Wayne’s blinking badges of condemnation

IMG_9250.JPGWayne Talbot is Corporate Relations Manager for the EAUC. In a guest blog, here he shares his story about the pledges he made at the EAUC Conference in May and the impact they’ve had on his habits and attitude. 

What happens when Hermione turns up to your conference? Simple, you end up making a pledge. A pledge to do something that will make a grown person feel virtuous and sustainable and generally good about themselves.

Being a little long in the tooth, I thought I’d be smart and find something easy to achieve. So I set myself two simple targets: Tea time (to only boil the kettle with the right amount of water in) and Fix it (to fix my bike and more importantly, get on it!).

I started by pining my two pledge badges in a prominent part of the kitchen. This meant that visitors would ask stupid questions, make fun of me and start wondering aloud if I would actually stick to my pledges. Once word of my pledges spread, this conversation soon extended to the pub, going out for dinner or even bumping into people at the shops.

Eventually my partner got in on the conversation, which resulted in two immediate changes to our regular caffeine routine:

  1. We got a new coffee machine so we only make as much coffee as we want with fresh ground beans. A great step forward in only heating the water I need, and it also got us thinking about what coffee to put in it – where, who and what is responsible for getting it from field to kitchen?
  2. I thought I’d committed to do one really simple action when it comes to brewing my tea, but I’m now obsessing about everything related to it. Should I bag or leaf? What is the optimal water regime for a complete life cycle analysis of making a cuppa? That is before I stare at the cup – should I, do I need to, is it really necessary, what is the correct number of brews before you clean the mug? Every time? There is now an obstacle course of thought I go through every time I make a cuppa – demonstrating that simple changes can lead to bigger thinking!

Not content with the obstacle course in my mind, I also have a physical one in the garage. One month into the challenge and my bike is still in there. Admittedly, it’s under couple of years of useful stuff (well, the bits I know I should keep in case they become useful). My partner insists the bike should be sent to a better home, any home, as long as it is not ours. I know it will not take long to fix, but somehow with all the rain recently any dry periods have been spent in the garden growing my heritage seed veg (surely worth some extra brownie points).

I know the bike can be easily fixed – but somehow there has always been something better to do. This is where the little badge is helping.

I swear it blinks at me. It looks disappointed and sometimes downright evil when I fail to get the spanners out and just do the job. Whenever I decide to leave it to another day, that little winking badge of condemnation looks at me. Compare this to the nice badge of greenness and warmth, the one that says by and large you are getting the kettle boiling right. I like that badge because I’m getting it right about 80% of the time.

I know that my simple pledges can make a difference and while It’s frustrating that fixing the bike has eluded me thus far, I know I’ll get there in the end.

My employer, the EAUC, expects me to help embed sustainability into universities and colleges. Do Nation challenged me to do that in my life – so I am trying to walk the talk with a cuppa and my bike repair kit.

The best part of making these pledges? I get satisfaction out of achieving this stuff and I like that it has made me think.

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