S2E7 - Sian Conway of Ethical Hour - Ethical Marketing Strategies
Sian Conway is an ethical marketer working on behalf of Mother earth. Ethical Hour works with impact entrepreneurs on marketing strategies to grow their income and impact.
- Sian’s eye-opening trip to Cambodia as the inspiration behind Ethical Hour
- #ethicalhour connecting people that share the same values
- Combining her previous marketing skills with more current social missions to combat the climate crisis
- Our poor attitude to fashion and fast turnover of trends resulting in the exploitation of our people and our planet for cheap, accessible fashion
- Consumer culture issues are not subject to the fashion industry but are translatable across food, tech and more
- Sian’s networking is her business superpower
- Importance of ensuring any scientific data is presented in the ‘human language’ and is not off-putting to large audiences
- Ensuring ethical brands maintain focus on customer’s needs
- Benefits of staying engaged with local and national politics
For ethical and sustainable business owners, we have a FREE 5 day email challenge that will help you with your impact strategy.
[0:08] Will: Welcome back to the Green Element podcast where we feature business leaders and innovators transforming their operations to be more environmentally, and socially sustainable. I’m your host, Will Richardson and I can’t wait to meet our guest today and help you on your journey of sustainability. Hi, Sian, welcome to the Green Element Podcast, thank you so much for joining today. I’m excited to find out more about Ethical Hour and how you connect people on the start of their environmental journey through to the end. And it’d be great to explore more about who you’re reaching, and how we can help you reach your targets and people and how we can help you with that journey. Welcome, thank you so much.
[0:53] Sian: Thanks. I’m really glad to be here.
[0:56] Will: Could you tell us a bit more about Ethical Hour? And I guess, what is that you do and tell us about your approach?
[1:02] Sian: Yeah, so that’s always a really interesting conversation to have, because there’s so many different strands to what Ethical Hour is all about and what we do. But I think the easiest way to kind of explain it is to really talk about where it came from as a concept. So, back in 2015, I was working in corporate marketing, I was living very unsustainably, I was buying fast fashion all the time and I wasn’t really thinking about any of these issues, until I went to Cambodia on holiday and actually met some artisans that were silk weaving. And long story short, I started learning about their craft and what they were doing and at the same time, realized that the trousers I was wearing actually had a label saying made in Cambodia in them. And that as it does, that kind of got me thinking, it’s thought this light bulb of well, I’ve met these people who are making these beautiful garments by hand on these looms, and it’s long process, and I paid probably 10, 15 pounds these trousers. So, how does that come about? What situation is the person who made these trousers in and what is happening there?
[2:16] Sian: And when I came back, I started to kind of dig into that, and obviously came across the true cost and all the various resources out there, and the shocking realization of what’s going on in fashion supply chain, which, let’s be honest, we all know about, we’re just if we’re not engaged in ethical fashion with choosing to ignore it. So, at that moment, I decided that I wasn’t going to ignore it anymore and I was going to start changing my ways and learning more. And obviously being in marketing took to the internet to do that. So, I started blogging, which is where Ethical Hour began as a blog about my journey into these topics and then very quickly wanted to reach other people that were going on on this journey as well. So, started a Twitter chat, which is why we’re hashtag Ethical Hour. So, every Monday at 8pm, UK time, we now bring together people that are on this ethical and sustainable journey to talk about a whole range of different topics. So, ethical fashion is one, but you know, we could be talking about palm oil one week, and then we could be talking about climate change another week. And we’re really just there to connect people that share these values and want to make a difference, but don’t necessarily know how to do that in their life or in their work, or you know, where to turn to get information and support and a sense of community.
[3:36] Sian: And then alongside that journey, I realized that there’s these small ethical brands in this space that have amazing products and amazing values, but no idea how to tell that story to the world. And being in marketing, that’s where I could help them. So, I actually ended up off the back of starting this giving the corporate world and leaving my job and becoming a consultant who works with ethical brands. So, that’s kind of the income generating side but then the social mission really is to start these conversations and then I also invest my profits back into good causes that align to all of these different issues that we’re looking at. So, we use the Sustainable Development Goals as our framework for that which we can dig into if you like, but that’s really how it’s come full circle and turned into a business but also a global community as well.
