Today we are going to talk about sustainable travel and the impact of our transport choices. Both of us are big fans of travel and the educational and cultural value that it offers, but how do we balance that with the environmental impact?

Join us for the last episode of Season 1 of Green Talking!

 How to listen? Options:

  • Listen to the episode here: GoogleSpotify,  Apple
  • In the player on this page
  • Search ‘Green Talking Sustainable Travel’ on any other preferred platform.

 

All the useful bits to help you get the most out of Green Talking available on this page:

Useful links 

Transcript

Vocabulary

USEFUL LINKS

Our World in Data – Which form of transport has the smallest carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint how to reduce your impact when travelling

The Climate Plan of Rennes

Do you have other relevant resources to share with our listeners? Tell us in the comments!

 

TRANSCRIPT

Cassie: Hi I’m Cassie 

Jennifer: And I’m Jennifer 

Cassie: And you are listening to Green Talking, the podcast helping you learn English for good. 

Jennifer: As always, the podcast text, along with links and the key vocabulary, is available online at greentalk.fr

So today is our last episode of our first season of Green Talking! This is episode six!

Cassie: Gosh, I can’t believe the season’s already over!

Jennifer: I know! So to finish our season, today we are going to talk about sustainable travel. This session links to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. We know that one by now!

Cassie: In a world before COVID-19 travel would often be a part of our everyday lives, and in particular our winter holiday plans. Whether it be driving, taking the bus or cycling to work, or flying or taking the train to visit friends and family, travel is an essential part of how we stay connected. As great as technology is I know I definitely value the time that I have in person with people and can’t wait until we’re able to meet up more in the future.

Jenny: Yeah, especially since I live in France and I’m away from my family who are all in Scotland, I am definitely very conscious about how I travel. Every time I think about going back to Scotland, I have to ask myself: is it best to fly, to drive, to take a boat, take the train? Which option is really best for the environment and how can I make responsible choices when it comes to my travel? So today we are going to look at that in a bit more detail and explore sustainable travel and what that means. Before we get started, shall we have some stats, the last of the season?

Cassie: You know I’m always up for some fun facts!

Jennifer: It’s time for fun facts with Cassie <KLAXON>.

Cassie: Ok fact number one: Transportation accounts for 28% of global carbon emissions  

Jennifer: Yeah so perhaps not too surprising that over a quarter of global carbon emissions come from the transport sector, that’s including cars, trucks, trains, ships, planes, and other vehicles.

Cassie: And when you look at air travel some of the facts are even more stark. This brings me on to fact number two: 1% of people cause half of global aviation emissions, according to a recent study.

Jennifer: This is so fascinating, just 1% of people are responsible for 50% of global aviation emissions. That raises some real questions around policy and how we manage that 1% of people, and also what will happen after Covid, and if we will just see that 1% of people just returning to their habits.

Cassie: Yeah it will be really interesting to see, especially when many of those people were travelling for work. Ok lastly, fact number three: Road vehicles, so cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes – account for nearly three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transport.

Jennifer: Ok interesting. So the situation is that we have a small number of people having a huge impact in terms of flying, and then a huge number of people having a pretty big impact in terms of driving.

Cassie: As we’ve said before travel has become such a central part of our life but, as with anything, I think it’s important to know the difference between different types of travel options and when to use them.

Jennifer: Yeah I totally agree, and I’ve actually come up with a game to help us think about these things. Do you want to play?

Cassie: Of course you have and yes, I mean is that even a question?

Jennifer: Ok so what I’m going to do is give you the option of a few different ways of travelling and you have to guess which emits the least amount of carbon. Ok? So, Paris to London by car or by plane? Which emits the least amount of carbon?

Cassie: Hmmm I’d probably actually take the train but that’s not one of your options. So, I’m going to go plane? I mean, It’s only a quick flight.

Jennifer: So, as you might imagine, there’s a little bit more to it than a simple question – of course depends on how many people are in the car, and what type of car, the age of the car, etc etc; BUT I am actually going to give you an answer here for once – for a relatively short journey like this, it is definitely better to drive, and if you can car share then that’s even better! So in this situation the car is definitely better than the plane. Ok. So next question.

Inverness, in the north of Scotland, to Rome in Italy– same question, car or plane?

Cassie: Ok, so I feel like, knowing you, this is probably another one of your trick questions, but if I had to guess, I’m going to say car?

Jennifer: So yep, here, it is actually better to go by plane. Once we reach around 1000km, it starts to be a good idea to consider the plane, compared to a car, and by the time we are at 2000km, even the type of car etc doesn’t really make much difference, it will be better to take the plane. Unless of course your car is electric!  

