Greenpeace: An Initiation

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In March, I finally made it along to the South West London Greenpeace group’s monthly meeting which takes place at Balham Bowls Club.

I approached the event with trepidation because I thought I’d need to know everything about what’s going on in the wider Greenpeace world and I’d need to speak all the climate-change jargon, but to my joy, it wasn’t like that at all. Everybody was so friendly and welcoming, and the meeting was declared a jargon-free zone.

In that first meeting I was asked where I would most like to focus my efforts – whether it was forests, fracking, endangered species – and I answered with oceans. Being a surfer and a member of Surfer’s Against Sewage, I thought this would be the best grouping for me. So, I signed myself up to my first piece of non-violent protest – the Dirty Tuna sticker campaign.

We were each given a pack of black and yellow stripy stickers which read ‘This tuna is caught using methods that kill sharks, turtles and rays’ and show the link to Greenpeace’s Dirty Tuna video. Then we were asked to go into the supermarkets and stick one of these (ninja-style) on tins of John West and Prince’s tuna chunks. Greenpeace is targeting these two brands in particular because they state that they’re ‘dolphin-friendly’ but unfortunately this is such a loose term, meaning that other sea creatures are not included in this protection.

We were told to aim our efforts at Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and Waitrose because they all stock John West and Prince’s tuna, but also because they care about what their customers think. Then we were given the Greenpeace legal support number, you know, in case we are arrested in the process…

So, the following week I set to work on the Sainsbury’s a couple of minutes walk from where I work. Like some sort of spy, and with mission impossible playing in the back of my mind, I snooped around the canned-goods aisle and waited for the customers to dissipate. Then I plastered my stickers slowly, and as inconspicuously as possible, over the offending tins. Oh the adrenaline rush! I left feeling pretty mad, bad and rad.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, after my second Greenpeace meeting, I cycled into Balham on my way home from work and did a bit of postering for the I’m Not Backing Fracking campaign. It’s a Greenpeace/Friends of the Earth colab aiming to tip MPs towards actually saying NO to fracking – especially those who are still on-the-fence – ahead of the swiftly-approaching election.

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I popped into all sorts of shops and take-aways with my blue-tac at the ready. I was pleasantly surprised to find that lots of people were cool with having the posters in their window, but equally depressed to find that most people didn’t even know what fracking was. Even as I’m typing now, little red dotted lines are emerging underneath the word – it’s not even being acknowledged by dictionaries and spell-checks. Probably because fracking is such a widely unknown and fairly new technology. A new technology that is so counter-intuitive it makes me want to scream, tear my hair out, and mail it in an angry letter to the tories. What astounds me is how much money, time and energy is still being pumped into the research and implementation of destructive non-renewable technologies, when the answer is so obviously renewables.

As I discovered during my anti-fracking poster adventures, I am pretty shit at explaining what fracking actually is so if you’d like a decent, brief and unbiased explanation, I would recommend this BBC article.

If you fancy spreading the word, then follow this link to download and print off your very own batch of posters. Try and find out where your local MP’s office is and focus your efforts in that area.

So that was my first few weeks becoming an active Greenpeace volunteer! If this post has got you itching to give Greenpeace a go and do your bit for our poorly planet, then check out this link. They’re a friendly bunch and there is bound to be a group meeting monthly in a top-notch watering-hole near you.