[4:28] Will: You talked about the true cost, I didn’t want to interrupt you at that moment, but could you go into the trousers that you bought and you started to understand the true cost? What do you mean by true cost?
[4:41] Sian: Yeah, so that’s really a reference to the documentary called The True Costs, which I would recommend anybody watches if they’re interested, or there is hard to watch, because it goes into a lot of these issues. But really, my way into it was, you know, I bought this pair of trousers, they were kind of yoga pants style trousers from a high street fashion brand, as you do when you’re kind of in the fast fashion space, you pop out on your lunch break and go into one of the shops and buy about 10 different garments, and that’s your holiday clothes. And every holiday you buy new clothes, and so on and don’t really think about it because it’s so cheap and it’s so convenient. And actually in that documentary, there is a part where there’s a psychologist talking about our relationship to our clothes, and how we’ve kind of see them as convenience items but also that little pick me up, like you would have a cup of coffee as a special treat or something. You know, it just it gives you that hit and that instant gratification. But that looks at the, all of the things in the fashion revolution campaign and things that came up off the back of the Rana Plaza collapsing in 2013. So that was a factory in Bangladesh, that collapse killed and injured thousands of people and majority of the people in there were garment workers in factories where they were working for these big High Street fast fashion companies and they were told to go back in even though they knew the building was structurally unsound, and that this could happen, because they had such big targets to meet and they were under so much pressure.
[6:12] Sian: So, essentially sweatshops and then obviously this, I think it was the biggest industrial disaster we’ve ever had, if not, it’s certainly up there. And that kind of hit the headlines and people did start to question at that point, who was making their clothes, where their clothes were coming from, what brands were doing? And I think the shocking thing off the back of that was actually that brands weren’t taking responsibility, you know, the brands that were using that factory, and you could see it in the rubble, you could see labels for certain brands. And they were saying, well, we, you know, our, our suppliers subcontract to that factory, we’ve got no control over that. And what people started to realize, and what the documentary goes into is that actually, there’s these incredibly complex supply chains happening in fashion and this pressure to deliver clothes so quickly and so cheaply, that actually the true cost is the human cost and the environmental cost of these clothes and the production in that people are being exploited, and the planet is being exploited to make cheap fashion.
[7:15] Will: What do you feel about, I read in the news, I think it was a couple of days ago, maybe yesterday about Primark asking for 30% off their rent across the UK, because they’re saying that their clothes can’t be any cheaper so therefore, they’re asking for money off their rent, there are obviously other ways that they could go about doing business. I mean, is that, coming from your world, what do you think about that? What’s your initial thoughts?
[7:45] Sian: I’m not going to lie, I can’t stand Primark and I live near Birmingham, where they’ve just opened the biggest one and it’s like five stories of just cheap fashion. And I think that model is fundamentally what’s wrong here. I mean, if you think about it, you could go to Primark and buy a T shirt, or a dress or pair of jeans for 5 to 10 pounds. Well, actually, if you trace that garment back, a farmer in a field, someone has grown the cotton that’s gone into it, let’s say it’s a cotton t shirt and then somebody has turned that into fabric and then somebody has turned that into a garment. And I think what’s happened is that these brands have developed this model that’s all about selling masses. So, people are going into Primark, they’re not just spending 5 pounds generally on a T shirt, they’re probably spending 100 pounds, but they’re getting 10 items for that hundred pounds. So, and then what’s happening, if you look at the stats, they’re wearing those garments, once they’re not well-made garments, so they don’t last anyway. But we’re so used to there being new trends, these fast fashion brands are called fast fashion because they turn around trends so quickly. They’re releasing new collections every two weeks. They will release up to 24 new collections in a year, if not more, some of them are even more.
[9:05] Will: So, do people follow that? I guess my mind is like, really, people got enough time to follow something that changes every two weeks.