Ok, next up, ferry or train from Amsterdam in Holland to Stavangar in Norway? Ferry or train?

Cassie: Ferry or train… Maybe ferry?

Jennifer: So this is where it starts to get quite complicated! Some trains are worse than others for example faster trains consume up to four times as much energy. And ferries can vary a lot. Some high-speed ferries use double the fuel of conventional ships, making them several times worse in terms of carbon emissions than planes. And of course it depends how many people are travelling in the ferry or in the train. But for this type of journey, train is definitely better than plane or car, that’s for sure.

But yeah, unfortunately it is just really, really difficult to make these calculations! But they key points are that in a rough order, it’s walking or cycling with the lowest impact, then the train, then car or plane depending on the distance and ferries actually are very varied depending again on the number of passengers, the type of ferry etc. etc. So pretty much in line with what we would expect.

But as with many things the most sustainable mode of transportation is the journey you don’t take, but where is the fun in that?

Cassie: I know, I definitely agree, where is the fun in that? I think it’s important to know the differences in types of travel but not deprive ourselves from travelling.

Jennifer: Yeah we want to encourage travelling because of all the benefits that it brings, but we need to do so in a sustainable way.

Cassie: For sure. For me, travelling has always been a way of not only seeing the world but connecting with family and friends, whether it be in sharing a holiday together or immersing ourselves in a new culture. It’s about finding a balance between seeing a new place and leaving your little corner of the world and respecting the planet and natural resources. I think there is definitely a way to achieve both.

Jennifer: I think there is a real paradox because travelling can really help us to better understand environmental and social issues, and you often hear stories of people who have had a kind of sustainability awakening while they’ve been travelling. And certain travel has been shown to be an effective way to develop sustainable and pro-environmental behaviours. So we are in this strange situation where the very thing that can help us to have a more sustainable mindset actually has a terrible impact on the planet! So how can we get that global perspective, while reducing our carbon footprint?

Cassie: Perhaps there are ways in which we can gain that perspective more locally, maybe we can try to broaden our horizons in our own country. Or of course, like we have both done – move to another country!

Jennifer: Yeah that is definitely such a great way to fully experience a different culture, to actually live somewhere rather than just taking cheap weekend trips all over the place. Living somewhere new allows you to learn about the customs, the language and also actually to learn more about yourself.

Cassie: But sometimes you just don’t have that option, do you? We can talk about a few solutions out there to help people navigate this complicated travel landscape if you’d like.

Jennifer: Yeah I think that would be helpful.

Cassie: There is a rise in companies specialising in green or ‘eco-holidays’. These are companies that are looking to help you reduce your carbon footprint when you travel, particularly if you fly by plane. One of these companies, actually called Carbon Footprint, suggests travelling light, as this reduces the weight of the plane, and thus the fuel usage and carbon emissions. They also suggest travelling non-stop where possible, to avoid multiple take offs and landings, as well as using electronic ticketing where possible.

Jennifer: Mm that’s interesting and travelling without a connection is a good one to remember.

Cassie: Mm, definitely

Jennifer: We know these are only small things but it’s important to think of these little things that we can practically do. However, I do think there is a responsibility on the travel industry and the airlines in particular to give the consumers as many options as possible.

Cassie: Definitely. And it’s encouraging to see the travel industry making those options available for travellers. For example Airbus is currently investing money in developing a zero-emission aircraft with a view to bring it into service in 2035.

Jennifer: Oh, zero emissions air travel! Could you imagine that? But 2035 is a long way away still.

Cassie: Yes it is, but it’s exciting that the industry is taking steps in the right direction.

Jennifer: Yeah, it’s a start. So let’s think back to the fact that road travel actually has the biggest impact, three quarters of the emissions from the transport sector. What can consumers do, and how can we make some small shifts that can really make a change?

Cassie: Well, the easiest and most impactful thing we can do is carsharing! It can help us to drive less, own fewer cars, save money and meet like-minded people.  

Jennifer: So I am a HUGE fan of car sharing! It is a sustainability triple hit of positive economic, environmental and social impact! I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve saved money, I’ve travelled across France. I love car sharing. The great thing is that it can be really flexible, and it can work really well with other forms of sustainable transport, so it can help people get to the train, bus or metro station for example. And Rennes, where I live actually has a local climate plan objective where they are trying to encourage car sharing one day a week by 2024. I really like that as a concrete way for people to understand what they can do at their level. And of course the infrastructure has to be there to support people to make that shift, make sure that they can access the services that they need to, but I think that represents the kind of mindset we should have and what we should be aiming for as consumers. So carsharing one day a week in the next few years really.  

And I think another key point is that, as with many of the subjects we have talked about throughout this season, it’s getting that balance between changing our habits and still having treats.

