> UWE People and Planet: aims, achievements and activities

People and Planet is a national charitable organization for students that cover three major issues that are wrong with our current age and society. World poverty, human rights being exploited, and damage to the environment.

UWE People and Planet is, surprisingly enough, the UWE branch of that organization (who would have thought?) Now, poverty, damage to the environment, and exploitation of human rights are not good, and bar a few minorities, most of us would not wish to let these atrocities carry on, or in fact get worse.

Last year, UWE People and Planet did a lot for this university, with many thanks to the presidency of the former big cheese Lisa Tozer, who has now graduated, and we wish her the best in her future pursuits. But we’re picking on the pieces, and intend to carry on the good name, thanks to our new president Willian Perin. People and Planet was largely active with last years’ welcome weekend. It went on a trip to Copenhagen as part of COP15 to make difference to protect climate change. It sparked interest in the UWESU’s annual general meeting with the ethics of the SU being sponsored by McDonalds, and the selling of bottled water. It ran a free shop in the centre of Broadmead, giving away free merchandise for their Buy Nothing Day. More than not, People and Planet tries to closely work with the student union and the university.

This year we will hopefully be looking at 2 major campaigns: The Bottled Water campaign, promoting awareness about the environment damaging way of ‘recycling’ empty bottles into lower quality material that gets chucked away anyway, severely polluting poor LEDC countries across the globe (and if we’re not careful, MEDC countries like the UK soon enough) and also the truths people don’t want to know (like producing the water product has been known to decrease fertility). The other campaign is Buy Right, taking action against workers being exploited in the workplace.

This is our planet, and we’re slowly destroying it carefree when we waste energy, when we aren’t aware of how what we buy is really produced. We also exploit fellow members of our own race. This world is in a terrible state, and it’s no good sitting back and just saying that, it’s up to us to change that, and we need to make that change happen, we need to feel like we are responsible for any better change that we may produce (fulfilment, if anything).

Because eventually, it will be too late, and we will ultimately pay the price for the negligence in caring for this world. You may think it sounds silly, but just picture a world where the air is so toxic, we have to live underground, or human rights get so exploited that there is no one left on Earth to fight for us. If we turn an ignorant blind eye to human rights being mistreated, when we’re the ones exploited and need help, why should anyone want to help us? When our air gets too foul because of the pollution that factors emit when they (or so they claim) ‘recycle’ empty water/soda bottles, what then? This future is not too unrealistic; we’re heading in that direction.

We need to stop our conformist patterns of being lured into fake appeal, or the evils of brand names. Each of us are probably guilty of it in a way, and it doesn’t make us bad people, what with the sheer force and overexposure of everything around us, that’s why People and Planet is there to provide awareness as a counter measure. I mean how many people out there really know that it’s actually better for you to drink tap water from a public toilet sink, than it is for you to buy brand name bottled water? We need to start thinking for ourselves, not just doing what we’re told or feel we have to go with. We’re all individuals, capable of so much just by ourselves; imagine what we could be if we all worked together, but more importantly… wanted to work together out of choice.

I know, most of you are probably groaning right now. But this is a chance to meet likeminded people, and feel as if you’re actually working towards a difference in this reality, you made something happen, you influenced a great change. The skills and confidence you will get from protests and campaigning actually help you in the long run.

I say all this now because not many people may have seen us at the fresher’s fair, due to us being tucked away in the corner, overshadowed by the mass propaganda and overwhelming force of Domino’s Pizza directly in people’s faces, but we aim to outreach. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

However, I am not here to say you have to, and rightly so. Because in the end, I’m promoting choice and independent thoughts, and people need to want to save this planet, the environment, and the people on it, it needs to come from them, and that mentality is respected. People that help are people that REALLY want to help. If it feels right, if it feels natural, flow with it. But if it feels wrong, you don’t have to go along with anything, you can make a stand.

But together, we can do it. We can make this planet what we want it to be, a nice, clean, safe place to live. It requires our efforts, but I have the upmost faith in that.

But it’s the people that are an important component to this change.

We meet at Cafe Kino in Stokes’ Croft (U1, U2 route before entering city centre), Tuesday at 6:30pm.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to pester uwepeopleandplanet@yahoo.com

We don’t want a bad future, and we’re not going to let it happen.

And remember, if one person can challenge fixed patterns; imagine what several of us could do together.

Jay Copping