[9:13] Sian: It’s the lifestyle. I wish, I know this is a podcast, I wish people could see the shock on your face, because in the ethical space, that is what we think, we’re like, oh, my gosh, how can you do that? But if you look at a lot of the influencers, there’s young girls on YouTube doing halls, where they go and buy 10 items and Primark, and then they show off on a video what they’ve bought. So, there’s a whole cycle here and I think it’s about our attitude to fashion and this kind of culture that, you know, if you’re going out on a Friday night, you can’t be seen in something that you wore last Friday, and you can’t have the same outfit on your Instagram feed twice and all of this. And I think that, you know, to be honest, so I tested this, not last summer, the summer before we hit the age where everybody we knew was getting married, and we had five weddings in six weeks. So, I bought one dress in a charity shop and I wore it to each wedding. And nobody noticed that I’d worn the same dress to all those weddings for five weeks in a row, nobody noticed. And obviously photos all over Instagram, social media and whatever. But these brands and this advertising and this lifestyle has tricked us into this over consumption that’s really harmful. And to come back to your question about Primark and their brand, I think that’s a sign that actually fundamentally this business model is broken, and it’s not going to survive, because actually we are waking up to the damage this is doing and the climate emergency and the human costs that it’s taking, and they’re going to have to change or go bust and I won’t be sorry, if they go.
[10:53] Will: No, I think, yeah, I had a feeling you’d say that. It’s either that will put their prices up and pay people more because they’re obviously thinking about that environmental costs now, aren’t they? They’re obviously thinking about how they can earn the same but be more sustainable in more ways than one. And that’s not going to happen on this current price point, that 1 out of 3, 4 pounds of T shirts and pants and T shirt.
[11:18] Sian: The pricing is a really interesting point because at the same time, we do have a problem in this country where some people can’t afford clothes, you know, they can afford to pay more in any other way, because they’re on such low incomes. So, whenever you bring up the pricing issue around fashion, there will be a group of people that always get very defensive about that and say that they need clothes to be at that price. So, this is a kind of a sign of a break in the system, I think, but I think it’s not that actually clothes, you know, ethical clothes are too expensive. If you were to compare Primark t shirts and ethically made t shirt, the difference would look massive. You know, if we put it up right now, it would look massive. And we’d be like, wow, okay, why are you going to go and spend that much when you could get it to 5 pounds, which okay, that is an argument. But I think it’s actually that we’ve got so used to close being so cheap, and that’s why the system is broken. So, actually, when you look at the cost of something, it’s ethically made, that’s what it should cost, but the whole system is broken. So, I think for this shift to happen, a lot of things are getting the need to move into place that it needs to happen.
[12:31] Will: Maybe we should, I remember going into a shop in Brighton with my other half Seasalt and Seasalt is a good company. You know, they’re based in Cornwall, and I went in, started chatting to the lady and she because Laura was looking at something you know, in whatever part of the shop, was kind of looking around, she was, are you alright? And I went, I’m just looking for the men’s department because I’ve hardly ever come into shop, so I figured I’ve actually got a jump her deals, I’d like to see what else you got. She looked at me, when did you buy that jumper? About two and a half, three years ago and she went, and have you bought anything from the Seasalt since? I went, no, and she went, and that’s the problem, we don’t actually sell men’s clothes anymore because we’ve realized that men don’t go into our shops enough and don’t buy enough clothes for us to warrant continually making them. And I was like, oh, that’s a shame because I probably do need a new jumper now. And she said, yep. And what made me think was, if that’s possibly a good way to go, isn’t it because you end up buying clothes so rarely, because you just wait until they run out, I mean, men are definitely not, they buy technology, you know, they’ll buy a load of crap in that. So, therefore, I’m not saying that men are infallible, but within the fashion industry, it seems that they’ve probably got a better way of doing things as a whole, I’m now being completely general and I’m probably as well. I really don’t mean to, I’m just speaking from my own personal point of view.
[13:59] Sian: Yeah, it’s very valid and actually it’s very hard to find ethical menswear, there’s not a lot of brands doing it. It’s like a niche within a niche. But you know, the same problem exists in tech, it exists in pretty much everything we consume, E-waste is one of the biggest waste streams because of this attitude that we buy the latest trend, and then we move on. So, you know, why do you upgrade your phone every year just because you’re eligible for an upgrade when you’ve got a phone that works perfectly fine? So, I think, you know, fashion is one example, tech is one example, food is another example but actually, all of this is a sign that actually our consumer culture is broken and we need to start thinking circular, we need to start thinking about the full life cycle. And we need to start using what we’ve got and making it last. And then when it is broken, repair it and value it and if you can’t repair it, can you repurpose it into something else? They were very quick to just send things off to landfill and hit the shops to buy the next big.
