Dear Reader - meeting Extinction Rebellion Harrogate + recycling dangers

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 7th February 2020, 11:30 am
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 11:34 am
Extinction Rebellion Harrogate was set up recently to battle against climate change.

I sat down for a chat on Friday lunchtime with the two founders of the town’s latest pressure group - Extinction Rebellion Harrogate.

No, before you ask, they hadn’t chained themselves to a stool.

If you’ve seen the headlines, you’ll already know Extinction Rebellion is the world’s fastest-growing political movement.

Formed less than two years ago, this new style activism now boasts ‘branches’ in nearly 200 countries with members of every age, type and creed.

A chain to be reckoned with.

The difference between them and other existing environmental groups doing their bit to alert the world to the climate crisis is simple.

Others talk, they act.

The streets may belong to them occasionally, but, in the case of Extinction Rebellion Harrogate’s founders, it was a couple of Americano coffees they had a grip of.

Everything they said seemed based on reason and was delivered in a calm, lucid fashion.

On this fluffy basis, I would advise not to expect any significant disruptions in Harrogate town centre any time soon if it weren’t for one thing.

Extinction Rebellion is not organised like most organisations.

There are no committees, no hierarchy and no leaders to vet or veto any possible action by anyone.

When I asked one of them how many members Extinction Rebellion Harrogate had so far, the answer came with a unembarassed smile - “we don’t really know.”

Every time I get the recycling box ready I have this sinking feeling it’s all just going to end up as landfill.

I know it’s a ridiculous notion, one built on fear, not facts.

And I can’t really imagine Harrogate council letting such a thing happen, though dafter things have happened.

But, in my experience, going a bit green isn’t that difficult.

Taking a cloth bag to the shops or a reusable cup to the café for a coffee seems like the least anyone who fears the results of global warming should be prepared to do.

I live my life as a one-car family, walking a lot, getting the bus as often as possible.

It’s not a holier-than-thou attempt at virtue signalling or a sign of my deep need to look trendy, just common sense.

Still, it strikes me as strictly small potatoes in the titanic battle the planet is engaged in for a safe future.

There is another way, of course, well, at least in theory.

Rather than recycling everything, why don’t we simply stop producing - or using - most of the stuff that needs recycled?

I say this after slicing my finger open last week when trying to peel off the label on an empty tin of garden peas I was about to put in the black box next to the large metal bin in the back garden.

By the following day I was so worried that, perhaps, I really should go check myself into A&E that I went to the pharmacy at Boots to ask their advice.

When I took off the plaster, they didn’t look impressed.

“How did you do this?”

“It was a recycling accident,” I replied.