consumers.
Research for book
Teresa undertook research with people who identified themselves as modest consumers and also felt satisfied with their lives. These 94 were then interviewed and asked a range of questions.
How did they define modest? – no or little flying; no car; turn down heating and wear more clothes (domestic heating is a big source of carbon use); no TV; used furniture only; no washing machine; clothes from charity shops; holiday in uk or with friends and family.
Reasons for adopting this lifestyle:
choice, financial reasons, environmental concerns, global inequality.
Many reported loving their new life style and being happier. Some liked to think about others’ needs, do voluntary work, yoga, reading, and valued time more than money. They wanted to be proactive, thoughtful about things, feel part of something bigger and make a difference, however small.
Comments from participants in research
Don’t want to buy silver and gold jewellery which has been obtained at such cost to lives.
Person who grew up in a rich American family studied energy, volunteered in Uganda and saw people living happily, not thinking about money, but interested in self and family, happier than in the western world.
Questions to Molly Scott-Cato before she left meeting
Amazon and tax evasion – what are alternatives.
Traffic pollution – urban smog, consequences of air pollution to health.
Renewable energy models such as Germany where there is a thriving market
Microbusinesses, more production, more wellbeing?
Peak Oil and Climate change
Strong locally, work with neighbour, change behaviour
Transport systems, work local to home
Quietly putting things into place, but most people don’t take things seriously until a disaster happens.
(Teresa Bolton) How to develop modest people? – genes or environment?
Values are developed through learning and interaction, experience is all important in determining how we live. Give children worthwhile experiences.
Change how we perceive social status, have lots of worthwhile experiences.
Have contact with the natural world, be creative and others will appreciate you.
(Unfortunately our education system seems geared to getting qualifications to make more money.)
Alternative Education– can rethink our education and priorities, to create happy people in a good society, thinking about the needs of others. Voluntary work – impacts on others, sense of contribution to the wider world. Forest schools – out in nature and being creative. Evaluation of these schools show children function better (nb wellbeing to do with functioning well, as well as feeling well).
Food and environmental damage
Permaculture – fantastic and can be applied to any situation. Important – people care, earth care, fair share. Repurposing – create no waste
Geoeconomics – Mark Hepworth, Birkbeck college
A research-based consultancy focused on social value creation as a strategic priority for businesses, governments and non-profit organisations
Teresa Belton’s book Happier People Healthier Planet is available in the following places:
It may be purchased directly from the author.
Please send a cheque or postal order for £13.95 (+ £3.00 for UK p&p) to Teresa Belton at School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ. Please enclose a name, email and delivery address.
For enquiries and payment by bank transfer please contact Teresa at email@example.com.