[15:01] Will: Yeah and #ethicalhour on Mondays at 8pm, what sort of conversations do you have around that? Are they really, really desperate and lots and lots of different types of conversations or is it largely around fashion or what, which ones stand out?
[15:21] Sian: Completely, from a topic point of view, completely different. I would say though, that we, it’s generally preaching to the converted because like with anything online, you attract like-minded people. So, it’s, you know, it’s a very nice place to be on a Monday night because we’re all generally agreeing with each other. So, it’s nice, you know, pour a glass of wine and have a cup of tea and come and hang out with like-minded people in Ethical Hour but it is having a wider reach because we attract so many people now and it’s on Twitter and you know, trends regularly and things so, and people come at all different stages of their journey. But in terms of topics, ethical fashion is always a popular one, I think because that’s where my journey began. But I think with anything with ethical living, you come in from one angle that you care about. So, you know, for you, it might be tech for somebody, it might be food and kind of maybe making the transition to vegan or whatever.
[16:13] Sian: For me, it happens to be fashion, even though now I’m not into clothes at all. I think I was so swept up in these trends, I’ve kind of broken that and now I just dress for my style and I bought, you know, I can’t remember the last time I bought any clothes and I make things last. So, fashion is always a popular one because that’s where we started but we’ve talked about all sorts from E-waste to fair trade, we talked about plastic a lot at the moment, obviously, because that’s a very hot topic in our space, we talked about climate change a lot, we’ve talked about ethical dairy, we’ve talked about veganism. So, it’s nice because it’s very respectful of different opinions but we are not afraid to kind of throw these topics on the table and really dig into them and just see what’s going on and what the ethical dilemmas are and what we can do, we’re very proactive about right, okay, that’s the problem. What can we do about it?
[17:06] Will: Where do you see #ethicalhour going?
[17:10] Sian: Hopefully, more and more people, we’ve been going three years now and I wouldn’t say it grows every week, but we have kind of the familiar faces but every week we have at least one new person. But it grows when we have big campaigns, so throughout the year, so fashion revolution in April, which marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, we do a big campaign for that, we get involved in things like Zero Waste week. And we have a big one in November when Black Friday comes around, again, another pet hate of mine is Black Friday, we actually do a big campaign called shop ethical instead, where we encourage people to shop with independent ethical businesses for their Christmas gifts and things they might want to buy. And so, rather than completely boycott it, you know, still support the businesses that are doing good, but vote with your wallet. And when your big campaigns, we reach over 6 million impressions on that hashtag in that week when we’re running that campaign. And it just, it can be massive, we’ve had really good press attention have been on radio at four and kind of really surreal experiences like that I went on Turkish TV, not last week, the week before. So, it’s just really great.
[18:19] Sian: And I think in terms of where we’re going next, I want to step up those campaigns, I want us to do more and kind of actually use our voice for change. Because I think that’s the key, but I just see it growing because I think the sustainability movement is just getting started. And you know, the mainstream media is on to this now in a big way around plastic in fashion, a bit in food but there’s so much more. And in the climate emergency, of course, there’s so much more and you know, I think we’re going to see water shortages, we’re going to see a destabilization of the climate, we’re all going to start feeling that sense of urgency and I think, to bring it back to tech and that analogy, we’re kind of the early adopters, you know, everybody that’s in this space at the moment, probably the people listening to this podcast, you know, us guys, the early adopters, but now it’s about to kind of go viral and break into the mainstream. So, I’m hoping we can be a safe space for people to come and start that journey and learn more.
[19:17] Will: I hope you’re right. Like, yeah, every time I listened to the conversations like this, I’ve been doing this for over 15 years, and but there are people out there that have been doing this since the 1960s. You know, they’ve been doing my job since the 60s and I’ve seen a couple of peaks and troughs in the time that I’ve been doing it, but those guys will have seen a real in the 70s, there was a quite a big shift towards sustainability. And then 80s it just completely drops off, 90s it kind of research a bit and then went down. And then in about 2010, it had surged back up again. And then it’s after the last recession, it starts to drop back in people, the people that really interestingly really cared about the cost savings and the environmental impact, absolutely started using more environmental stuff. So, Green Element, we grew through the last recession. But we definitely saw a tab, it just tables off in about 2014, 15, it started to plateau. And now I think with extinction rebellion and I think, I guess they’re the probably the and greater, I think the two of them, which one came first? I don’t know, I think they probably both came at the same time, didn’t they?
