'It's a day to take that little bit of extra care'

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Andy Farmer, of Littlefeet Environmental, tells James Jeune why 22 April is significant and how Islanders can take steps to ‘invest in our planet’ this Earth Day

FIRST held in 1970, Earth Day is widely considered to be the poster event of the modern eco movement.

‘It is a day to take that little bit of extra care and think about the energy you are using, as well as the greater footprint of what you are doing. It is a day when people can perhaps consider whether there is one thing you can change, a permanent change, that would make the world a better place,’ explained Andy Farmer, of Littlefeet Environmental.

More than a billion people spanning 193 countries celebrate Earth Day – on 22 April – each year, with the event designed to raise public awareness about environmental issues and promote activities such as picking up rubbish and planting trees.

‘We will get a beach clean going on that day so keep an eye on the Facebook page where details will be provided,’ Andy added.

Littlefeet Environmental held its first beach clean in 2012 in an effort to promote collaborative community involvement and reduce the global pressure placed on marine life by pollution.

The not-for-profit organisation aims to encourage individuals and organisations to think about the ways they can help build a sustainable future by taking small steps locally.

‘When we first started doing beach cleans, people would give us funny looks. I think they thought we were doing some kind of community service or something because it just wasn’t the done thing,’ Andy said.

‘People would ask us why we were picking up rubbish that we hadn’t put there but if everyone does it, then we start making progress.’

And Andy is glad to report that – 11 years later – the public perception of beach-cleaning appears to have changed significantly.

Beach Clean organiser Andy Farmer from Littlefeet on the beach Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (35480539)

‘People are taking it upon themselves to pick up a few items as they go and we hear from so many people who take a rubbish bag with them when they are walking the dog or just strolling on the beach,’ he said.

The theme for Earth Day 2023 is to ‘invest in our planet’, with a focus on engaging governments, institutions, businesses and individuals to do their part.

Last year the States Assembly approved the government’s Carbon Neutral Roadmap, which outlined an initial four-year £23 million delivery plan to help Jersey reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This includes plans for a series of carbon-reduction measures, the first of which was an e-bike grant scheme which opened for applications in January.

Although he acknowledged that some progress had been made over the past decade, Andy maintained that there was still a need for more eco-friendly incentives.

For example, he noted that the Island was yet to introduce a subsidy scheme for the purchase of electric vehicles, something that has proved successful in other jurisdictions.

‘It’s a shame because Jersey is a perfect place for electric vehicles.

‘It makes no sense because in the UK there’s the range anxiety but we don’t have that here. A full battery will take you wherever you want to go in the Island for the day and probably beyond that,’ he continued.

‘Why Jersey hasn’t taken advantage of that and become a template for sustainable transport is beyond me. But I feel that we still have that opportunity going forward.

‘Really, we need a proper master plan for all of this [in terms of] how we will fund subsidies, maybe with the petrol tax we pay, for example.’


Andy also pointed out that improved public transport infrastructure, such as the addition of bus lanes, would encourage more people to reduce their dependency on their car.

‘If you are taking the bus to work in the morning and you are held up in traffic, it just doesn’t help,’ he said. ‘I know we are limited on options in terms of what we can do but we could look into it in the long run.’

Regardless of whether the government’s carbon-neutral plans are successful, Andy agreed that the combined efforts of Islanders could certainly make a difference.

‘Sometimes we need to take ownership of these problems. If the government is not acting for the better, wherever you are, you need to do what you can to help make the world a better place,’ he said.

‘Whether it be buying a bike and cycling to work for the summer or taking a reusable bag with you to the shops, all these steps can make a difference. Obviously the public are much more aware of the plastic issue and generally do take a reusable bag with them now which is fantastic.’

He added that one of the ways that individuals could have a positive impact on the environment was by investing in green initiatives.

‘Look at what sort of options are on your pension plan, for example, and see whether there is an option that enables you to invest in a sustainable initiative.

‘There is so much that needs to happen, and we have the technology to change the world, but the money and the incentives just need to be there.’

Those interested in taking part in a beach clean can follow the Littlefeet Environmental Facebook page for updates on dates and locations.

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