You’ve all experienced it – strolling over to the airport bin, rubbish in hand – presented with the choice of recycling to the left or the faithful, accepting trash can to the right.

True, it’s a tough choice. You don’t want the embarrassment of having to halt your confident swagger as you check what you can and can’t deposit in the recycling; whilst the general waste bin stands their teasing you, offering to graciously accept any morsel of debris you have to offer. Slightly remorsefully, you escape the prying eyes that are clearly judging you following your cowardly decision, to return to your seat and cry.
Well, so you should. You’ve made your decision, and now you’ve killed the environment. Ethically, your preference is akin to those of history’s shameful past. Maybe you’re no Caligula yet, but you’re at least a solid Armstrong, at best a Judas.
If you’d have wanted, you could have recycled – a bit of a rarity in Jersey where we have a recycling rate of a meagre 30% of the 100,000 tonnes of waste we produce each year. Perhaps we’re not quite the inviting, family-friendly island we perceive ourselves to be and are instead just a hellish rock of morale deviants and waste perverts.

15,400 Litres of water is used to produce just 1kg of beef

It’s true – as an island we’re simply not doing enough. After all, we’re a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol; we might not like to admit it to our island friends but we signed up to that commitment – we pledged to reducing emissions and promoting sustainability. But most of us don’t even know what that means. Well, sustainability is the process of meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. If you will, it’s a process of development that actually factors in both environmental and social concerns, and actually attempts to minimise the potential consequences of said development. As an island community, we’re not even close to sustainability.

Therefore, you can save more water just by not eating 1kg of beef than you can should you not shower for a whole 3 months

What’s more, twice a day we bear witness to one of the largest tidal ranges in the world of more than 12 metres – each day we’re left to look at the seaweed surprise the sea leaves us simply to mark it’s territory – yet currently we have no system in place to harness this clean, consistent rush of energy. Instead we are victimised, by the French no less, as we are forced to import nearly all of our energy. In fact, we’ve become so heavily dependent upon EDF that in 2011 we produced just 2% of our electricity on island at our energy-from-waste plant. Yet we’re still surprised when the prices are raised and we just have to accept it – we have no energy security and about the same level of self-sufficiency as a drowning chihuahua. And if you thought France were making us look bad, then what about Alderney? They are already more than 10 years ahead of us in terms of exploiting tidal power and are actively pursuing the initiative. That’s right; Alderney.

In comparison, it takes just 1,300 litres of water to produce 1kg of wheat

95% Less energy is required to recycle a can than is needed to create one from scratch

But it doesn’t have to be like that. No, with proper investment we could become a thriving, fully functioning chihuahua that has the potential to produce 50% of our energy from just one tidal site to the north of the island. If we were to take advantage of this we could further reduce our emissions, increase our energy security, and even diversify the local economy at the same time, all the while putting Alderney firmly back in it’s place.
Also, it’s important to recognise the impact the food we eat can have upon the sustainability of our lifestyle. You may not realise it, but the production of meat is surprisingly inefficient. Although it only accounts for 2% of global GDP it still manages to contribute 18% of global greenhouse emissions – it’s almost impressive (in a slightly masochistic way). But in all seriousness it drains vast quantities of both energy and water, so if you were to make a commitment to sacrificing meat for an entire day – yes that’s three whole meals – you would actually still be doing something positive for the environment; even if you still couldn’t adopt an all out vegetarian diet.

“And if you thought france were making us look bad, then what about alderney? They are already more than 10 years ahead of us in terms of exploiting tidal power and are actively pursuing the initiative. That’s right; alderney.”

I think what I’m trying to say is that Jersey, as a small, closely-knit community could easily do more to embrace sustainability and the ethos that goes with it. After all we live amidst beautiful surroundings, so why tarnish it? Perhaps every now and then turn the lights off when they’re not needed; invest in a multi-million pound renewable energy scheme; and have the mental will-power to choose the recycling bin – and you just might save the world.

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