Imagining a possible future walk through Durham
This is the second of two (or more) blog posts to playfully explore some Green Durham themes connecting what we do today with some glimpses of a possible future. For part 1 of this blog post, click here.
The convoy has passed, and I stroll down the hill as the glistening roof of my local Inn comes into view. They did well in 2021 when they decided to cover the whole of what used to be their car park with solar panels. They saw that the 2020 pandemic would not be the last one and that having outdoor space with a roof over it would be the way forward for a pub. PV panels as roofing that produces electricity with subsidies to help install them – what’s not to like!?
The new tribes of pub goers that emerged in 2021 were: The minority who really like to sit inside; the majority who sit in the sheltered outside area; and the hard core who can’t get enough wind (= less aerosols) with their drinks and like to sit or stand apart from the crowd. It’s good to hear the clinking of bottles being washed as part of the deposit scheme.
The Inn has really embraced the Green Durham way and developed a massive refill centre. Whether it is locally produced oat milk, beer, wine, pop, or juices – they will bottle it for you, deliver it, take the empty bottles and wash them before the merry go round starts over again. It’s a small part but the county-wide deposit scheme has played a part in the epic battle to stop the waste incineration plant in Redcar. And of course, we are still struggling to reduce waste.
Still working out how to compost the massive amounts of plant-based plastics. Nevertheless, once we got started with this campaign in 2021, we already scratched our heads asking ourselves Why has it taken us until now to get a bottle deposit scheme off the ground? How could we ever think it made any sense to produce single use glass bottles, with their content gone with one meal only to then melt them down and mould each bottle anew?
But first a swim in the river Browney. What a joy! I chat with the other folks from the neighbourhood getting ready for a dip and we reminisce how swimming in the Browney and the Wear were hardly conceivable in 2020. Polluted water, plastic bags dangling like sad Christmas decorations from the bushes at the banks, and all the glass and rubbish you’d step into if you were to venture into the water then. How far we’ve come since. Well, it helped that with all the flooding in winters and summer draughts starting in 2021 construction started on the building of water reservoirs into the beds of the rivers. It was an idea with foresight, come to think of it, if not entirely new. Build pools into existing river beds which would serve as reservoirs for agricultural use and some could be used for swimming. And it only disrupted river wildlife in those places, leaving the rest of rivers in their natural states. So, into the fresh water we go!
Refreshed, I head on to the Green Durham Talks. Why today’s meeting really matters to me is because there is a decision to be made whether Green Durham should stop supporting any animal-based produce. The arguments for foods and drinks like oat milk and vegan cheese and those against meat and beef in particular have been going on for decades now. Still, there are fierce arguments over synthetic meat, and whether grass-fed local beef is actually part of local regenerative and sustainable agriculture that we need to support. So plenty to debate, whilst also trying some of the new synthetic meat at the Durham Health Food Shop.Strolling through Durham, 2034 (part 2)