[20:39] Sian: Yeah.
[20:41] Will: Which is interesting, because it fits in with what you hear about tipping points, and therefore there’s a load of other tipping points that have happened. And I really hope you’re right, with us continually understanding more about environmental and funny enough, the statistics, used to be 96% of scientists think that climate change is man-made, it’s now 99%. And I wonder if they say 99% because they can’t ever say 100%. It’s going to be about random person that’s paid for by BP or Exxon Mobil that’s trying to buck the trend and writing journal articles that are proving otherwise.
[21:24] Sian: Yeah, exactly. I think it’s really interesting because yeah, when you talk to people that have been in this movement for a long time, the same issues resurface as well. So, bring it back to fashion, we had a big kind of awareness campaign about sweatshops in the 90s and then people kind of assumed that was solved, and it was left in the 90s. And then again, in 2013, when Rana Plaza happened, that kind of came back into public consciousness. And so, it must be quite disheartening to see these come back around and not have made massive progress. But I think the difference now or hope the difference now, is these reports about how long we’ve actually got left to fix the climate crisis. And on one hand, it’s terrifying when you look at everything, okay, 10 years, you know, a lot of people when he talks about that, they say, you know, I’m doing this for my grandchildren. But actually, if you think about 10 years, that’s not for our grandchildren, that’s not even for our children, that’s us, say that’s within our lifetime, we’re going to see massive shifts. So, I think we’re almost going to be forced to act and to sort it out, or if not, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.
[22:31] Will: What would you say was would be your kind of superpower? What’s your business superpower?
[22:36] Sian: Oh, that’s a good question, I think is the connections. So, I wouldn’t say, I’ve come to learn a lot about some of these issues. There’s still issues in the space I don’t know a lot about at all. But I think it’s bringing together the right people to have these conversations, and almost being the catalyst for these conversations, and these connections and these introductions and pulling that network together. And I think because I come from a marketing background that’s very much about, you know, building audiences and so I worked for a tech company. So, it’s very much a growth hacking approach, which is how can we get this to market as quickly as possible to as many people as possible, which is about understanding the psychology and what people need. So, I think, doing that connection work, and coming at it from that marketing angle of actually, how do I make this relatable and understandable? How do I take that scientific data and make it human? And then how do I make it human in a way that doesn’t scare you so much that you just go, no, not engaging with that at all, don’t want to know, just going to carry on living my life, buying my stuff, doing my thing. So, yeah, I think that spark in those conversations and spark in that change and being kind of touch point for that to happen.
[23:53] Will: And you talked about how, I mean, obviously got this, #ethicalhour, but you work in marketing as well, working with brands, what are the sort of problems that you see over and over again, within your day job?
[24:08] Sian: Yeah, so I work with ethical and sustainable brands, typically, in their first five years, of prior to coming into this space, had a lot of experience with startups, and high growth startups and kind of incubators and things like that. So, typically, in their first five years, that’s where I love to work with them, and find it the most interesting, and that’s where they tend to come to me. I think, in the ethical brand space, there’s a couple of really common problems I see them struggling with and the kind of main one is that they’re usually very driven by their cause, or their issue, or the social environmental problem they’ve set out to solve, but they forget what problem they’re solving for their customers. So, they’ve got this brilliant story, they’ve got these values, you know, they’ve got this beautiful fair-trade product, or this amazing ethical service that they can provide, but they’re actually not selling it in the right way. They’re assuming, and typically, a lot of people come to this space, either from a completely different backgrounds, different charity, or not for profit, or from a completely different corporate world, where somebody else has done the selling for them. So, they actually really struggle to sell, because they’re not addressing what that product is going to do for the person buying it. And they almost assume that that person is going to buy it just because it does good in the world, you know, it’s fair trade, it’s ethically made.