Cassie: What do you mean?

Jennifer: So there are small things that we can do in our everyday lives that can add up to having a big impact, without really changing the way that we live. So for example, walking to work, cycling to visit friends, car sharing regularly, eating a bit less meat, unsubscribing from emails, not buying cheap t-shirts….. all those little changes we can make that don’t really reduce our quality of life at all. And perhaps then we can allow ourselves those conscious treats when we understand their impact, but we understand their value as well – it makes them all the more special. Flying home at Christmas to visit family, visiting another part of the world, sharing a cheese fondue with close friends, Christmas dinner…. Those are the special moments that make life that bit more magical, and I think when you make those kind of choices consciously, understanding their impact, they become even more meaningful.

And I’m not saying by any means that these acts don’t have a negative environmental impact, because of course they do – but our role as consumers is to make the changes that we can within reason, while also putting pressure on the big companies to keep us informed with clear data, and make the technical advances to help us get to zero carbon as soon as possible, while still being able to increase our quality of life.

Cassie: It’s that idea of a personal carbon quota – we need to all do everything we can to reduce our environmental impact as low as possible, and it is not about doing everything 100% of the time, it’s about doing the things that work for you in the way that works for you – celebrating the steps that you do take, and not feeling guilty for the impact that you have. Celebrate the wins and don’t panic about the impact. By taking small steps, it will become part of your everyday habits, which will be more sustainable in the long term and help you to shift your mindset to be more conscious.

Jennifer: Yeah definitely, celebrating the wins and not panicking about the negative impact. Just doing what we can within reason really. And of course, we need to keep talking about all of these issues so that we better understand them

Cassie: Exactly. So that actually brings us towards the end of our episode today as well as the end of our first season! We’ll be back with season 2 in the new year. Thanks for joining this episode of Green Talking, the podcast helping you learn English for Good. We’ll link to all of the topics discussed today in the podcast notes but we’re really keen to hear from you. How have you made a change after today’s podcast? What have you learned? What would you like us to talk about next? You can join the conversation on social media, we’re at @greentalkfr. And we look forward to you joining us next season.

Jennifer: Thanks for listening! And my final catchphrase of the season….!

Get out the car and get walking, you’ve been listening to Green Talking.

Cassie: I really like that one! Good… I feel like you’re getting better as the season goes. Bye!

Jennifer: Bye!

 

VOCABULARY

cycling => the sport of traveling on a bicycle or motorcycle
stark => complete or extreme
travelling => the act of going from one place to another
lastly => the item at the end
vary => make or become different in some particular way.
deprive => take away; prevent from having
paradox => a statement that contradicts itself
awakening => an act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something.
mindset => the established set of attitudes held by someone
perspective => noun the appearance of things relative to one another as determined by their distance from the viewer; a way of regarding situations or topics etc.
broaden => extend in scope or range or area
helpful => providing assistance or serving a useful function
airlines => companies that provide air transport services for traveling passengers and goods
aircraft – a vehicle that can fly
like-minded => having similar tastes or opinions
magical => beautiful or delightful in a way that seems removed from everyday life.

consciously => with awareness
meaningful => serious, important or worthwhile
quota => a limitation or restriction assigned to each participant; a prescribed number
panic => an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety

 

Today’s episode of Green Talking is a little different, as we are going to discuss COP26, the international climate event due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland. We talk about some of the amazing energy initiatives happening in Scotland, and also take the opportunity to share some cultural insight into one of the most beautiful and friendliest countries in the world (okay, maybe we are biased…!).

We are delighted to have had information provided by the Scottish Government Hub in Paris for this episode! 

 How to listen? Options:

  • Listen to the episode here: GoogleSpotify,  Apple
  • In the player on this page – click it now to read the text at the same time as listening!
  • Search ‘Green Talking COP26’ on any other preferred platform.

 

All the useful bits to help you get the most out of Green Talking available on this page:

Useful links

Transcript

Vocabulary

 

Scottish Government Hub in Paris

COP26 website

Scottish Government Climate Change policy

Do you have other relevant resources to share with our listeners? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Hi I’m Jennifer

Cassie: And I’m Cassie

Jennifer: And you are listening to Green Talking, the podcast helping you learn English for good. As always, the podcast text, along with links and the key vocabulary, are available online at greentalk.fr

Cassie: Today’s episode is a little different, we want to discuss the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. COP actually means ‘Conference of the Parties’ and so this topic links in many ways to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17 – Partnership for the Goals.

COP 26 was originally due to be held right now, in November 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland, and it has been rescheduled to 2021. This conference is to be the first « global stocktake, » or review, that was outlined in the 2015Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was a commitment which brought together all nations to deliver ambitious efforts to combat climate change internationally.

