Hannah, Laura and I have been working together for a few weeks, preparing to promote the 10:10 campaign to our local community.
It was a great pleasure to visit the 10:10 office in Camden last week and meet the team who are running this amazing initiative, many of them volunteers and all of them incredibly committed to inspiring the public at large to make personal commitments to combat dangerous climate change. They kindly lent me a 2-metre high 10:10 banner and gave us lots of handouts and even the coveted 10:10 tags to sign up lots of new recruits.
Yesterday, we spent 8 hours in Waitrose, chatting about climate change and this simple pledge to cut 10% of our carbon emissions right now, in 2010. This certainly improved our sales techniques, to the point that I could now sell "The Big Issue" if things go wrong on the domestic front.
There is definitely a 'fear factor' to be overcome when talking to the public and you have just milliseconds to allay their suspicions and convince them that you're not after their money or their time and that you're not going to sell their email address to spam marketing outfits!
In our experience, many people who got as far as understanding what 10:10 means were happy to sit down at our laptop and add their name to our campaign. The only disappointment was the number of shoppers who support the idea of 10:10 but do not use email. We did keep their telephone numbers, to invite them to be part of the sustainability group that we plan to set up in our local community as a result of yesterday's promotion.
We are incredibly grateful to Waitrose for their hospitality in allowing us to talk to their customers in the comfort of the store. We are also grateful to Julian, Shaun and Theo who gave their time yesterday to catch people's eyes and charm them into hearing what 10:10 is about.
Many lovely people signed up on the spot, or went away with literature and agreed to sign up online later. Some told us that what we were doing was important and worthwhile, for which we were grateful.
A few were forthright in telling us what's really going on!
One gentleman explained that it's the human population that has gotten out of control (I'm with him so far) and that this has shifted the Earth on its axis, resulting in the climate getting hotter.
Another said that it's all these damn wars (again, nothing to disagree with to this point) and, now we've pumped all the oil out of the ground, there's nothing left to absorb the noise of all those bombs and they are warming the planet by ringing it like a bell.
Other than these contrarian theories, the only objections to the idea of 10:10 came from serving and retired cabin crew - because the town is not far from Heathrow. In the words of Upton Sinclair, quoted by Al Gore in 'An Inconvenient Truth', "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
Hannah, Laura and I felt privileged to present such an important message to the people of our town and were delighted with the response we received. It was an enlightening way to spend our Saturday and will lead, we hope, to a small reduction in the town's carbon emissions.