[25:31] Sian: And sadly, that’s not the case, you know, you still have to solve a problem for the consumer at the end of the day for them to part with their money. So, that’s number one and it ties into number two, which again, is around selling, actually, they’re very scared of selling, and they’re very hung up in this money mindset of, it’s wrong to make money from my cause and it’s wrong to sell, you know, selling is this kind of dell boy sleazy secondhand car salesman activity, and I don’t like it and I’m not going to do it, or just, I’m scared of money, I’m scared of that side of it. And I think that’s because if you come from a charity or not for profit, you’ve been used to rely on donations. And if you’ve come from the corporate world, unless you’ve actually been in the marketing or sales department, there’s been a department that’s handling that for you. And you know, when you become a business owner, you are all of the departments, you have to learn how to do all of these things. So typically, that’s where I see them struggling and that’s where I kind of step in and help them but so much of it is actually about mindset, either understanding your own mindset and overcoming your own mindset barriers or understanding the mindset of your customers, and why they care about your business, but also why they need your product or service.
[26:45] Will: That’s really useful. If you give one piece of advice, what would that advice be for people listening to this podcast?
[26:52] Sian: I think if they’re business owners, and that has resonated with them, you have to think about what you’re doing in business, if it wasn’t ethical, so take the course take the sustainability, take the ethical fair trade, whatever it is, take that message completely out of it and just think about that product or that service, and how you would sell it without that story. That’s not to say that that story isn’t really important and can’t be a big part of your marketing because it absolutely is, and it can. But the complete foundation, which is missing from so many ethical brands, is actually how do I sell this product to that customer? So, I think starting from that point and then just as consumers, and you know, as humans, I think just again, that point about the small steps and just starting, just do something and you know, we are at a really scary time, we’re seeing all these extremist headlines about 10 years, 18 months, whatever to fix the climate and all the horrible things that are going to happen to us if we die. And even I get to the point where I’m like, I just don’t want to think about how to and I just want to bury my head in the sand, and we’re all doomed. But I think you just have to do something, you have to keep that optimism in your actions and just take the small steps that you can, but we’re not going to shop our way out of there. So, use your voice as a citizen, not just a consumer, you know, vote for the right people with the right policies that aligns what you believe, sign the petitions, share the posts on social media, but use your voice.
[28:25] Will: Isn’t that quite hard to do at the moment with the current group of politicians, I can’t really know many of in empower. I can in Scotland, actually, because I’m based in Edinburgh. But if we’re talking about the rest of England’s, sadly, very few, Caroline Lucas, possibly one of the few that, you know, actually does practice what we preach. I know the Lib Dems used to, I actually don’t know the politicians anymore, although I still vote for them, completely died to death. But yeah, neighbor and tourists, there are factions of both that do this. Sadly, it’s in this day and age, it’s still not top priority.
[29:09] Sian: Yeah, and I think that’s why people disengage, and you can see how it happens because you look at it and you think, well, none of them represent me. And the most common thing that you hear if you talk about the greens is what they’ll never get in because we’ve got first past the post and that’s never going to change. And it ends up just feeling like this big system that’s kind of run away and isn’t anything to do with you anymore. So, people stop listening to politics, they stopped following it, they stop reading the policies, they even stopped voting. And I think that’s the most dangerous position we can get to, where actually, we’ve just got this apathy, and we’ve all switched off, because then they can do what they want, right. And they work for us so I love that website, theyworkforus.org or Dakota UK part member. And you can actually go on there and look up any of the MPs, how they voted, you can look up issues, you could put in that climate change and see all the times it’s been talked about in Parliament and it will translate it into kind of human language, because I think politics is quite a big scary language and system and tradition and it just doesn’t feel accessible to the average person on the street but you can use that and then they’ve got system website where you can write to your MP, so just stop bugging your MP.
[30:23] Sian: But I started at the beginning of the year, tweeting my local MP every single day we got conservative MP, he’s useless on anything to do with anything but particularly the environment. So, I just started tweeting and I thought, well, he’s either going to block me, ignore me or get annoyed, but at least I feel like I’m having a voice and doing something. And it kept me engaged in making sure I was writing to him regularly and making sure I was listening to what was going on. You know, it sounds silly and it probably did annoy him, I did stop eventually, but actually, it kept me engaged with it. And I think that’s the biggest challenges that we’ve all got to push through this frustration and anger sometimes and fear of what’s going to happen and apathy and actually just stay engaged with it and just keep going because that’s the only way it’ll change.