Jennifer: Here at Green Talk we are passionate about taking action to help the planet and therefore we’re particularly interested in COP26 as it is an opportunity to bring together people from all over the world to discuss climate change. COP26 is not only important on the global stage but it’s also important to me personally as it’s taking place in Scotland, where I’m from!

Cassie: Yes and Scotland has a special place in my heart as well as it’s where I went to university.

Jennifer: Yup Cassie and I are friends from university and although neither of us live in Scotland anymore it will still always be home. That’s why I’m really excited that COP26 is happening in my home country and it’s a great opportunity for people all over the world to learn more about the green initiatives that are happening in Scotland.

Cassie: There really are loads of exciting projects happening, many of them funded by Scottish Government. We’re really delighted that the Scottish Government Hub in Paris has provided us with information on the initiatives that we will be talking about today.

Jennifer: As the largest event of this nature ever to be held in the UK, Scotland welcomes the opportunity to show our exceptional landscapes, venues, hospitality, culture and overall to ensure that COP 26 visitors experience the best of a Scottish welcome. This will help to deliver a legacy of climate change awareness in Scotland and beyond.

 

The nation is keen to play its part in hosting the climate change negotiations and provides the perfect location, as the event will be hosted in Glasgow, a city with ambitious climate change plans and loads of amazing projects already happening!

 

Cassie: So to better understand the COP26 context, should we have some stats? 

 

Jennifer: Yes we should! It’s time for fun facts with Cassie 

 

Cassie: So fact number one: Scotland has 25% of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal resource

 

Jennifer: So having spent 27 years of my life cycling along windy Scottish roads, I am not surprised. There is a lot of wind but I love that we can see a potentially negative weather issue as actually a positive resource!

 

Cassie: Definitely. Ok so on to fact number two: The Scottish Government is fully committed to its green energy targets to reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045.

 

Jennifer: So net zero by 2045 that means within one generation Scotland will no longer be contributing to the causes of climate change. That’s pretty cool.

 

Cassie: Yeah it’s a really amazing commitment by the government. So fact number three: The current mix of renewable electricity  capacity in Scotland is now nearly 12 gigawatts, the sector is over three times bigger than it was at the end of 2009.

 

Jennifer: Wow! So three times bigger than it was in 2009. That’s amazing! Let’s hope we can keep it up.

 

Cassie: Definitely. Ok fact number four: Orkney islands produces 120% of their electricity from the wind, sun, waves and the tide and have become self-sufficient year-round in electricity.

 

Jennifer: Wow so the Orkney islands are self-sufficient all year in electricity, that’s a great achievement.

 

Cassie: Yeah for sure. So last fact from me, fact number five: 97% of community energy projects which make it to the planning stage are given approval. This is higher than the rate for private projects.

 

Jennifer: Ok, so what that means is that when local citizens are involved in a project, it has more chances of success than a project which is delivered by a private company.  So it’s really important to involve local people in developing these projects.

 

So we’ve seen there are so many energy related things happening in Scotland. In addition to all the awesome environmental facts would you like to hear some cultural facts about Scotland?

 

Cassie: Yes, absolutely! Got to love a good bagpipe.

 

Jennifer: So fact number one: traditional country dancing is taught at primary school and all Scottish people know how to perform. At most formal events you will see men in kilts, of course, and everybody takes part in these dances. You’ve actually tried this dancing, haven’t you?

Cassie: Yes I have actually! There were a few at university and every time I go to a wedding in Scotland they have a traditional dance as part of the party.

 

Jennifer: Yeah it’s essential at any gathering. Ok next fact: Scotland is known for some amazing inventions such as the bicycle, the TV and the telephone

 

Cassie: So no TV, calling home or using a bike as an alternative mode of transportation without Scotland. I hadn’t realised how much came from Scotland actually.

 

Jennifer: And that’s just the beginning of the list. Next fact: Scotland boasts 790 islands, only 130 of which are inhabited.

 

Cassie: Wow 790 islands! I think that’s more than there are actually in the Bahamas, a place that is known for the islands.

 

Jennifer: And just as beautiful. So Scottish culture has always been innovative, inventive and inclusive, we can see the very isolated nature of many of the island communities. There is therefore a real challenge and a real opportunity in finding solutions to the current environmental and social challenges that we are facing today. The Scottish Government has set extremely ambitious targets for carbon emissions and renewable energy and COP26 offers a real potential to transition to a net-zero world in a way that is fair and just. We must leave no one behind, incorporating the true Scottish values of innovation, inclusion and of course respect for our beautiful natural environment. The Scottish Government hopes that COP26 will be an inclusive event where all voices can be heard in a respectful and collaborative way. 

