Shaking a bucket doesn’t make me Greta Thunberg


A restaurant’s ‘carbon neutrality’ strategy recently had Andrew Livingston exasperated – all he wanted was a pleasant evening out

I like to think of myself as climate conscious. I recycle, I switch lights off and I don’t buy avocados. I wouldn’t, however, call myself an eco warrior – I’m yet to glue myself to the A303 with hopes of slowing down a few campervans.
Although I dream of a future where my children can breathe fresh air (and haven’t had to emigrate to Mars for salvation from the burning inferno formerly known as Earth), I recently found one business’s ‘climate action’ infuriating. More than infuriating. Safe to say… it pi**ed me off.
With a rare child-free weekend, my partner and I went away for a short break in Herefordshire. Not knowing the area, we naturally scoured the internet, perusing restaurant menus for a place to eat. We soon came across what looked like a beautiful restaurant: there were only about three items on the menu so we knew straight away it was probably too expensive for a poor farmer such as myself. However, the menu and the setting were enticing. We were excited to dress up – and attempt to remove the general smell of animals’ excrement that, like most farmers, usually follows me day to day like a … bad smell.
I was just about to click ‘book’ when I noticed the fine print at the bottom of the menu. I read it again, and told my partner not to worry about dusting off her heels:
“In our bid to become carbon neutral by the end of 2022, we add a £1.50 Green Community Donation to your bill which will be used to support green projects in local communities, villages and schools throughout Herefordshire.”

What if the farmers did it?
I’ll admit, it instantly grated on me. Why should the customer be paying extra in order for a business to become carbon neutral? Can a business really claim they are carbon neutral if they aren’t footing the bill themselves? And how does donating to local projects – lovely though they may be – aid the business in carbon neutrality anyway?
I’ve jangled collection buckets in front of people’s faces, but that didn’t make me Greta Thunberg.
On further inspection, the website states that customers can further ‘offset the carbon footprint for their meal’. By paying even more, obviously.
I’ll readily admit I may be not the normal clientele for this restaurant, but surely I’m not wrong to say that customers shouldn’t be covering the bill for climate change?
I wonder what the public’s opinion would be if we farmers started raking up all the prices of food in order to meet our targets of becoming carbon neutral? Though of course farmers rarely get to dictate the price of their food – that is controlled by the supermarkets.
Farmers are already making little money during a horrific period of transition for the industry. And yet we still get the food onto the plates of the public – and all while working towards offsetting our carbon. We don’t take money from the consumer to do the right thing. We just … do the right thing – even if it’s at our own expense.
Safe to say, my partner and I ate at a place called The Cider Barn. It was lovely. And yes, it was much more our style.

Sponsored by Trethowans – Law as it should be


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