[31:11] Will: Did you get feedback from your MP?
[31:13] Sian: No.
[31:14] Will: Did you get anything from them at all?
[31:16] Sian: Not a single reply. I tweeted it, I think I did kind of two months of tweeting him almost every day and not a single reply. And I was getting clips of him talking in parliament, I was getting things that he’d said off if they work for you, I set up an alert and they work for you for his name and for all the environmental issues so that it was sending it to my inbox so that my tweets were just basically there, I can just lift it and I didn’t get a single reply. My next thing I want to do is go because they have open surgeries in their constituencies where you can go and actually meet them face to face. So, my next thing to do is actually go and see him but I got busy client work habits take priority all the rest of it. So I kind of fell off the bandwagon of doing that tweeting, but I do you want to make time to just go and see him and actually say, you know, you should, you work for us, you are supposed to be representing us. And although you’re not from my political party or my elected representative in this constituency, and it’s your job to represent us.
[32:16] Sian: So, I think they think that we don’t care, and I was reading some stats and research around why nothing has been done about plastic. And this was old, this was pre blue planet, there’s probably change now. But actually, the reason why nothing’s ever been done about it is because they are not asked about it. And its parts and potentials and things which I forget but it said it doesn’t come up in conversation. When we go out and talk to our constituents, they don’t ask about climate change, they don’t ask about plastic. So, actually, if there’s a local election and people are knocking on your door, talk to them, tell them what matters to you, tweet them what matters to you, email them, write to them, go sit in their surgery and tell them what you care about.
[32:53] Will: I think that has changed because I think that now, climate changes in the top three most important issues to the British public. It’s the NHS climate change and I can’t actually remember what I possibly education actually. Yeah, that’s up there. So, I can’t believe that they didn’t come back to you, actually, that actually really surprises me. Because, yeah, granted, I mean, you’ve said it yourself. You were annoying and yeah, you probably were annoying. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t want to be tweeted but actually, a week or two in, you weren’t annoying, you were just someone that was tweeting in every day, and so why not just reply and go, brilliant, would you like to come to my open surgery, please? Because it’d be great to talk to you face to face. I guarantee I may be wrong, but I would imagine you would have stopped tweeting at that point. I think that’s, I’m the most surprised about is the fact that he didn’t, just say I actually think that’s disgraceful and it’s not really a politician, he’s actually self-serving.
[33:58] Sian: Exactly. And, you know, is being respectful and wasn’t swearing, or, you know, I was disagreeing with him, but on an adult to adult level, not some of their kind of hate tweets you get on Twitter, I wouldn’t dream of doing that, even though I disagree with his policies, you know, I was respectful to him as a person. And actually, I think you’re not doing your job if you’re not talking to your constituents but again, it’s apathy. I think they’ve always held their seat here for years and years and years and never going to lose their seat here or so they think, I mean, it’s probably quite likely for a long time, so it’s always been conservative, probably always will. So, we are divided as a county, there are parts and labor but the bit that I’m in is conservative, and probably always will be. But I think it’s just that apathy and when the local elections came around, nobody knocks on our door, there was no, from any of the parties. And actually, you know, I’ve grown up in an area that’s been a swing seat, so you always get them knocking on your door, talking to you. So, I’m was ready, I work from home, I was keen every time. So, I was the keenest person ever, ready to talk to them about climate change, and not one person came around, we got one leaflet for the Brexit part. So, I mean, it’s just that, that apathy, and I think the public experience it, the politicians are failing, and we’re all just stuck in this state of well, nothing’s going to change. And if we all think like that, nothing is going to change.
[35:27] Will: How about this for an idea. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever read the green Manifesto, but from an environmental point of view is very good. But from a base of everything other than the environment, it’s pretty awful. And I do wonder if they should recognize they’re not a major party, they don’t have enough donors, they don’t have enough money in order to come up with realistic and intelligence policies for education, for terrorism, for whatever. So, why not just say, this is our policy, sustainability environment, and we will then partner with any other party. So, if the tourists get in, we will join them. If labor again, we will join them, because I wonder how, because I actually would vote for them, straight away. They would then probably get more seats, because by pure virtue, people will be going, actually, I actually know that late however much people and the people that only vote for labor, only vote for tourists at the end of the day, the kind of that you know, that although as it currently stands, I don’t think the current labor government are particularly stable, but as a rule of thumb, they usually are. And as a rule of thumb, the tourist are and as a rule of thumb, the Lib Dems are, you know, they’re stable, and you may not agree with every single policy they’ve got, but if you’re passionate about the environment, and actually that’s the bit that you’re voting for, it just makes sense to me.