 

Cassie: So you said there, ‘COP 26 can support global efforts to transition to a net-zero world in a way that is fair and just. We must leave no one behind’. That really resonates with me but what does that  actually mean in practice? I think it would maybe be good to look at some examples to find out a bit more!

 

CASE STUDY 1:

 

Jennifer: Yeah for sure.

 

Cassie: So first up, as you said, Scotland is known for its beautiful wild landscapes and that’s definitely something I remember from my time at university. And lots of people in Scotland live in remote, rural areas. A lot of these island communities actually do not have access to the national electricity grid, we call these ‘off-grid’ communities.

 

Over the past few years, seven island communities have been working together to share challenges and solutions for their unique energy situation.

 

Jennifer: Yep, so the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna, Foula and Fair Isle have all been sharing knowledge, expertise and resources to develop a programme with specific recommendations. The seventh community is not actually an island, but the village of Knoydart this very remote peninsula is only accessible by boat, or by a 16-mile walk through rough countryside, and the local roads are not actually connected to the UK road system. So remote is definitely the word. These communities have been collaborating closely with a number of universities and public authorities. This is helping them to find technical, practical solutions on their journeys to carbon zero!

 

And what we particularly love about this project is that it is totally community led, very much driven by the local people.

 

Cassie: Yeah exactly completely driven by those local people. This isn’t a private company doing something ‘to’ these communities, it’s very much led by the communities in partnership with companies and the public sector – an inclusive, fair and just way to transition to net-zero.

 

Jennifer: Totally! And like many of the best ideas, some projects are just started by a few friends in the local pub – which are often the heart of these remote communities.

 

Cassie: Yes, the pub is more than just somewhere for a drink, it is a key place for socialising in many communities, and of course whisky is one of Scotland’s biggest industries. There are actually some really interesting projects happening in this sector too!

 

The whisky industry is fully committed to achieving net zero, and actually the sector’s non-fossil fuel target was achieved four years early reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 22%.

 

And there are loads of amazing ways this is happening!

 

Jennifer: Yeah so some distilleries are installing biomass power plants which generate energy from whiskey byproducts. One particular project combines heat and power plants in Speyside, where they will produce energy to power 9,000 homes, from material that would otherwise have gone to waste!

 

And Brewdog, the beer company are doing something similar, All of the waste grain products is now turned into green gas. They work with a local partner in East of Scotland near Aberdeen who turns the used barley into green gas, renewable vehicle fuel and organic fertilizers.

 

And that’s not all, in the alcohol sector, in making gin there are new technologies that are helping to make the sector more environmentally friendly. In Orkney, a gin distillery is studying an option to use hydrogenem as fuel to decarbonise the distilling process in gin making. Working with the local marine energy centre, 100% renewable energy will be used to create hydrogen fuel and develop a fully carbon zero system. Imagine that, carbon zero gin.

 

Cassie: That’s amazing. And that is in the Orkney islands, where we heard that 120% of the electricity demand is created from renewable resources, right?

 

Jennifer: Yep, same place here are amazing things happening there!

 

Cassie: And it’s so nice to think about the impact that these projects will have on consumers. We have mentioned many times in our podcasts the importance of being informed in our purchases, and it is great to think that soon we will be able to choose from many carbon zero options when we are doing our shopping or in the local pub!

 

And so for our final project, let’s think about urban communities in very densely populated areas.

 

Jennifer: Because we have talked a lot about remote isolated areas but we must leave no-one behind.

 

Cassie: Exactly! So there are loads of great projects in urban areas, but let’s look at one that is very low-tech. In Glasgow, home of COP26, there is a community organisation which works in partnership with residents and the wider community to help improve the area, particularly through gardening. The project increases energy awareness and helps people learn more about growing food and reducing the amount of waste that we produce. A recent project has converted an old tennis court into a community garden, to allow people to connect with gardening and produce local food!

 

Jennifer: Cool so the garden is now available to local people?

 

Cassie: Yep exactly, it’s a real hub which has educational and social benefit, particularly in an area where very few people have access to a garden.

 

 

Jennifer: That’s so cool. Aw we could continue talking about all the amazing projects in Scotland for hours, but we are out of time!

 

So, what have you learned from today’s episode Cassie?

 

Cassie: So I think these examples show that the best sustainability projects are not just about the environment but about the social impact and the opportunities to be really inclusive. Whether you live in a remote island or in the city centre, there are so many amazing solutions out there.

