19 Jul

“If you’re not fighting climate change or improving the world, you’re wasting your life” – Franny Armstrong

How many of our lovely readers are good old green recyclers? Honestly?

Well according to an article posted in The Guardian in March, as a nation our recycling rates for all municipal waste has risen from just 12% in 2001 to 39% in 2010. This figure is still quite low in comparison with the likes of Austria (62.8%) and Germany (61.8%), but we are on the up and that’s something to be proud of as a country. As a household, I would say we recycle more than the average statistic. Before disposing of anything I check all the small print on the packaging to decipher what is recyclable and what is not. It takes about 30 seconds longer than just disposing of it, however, as time goes on you begin to automatically know what goes in what bin. This also goes for food waste, which by the way I have to say that emptying that bin is one of the most disgusting domestic jobs, but it doesn’t matter to me because if we don’t recycle then we are going to run out of resources and in addition to that, our world will evidently suffer as a result.

I bet you’re wondering how this is relevant to my project on inspirational women of our time; however, a link will be made in due course.

So, I have recently started a job in a well-known gas and electric provider. Some of you may be regarding me as a hypocrite to be harping on about recycling when I work for this company. However, during my training I have learnt more about reducing the carbon footprint than you would realize which leads me on to this weeks modern inspirational female: Franny Armstrong.


image from here

During one of the training sessions, I had to find out about the 10:10 campaign that started back in 2009. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry I didn’t until I had to research into it. In short the 10:10 campaign is basically a national drive to cut carbon emissions by 10% during one year. Now, as a nation we have all heard and read about the importance of recycling and cutting down on energy usage etc. but how many of us have really paid attention?

I hadn’t until I started university and begun to actively begin to recycle and learn the difference between reusable waste and landfill. Anyway, that’s besides the point what I’m trying to say is that we are so overwhelmed by media campaigns about this and that, that it’s really hard to keep track and pay attention to things that matter.

In the 10:10 article I read, Franny Armstrong said “The 10:10 campaign is our opportunity to make the first move and get on with solving the problem of climate change. As well as being achievable for the vast majority of the population, 10% in one year is the kind of cut the science tells us we need.” That line really hit home with me because even though I do recycle, the things I have read and heard about reducing climate change have provided such large, unreachable statistics that the goal just seemed impossible. Nevertheless, the wording used by Franny just puts it straight into perspective, if we concentrate on our own carbon footprint and realize that 10% of our own emissions isn’t actually that hard to reduce. Things like taking the train instead of the bus, walking instead of driving, turning your TV off at the socket, etc. etc. The list of ways you could help is endless and I just sat there and thought to myself what an amazing idea this was and decided to read further into the idea here.

If you take a look on the site you can see some success stories and then just do the math and you can see how all these small contributions from everyone is adding up to become a massive change.

So where did 10:10 begin? Who was the brainbox behind this?


Franny Armstrong was born on 3rd February 1972 and she grew up to study zoology at university before trying it out as a pop drummer. In 1997 she founded her own documentary company called Spanner Films and then went on to direct three documentaries – Drowned Out (2003), McLibel (2005) and then the more recent production, The Age Of Stupid (2009), of which she raised £900,000 from 300+ investors through the crown-funding finance model.

In March 2009, The Age Of Stupid “People’s Premiere” was completely solar-powered and screened in 63 cinemas across Britain. This event received a Guinness World Record for being the largest film premiere ever, based on the number of screens. Carbon Accounting Systems conducted an independent audit and found that the carbon emissions from this event were at an impressive 1% of those produced by a normal blockbuster premiere.

Wow. Just wow.

What an incredible role model for change in our generation! But she hasn’t stopped there.


image from here

On her way to meet Ed Miliband in a debate about climate change, she had a simple yet powerful idea inspired by a George Monbiot article and a Climate Safety Report which basically identified that a 10% cut in emissions by 2010 was the kind of target to be aiming for in order to try and avoid a climate catastrophe.

This is exactly what I was saying at the beginning of the article, 10% by 2010 sounds so much more achievable than 80% by 2050 right?

She dropped the 10:10 into the debate with Miliband and after brainstorming with her team, within weeks it had ignited a nation into a fire of determination. Before she knew it, celebrities, universities, local authorities and whoever else wanted to throw themselves in to support.

The simple yet effective idea was formally launched in September 2009 and within 72 hours more than 10,000 individuals, businesses and schools had signed up. By 2010, most success stories were throwing out reduced figures like 23% and 19% as opposed the aimed 10% which just goes to show that change can happen if you want it to and it also shows that 10% a year is a small aim but after 5 years that’s 50%…

At this moment 10:10 estimates that those involved in the campaign have approximately cut 500,000 tonnes of CO2 and according to the home page of the website there are 121,831 sign-ups in 171 countries which by the time you look it will have probably increased. What an achievement: from a daydreamed idea to a global success in just under 4 years.


image from here

The reason I have chosen Franny Armstrong as this issues modern inspiration is pretty self-explanatory thus far. However, there is another more important reason I have chosen not because of her immense success in bringing about change but her determination to change something that probably won’t drastically affect this generation. We all know that climate change and the dangers surrounding it are prominent in our lifetime, it’s apparent in the bipolar weather we have and the reoccurring natural disasters. Nonetheless, it is not this lifetime that’s in danger, it’s the future generations and the sheer passion she has for making a difference and saving the future of the planet is an absolutely amazing personal quality to hold. She is completely selfless and her simple phrase “cutting carbon 10% at a time” has shown to us all that if we make small alterations to our lifestyles then we can all make an impact because together it is a much larger difference.

For all of you who have read this article, I want to ask a favour…

Please sign up to the 10:10 campaign and even though it doesn’t affect you it will affect future generations. Follow in Franny’s example of making a change today to make way for a better tomorrow.

About the writer: Melody has just finished a degree in Journalism, Film and Media with a 2:1. She aspires to work with vulnerable women and children subject to domestic, and or other forms of abuse. She is an animal lover and has a small obsession with Fearne Cotton. She is a constant joker and can be found on Twitter.


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