[36:54] Sian: Exactly, I think that’d be a really good way to go. And I think, particularly because we’ve got a first pass the post system, so they’re always going to struggle, I think they’re doing very well at the moment on a local level, but nationally, because that’s always going to struggle. And I actually think that the conservative Lib Dem coalition we have a few years ago, was probably one of the most representative governments for the majority of people that we’ve had in a very long time. So, I think we need to look at that coalition model and actually replicate that and I think, you know, certain parties are stronger in certain areas. So, it just makes sense, it makes sense to do that, but I do also think that and they’re talking about it now having citizens assemblies and people’s assemblies, to tackle some of these issues like climate change, I do think that’s a good way to go. A couple of nights ago, I watched the great hack documentary about the interference in the elections. And that just blew my mind, terrifying.
[37:52] Will: I’ve got something from Facebook said they watched that; I really want to watch it.
[37:56] Sian: It’s very, very good. It’s a very, very terrifying, and it does make you question actually, again, I just think we’ve got outdated systems that aren’t caught up to the other things going on in the world. Now, you know, technology in the way that it can be interfered with is very eye opening. And I think it doesn’t really make a case for what is the different model but I actually think when you start looking into it, you start hearing about examples where citizens assemblies have been really effective, and that kind of thing, actually, that probably is the way to go with experts. I mean, if you look at, you’ve got people in positions of power, in education, for example, where the only experience of the education system is that they went to school, went to school years ago. So, I think we need to draw on experts and we need to start respecting scientists and kind of drawing on all of that expertise that as a global community we’ve got, we’re just not utilizing it in the right way, we’re not putting our resources in the right place. If we put our minds to it and our resources to it, we could pull out the climate.
[38:55] Will: Wasn’t that what Tony Blair was doing with putting in czars? That was the idea behind it, that was it, I think.
[39:02] Sian: But the resources are there, you know, there’s a really good book by project drawdown, if you don’t want to read the whole book, did a TED talk about it, which is very worth listening to, that they looked at the hundred most viable solutions to climate change. And we’ve actually already got 80 of them. And if we applied all 80, we would stabilize the climate, we would start draw down because it’s drawing down the gases and the emissions, we would achieve that. And actually, we would achieve all the targets that we set, and it would all happen. So, yes, it feels very big and scary and like we can’t do anything but actually, there’s already a plan there, we just need to follow it.
[39:42] Will: It is a good TED talk, actually and well worth watching. I’m very conscious of the time and I get the impression that the two of I could probably talk about this for a very long time.
[39:55] Sian: Yeah, I feel like I’ve gotten my face.
[40:00] Will: It’s been really, really interesting. And I know that the takeaway that I’ve got from this is, think about what is the are buying, particularly from a fashion point of view, but from anything point of view, and how long you’re going to have it for. Don’t think about buying it and then buying another one a week later, or two weeks later, as the fashion seems to be. So, thank you so much for talking to us today #ethicalhour, 8pm on Mondays, I will join the conversation. It’s just after we put one of the oldest to bed so I should be able to next Monday. Fire me an email, Will want you on by all means. Yeah, so thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me today and speaking to us.
[40:44] Sian: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me. And I think it’s been quite representative of what the Ethical Hour chats are like, kind of big juicy topics and a lot of to dig into say please do join and your listeners, obviously, more than welcome as well.
[40:59] Will: Thank you so much. Thank you.
[41:01] Sian: Thank you.
[41:03] Will: Thank you so much for listening to the end of this episode of the Green Element podcast. Do take a moment and share this with your friends and colleagues, rate and review the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. I’d love to know what has been your biggest takeaway from this conversation, what are you going to do differently? Please share your thoughts across social media and tag us so we can see them too, @GE_podcast. For links and show notes for this episode, visit our website greenelement.co.uk/podcast. Thank you again. I hope you will join me on the next episode and together we can help create a better world.
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