 

Jennifer: For sure. Yeah the transition to net zero really needs everyone to work together, to play their part, to be creative and to support others. Do you know what, it’s just like a good traditional Scottish dance – it only works if we all do our bit! [BAGPIPES]

 

Cassie: Yeah that is so true. Thanks for joining this episode of Green Talking, the podcast helping you learn English for Good. We’ll link to all of the topics discussed today in the podcast notes but we’re really keen to hear from you! How have you made a change after today’s podcast? What have you learned? What would you like us to talk about next? You can join the conversation social media. You can find us on all platforms at @greentalkfr. And we look forward to you joining us next time!

Jennifer: Thanks for listening! And my catchphrase of the week today is:

“From Glasgow to Aberdeen

Let’s get talking green”

Cassie: Ok actually I kind of like that.

Jennifer: Yes! Success! See you next time.

Cassie: Bye!

Jennifer: Bye!

 

VOCABULARY

stocktake => a review

outlined => defined
internationally => adv. throughout the world
exceptional => better than common or usual or expected
hospitality => kindness in welcoming guests or strangers
legacy => what is left by something or someone
offshore => away from land
tidal => relating to or caused by the sea
renewable => adj. capable of being renewed; replaceable; that can be renewed or extended
gigawatts – unit of measuring energy – kilowatt, megawatt, gigawatt.
self-sufficient => able to provide for your own needs without help from others
year=>round => operating or continuing throughout the year
achievement => the action of accomplishing something
bagpipe => a wind instrument; the traditional instrument of Scotland
inhabited => lived in
inventive => creativity in thought or action
inclusive => including everyone or everything; and especially including stated limits
net-zero => refers to achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere.
grid => national energy network

peninsula => a large mass of land which extends into a body of water
accessible => easy to reach

rough => not perfected; lacking refinement or finesse; irregular
countryside => rural regions
socialising => the act of meeting for social purposes
biomass => plant materials and animal waste used as fuel
grain => a small, hard seed, especially the seed of a food plant such as wheat, corn, rye, oats, rice, or millet.
barley => a widely distributed cereal plant, used as food and in making beer, ale, and whiskey.

decarbonise => remove carbon from (.
densely => in a concentrated manner

Today we are going to talk about fast fashion and the impact of our clothing choices. There are loads of things that we can do as consumers to have a more positive impact, but also a lot happening at the industry level. We will share some great initiatives and some concrete actions that we can all take.

 How to listen? Options:

  • Listen to the episode here: GoogleSpotify,  Apple
  • In the player on this page – click it now to read the text at the same time as listening!
  • Search ‘Green Talking Fast Fashion’ on any other preferred platform.

 

All the useful bits to help you get the most out of Green Talking available on this page:

Useful links

Transcript

Vocabulary

 

Useful links

Good on You app for understanding the impact of your wardrobe

Swapsy app for clothes exchange

30wears website for the #30wears challenge

WWF Cotton Industry Facts

5 crazt facts about the fashion industry

Other resources not mentioned in the episode:

Vinted website for reselling clothes in France

Do you have other relevant resources to share with our listeners? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

transcript

Cassie: Hi I’m Cassie 

Jennifer: And I’m Jennifer 

Cassie: And you are listening to Green Talking, the podcast helping you learn English for good. 

Jennifer: As always, the podcast text, along with links and the key vocabulary, is available online at greentalk.fr

Today we are going to talk about fast fashion. This session, once again, links to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12. That’s Responsible Consumption and Production. So what is fast fashion?

Cassie: Fast fashion is often defined as an approach to the design, creation and marketing of clothing that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.

 

Jennifer: So that basically means buying clothes because we want to be fashionable and not because we need them.

 

Cassie: Yep, and an industry which is specifically designed to constantly change what is fashionable, so that as soon as we buy something, it’s already ‘last season’!

 

So to better understand the subject, should we have some stats? 

 

Jennifer: Yeah! It’s time for fun facts with Cassie!

 

Cassie: Ok so there are a lot of facts in here so bear with me but I think it’s all really important to tell the whole story about fast fashion. So fact number one: Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester, which is now the most commonly used fibre in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.’

 

Jennifer: 200 years for polyester to decompose. That means the fibres of that shiny silver t-shirt I had in the year 1999 those fibres still exist somewhere on the planet! That t-shirt should never have existed in the first place.

 

Cassie: Yup that Britney Spears t-shirt is still knocking about.

 

Fact number two: 20,000 litres. That’s the amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cotton; which is equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans, or to put that into context the amount of water one person drinks in 5-6 years.

 

Jennifer: Yeah that is crazy. So more water has been used creating my current wardrobe than I will drink in my entire lifetime. Yeah wow.

 

Cassie: Yup. Fact number three: One-in-six people work in the global fashion industry.’

 

Jennifer: Wow! One-in-six people work in the world work in fashion. Yeah this is a huge industry really is at an enormous scale.

 

Cassie: Fact number four: The apparel and footwear industries together account for more than 8% of global climate emissions, greater than all international flights and maritime shipping trips combined.

 

Jennifer: Yeah so once again that helps to understand the scale of this problem.

 

Cassie: Yup and this problem isn’t going away. So Fashion’s consumption of resources – especially water and oil – is projected to double by 2030. This is seen in the production of the raw material, such as cotton, as well as in the creation of garments in factories across the world.  

 

Jennifer: So consumption of resources is going to double in the next ten years. So what can we do to help this? How should we be changing?

 

Cassie: So as we hear, cotton uses a lot of resource to manufacture. Most people probably haven’t heard of the Higgs Material Sustainability Index.

 

Jennifer: The Higgs Material Sustainability Index.

 

Cassie: Rolls right off the tongue. It’s a tool that scores the environmental impacts of materials used, with the intention to find more sustainable materials. So it’s a tool that people who are accessing fashion or creating fashion can use to compare different types of material.

 

So for example on thing that it is shows is that a piece of clothing made from recycled cotton will be more sustainable than one made from organic cotton. Also there are many alternatives to cotton but it’s understanding what they are and which clothes they are in. ‘Good On You’ is also an app which rates the sustainability of different clothing brands, as well as the cost. Tools like these are great because they help the consumer make their own decisions.

 

Jennifer: Yeah definitely and once again. We say this in many of our podcasts it’s about being informed, about having that knowledge, having that understanding. That’s a great example that recycled cotton is more sustainable than organic cotton. And I think just having those conversations and discussing those kind of pieces of information is really helpful and it’s great that there is apps to help the consumer make those choices

 

Cassie: Definitely and in addition to the different materials that make clothes, it’s important to think of the life cycle of clothing. Fashion brands continue to use far more virgin resources than recycled ones.

 

Jennifer: So this means that a raw material is created or mined and then used for the single purpose of making one piece of clothing right?

Cassie: Yup exactly so at the moment the way that the system is designed is for clothing to be used normally in quite a linear way: fibre is produced, it’s made into clothing, the clothing is used and then after use it is often sent to a landfill. Only about 1% of textile waste is actually recycled and at the moment it takes about 12 years to recycle what is created by the fast fashion industry in 48 hours.

 

Jennifer: So everyone is buying these products that have been made from raw materials. They are wearing them a couple of times and then they dispose of them and it takes 12 years to recycle something that is made in 48 hours. That’s… yeah that’s depressing.

 

Cassie: It really is. With this in mind I think it’s important to be conscience about the clothes we buy and how often we use them. There was a campaign going around Twitter called #30Wears. And this is a campaign that asks you to ask yourself- will I wear this at least 30 times? And if the answer is no, then ask yourself why are you buying it?

 

Another option when it comes to fast fashion is to buy second hand. And I don’t just mean charity shops and vintage shops. There are also lot of great initiatives trying to connect consumers to products. One of these in the UK is called ‘Swapsy’, it’s like Tinder, but for second hand clothes:

 

Jennifer: Swipe right for a sweater!

 

Cassie: Exactly. It connects people to different products that they could use. And ties into the way that people live through different digital means.

 

Jennifer: Yeah and it’s adding a fun element as well. It’s just trying to get people engaged and trying to think about things differently. Again, changing that system. And then we also have clothes swaps that are really popular. Essentially an opportunity for people to meet in person and swap clothes. And it’s something that you can easily set up yourself.

 

And actually there’s loads of companies, private companies that are really trying to do things differently. Patagonia, for example is well known for their advertising approach – you may remember a few years ago they had an advert that said ‘don’t buy this jacket’?. And they actively encouraged people to reduce their consumption habits, and to question whether they really need something new. Whether they need to buy a new jacket.

 

And even though it is still an advertisement, they are still advertising a product, it’s making people question things, and just think differently and ultimately that is what we are really trying to do, just question the system.  

 

And Loom, a French company that are do something a bit different as well. Their products are designed to last and designed to have a really low carbon impact. They want you to buy one product and keep it for as long as possible. But they remind that you are better buying one H&M t-shirt than two Loom t-shirts. The most sustainable piece of clothing is the one you don’t buy!

 

Cassie: Exactly. And it’s like everything we’ve talked about, we still need to dress ourselves, and enjoy doing it. It’s just about being informed.

 

Jennifer: So we’ve talked about water use, we’ve talked about resource use, thinking about that cotton use, we’ve talked a little bit about marketing, and what about the actual emissions, the carbon emissions, the greenhouse gas emissions, that are produced by creating clothing

 

Cassie: Levi, Strauss & Co, announced a climate change action plan recently with science based targets.The company plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% across its global supply chain by 2025, which is a really ambitious target. But it is also really important that it’s not just looking at the shops or the buildings that they own but it’s looking at all elements of the process from end to end. In addition they also plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all of their owned-and-operated facilities, which will be achieved by investing in onsite renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades. It will be interesting to see what other brands do or if they do something similar.

 

Jennifer: Yeah and I think as well it’s important to think about what that means in reality and particularly with the fashion industry to keep green washing in mind and there is a lot of excellent targets that are spoken about and now we just need to see action.

 

Cassie: Yeah it’s really about changing the way the sector thinks about things. A sector that is so focused on the latest trend, the latest fashion, how can that be fed back into the system.

 

Jennifer: Yeah definitely and we do still want to celebrate those and designers and support that art and try and find a way to change the system so that it just becomes less destructive and has a more positive impact. And we are starting things being done a little bit differently, for example the Italian Ministry of Environment actually works with the UN to develop a ‘Green Fashion Week’. And this is just thinking about things differently, illustrating how fashion brands are already setting the path, already thinking about new ways of doing things and finding new business models that just have a more positive impact.

 

Cassie: Wow ok so I feel like we have had loads of <KLAXON> facts today!

 

Jennifer: Yeah there’s definitely a lot of information out there and there is a good awareness of this issue in the sector and change is definitely underway.

Personally I think we have to acknowledge that clothing is kind of essential!

 

Cassie: Definitely

 

Jennifer: We want to keep clothing. And not only that but it can be a form of art and expression, and of course it has the potential to provide employment. Remember 1 in 6 people in the world works in the fashion industry, it just needs to be done in a sustainable way and that is not happening at the moment. But it’s a creative industry, so we should be able to think of creative solutions. These are creative artists who are involved in this industry. What about like clothing that is designed to be repurposed, or seeing more items that are designed to be worn in multiple ways? Finding ways to make clothing cool and multi-functional and repurposable. Is that a word? Repurposable? [no it is not a word!]

 

Cassie: It can be.

 

Jennifer: It can be. Repurposable clothing. Like.. I don’t know, winter gloves that can than be changed into a summer hat or something! The industry is creative, I really hope they will rise to the challenge and I’m excited to see what they come up with!

 

Cassie: I’m all for repurposing clothing but there is no way I’m ever going to be wearing those trousers that also convert in to shorts with the zip off bottoms. I think that’s a trend that can be left to someone else.

I think this all comes down to the fact that as consumers we have a real role to play in this. Questioning where our clothing comes from and what has been involved in creating it is a real way we can make a difference.

 

So that brings us towards the end of our episode today. Thanks for joining this episode of Green Talking, the podcast helping you learn English for Good. We’ll link to all of the topics discussed today in the podcast notes but we’re really to keen to hear from you! How have you made a change after today’s podcast? What have you learned? What would you like us to talk about next? You can join the conversation on social media, we’re at @greentalkfr . And we look forward to you joining us next week!

Jennifer: Thanks for listening! And my catchphrase of the week, I know this is your favourite part of the episode Cassie, my catchphrase of the week today:

Where have you been, you should be talking green!

 

Cassie: Ok… I feel like we’re getting there. Bye!

Getting there? Getting better…maybe?!

Jennifer: See you next time!

 

VOCABULARY

cheaply => with little expenditure of money;
fashionable =>being or in accordance with current social trends;
decompose => separate (substances) into constituent elements or parts; break down; lose a stored charge, magnetic flux, or current
t-shirt => a close-fitting pullover shirt
lifetime => the period during which something is functional
apparel => clothing in general
footwear => covering for a person’s feet; clothing worn on a person’s feet
maritime => to or involving ships or shipping or navigation
shipping => conveyance provided by the ships belonging to one country or industry; the commercial enterprise of moving goods and materials
helpful => showing a willingness to cooperate;.
virgin =>  being used or worked for the first time;

mined => extracted from a source from the earth
landfill => the disposal of waste material by burying it “landfill sites”
depressing => causing sadness, depression
vintage => old
sweater – a piece of clothing covering the upper part of the body
swap => an equal exchange
advertising – promotion, publicity of some product or service
advertisement => promotion, publicity of some product or service

advert => promotion, publicity of some product or service
upgrades => a new version, improved model, etc.:
trend – what is popular at a given time
underway => currently in progress
acknowledge => to admit to be real or true
repurposed => to adapt or utilize (something) for a new purpose

repurposable – word invented by Jennifer!

trousers => Also called pants. a usually loose-fitting outer garment for the lower part of the body
zip => a fastener for clothes