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A conversation with Jenny Bailey, children’s author, about making people aware of their environment from an early age. You’ve heard of Black Friday, but did you know it’s Green Jumper Day as well? We’ll be talking about that too.

Hello. I'm Anthony Day and welcome to this week’s Wednesday Interview from the Sustainable Futures Report. It's Wednesday 24th November.

 

Anthony Day:

My guest this week is Jenny Bailey, who is a children's author. She's an environmentalist and she's co-founder of Tales from Mother Earth. We'll learn more about that in a moment. Jenny, welcome to the Sustainable Futures Report.

Jenny Bailey:

Thank you so much, Anthony. It's lovely to be here, thank you.

Anthony Day:

Now I have a question, which I think will put you on the spot. We are recording this on the Monday just after the close of COP26, and there is so much still coming out, and so many comments and questions. But quite simply, in your view, what's the message from COP26?

Jenny Bailey:

Yes. It's a difficult one, because I think it's going to continue, obviously. The conversations don't just stop, do they, at the end of that day on that weekend? So, I mean, we had 25,000 delegates coming together from over 200 countries over the last two weeks in Glasgow. To obviously debate and discuss what they can do, and what the whole world can do, really, to stop climate change, to keep us at 1.5. I think, obviously, the decisions that have come out of that are positive. There was a few drawbacks, because obviously some of those countries changed the pact right at the end there, which is a little bit concerning, and they changed the language. I think the deforestation rule is fantastic. And let's hope the countries that signed up to that can keep to that, because it is all about giving those habitats, and obviously the forests, a chance to recover. And I think that will be very strong.

Jenny Bailey:

I think we'll see more development and more discussions continue, but I think it's a step in the right direction. And there was a lot of conversations, there was a lot of debates. It's a hard one, isn't it really? Because like you said, that is a hard question to answer. I think we'll have to not necessarily wait and see, but wait for the settlement to come through a little bit more in a little bit more detail, and to see. Also, the whole problem about accountability, I think, is something to raise as well. Because if people don't keep to those pacts and don't keep to those agreements, and the countries full short, then we're back at square one, aren't we? So that's got to be a concern as well. I was hoping for a little bit more accountability, but then that's a difficult task. Yeah, it's a very difficult thing.

Anthony Day:

Yeah. As you say, it's difficult. It's a complex question. You work as a children's author, bringing messages of sustainability and conservation to them. How much of the COP26 message can you share with them, and how does it work?

Jenny Bailey:

We share, really, three main messages through our stories, Tales from Mother Earth. We've started with Phoebe the Bee, and now we've gone on to Spike the Hedgehog. So out of the eight stories that I've written, we've published our two titles so far. We only started last year. What we set out to achieve was to connect children with nature through empowering them to help the wildlife that needs help today. So through a story that's going to touch their heart and get their attention, they can learn that they can make a difference. And help that animal and life-form that needs help.

Jenny Bailey:

For instance, the bees, we can plant wildflower seeds, we can help them, and we can help the pollinators. The hedgehogs, obviously it's the hedgehog highway, and we can actually welcome wildlife into our garden. What we do with our books is we look at the three issues. Of one is plastics and plastic pollution. The other one is loss of habitat, and the other one is climate change. And we weave those threads of concern, and how our animals are coping in today's environment due to those issues, through our stories. So they're realistic stories, really.

Anthony Day:

You're aiming at three to 10-year-olds, and they should grow up to be responsible adults. But will they grow up in time to do enough?

Jenny Bailey:

[crosstalk 00:04:02].

Anthony Day:

Because things are so urgent. Or on the other hand, will some of these messages rub off on the parents here and now, and perhaps help that way?

Jenny Bailey:

That's exactly right. By aiming, Anthony, at the three to 10-year-olds, we're hoping that the parents come on board with those messages as well. We're hoping that the parents sit down and read the books with the children so they both take on the messages. And then together, they can actually take action. They can plant the wildflower seeds, they can open up a small hole in their fence, and to allow hedgehogs into their garden. And they can let more wildlife in, and discover that together, and discover the benefits of that together as well. That's what we're hoping for. So although our market is very much the three to the 10-year-olds in the primary school market, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. We're hoping those adults come along for the journey very much so, as well.

Anthony Day:

Another thing you're involved in is Green Jumper Day. Which in fact, this year, takes place on Friday, Friday the 26th. What's all that about?

Jenny Bailey:

It's a fantastic new charity that's all about raising awareness of climate change. It was trying to launch last year, but obviously with COVID and everything, they put it off and they're launching it this year. And it's just fantastic, because again, it's got two main concerns. One is obviously deforestation, so they're looking to plant trees. And the other one is teaching the next generation, and that's where we come in, we're supporting Green Jumper Day. And our books are helping support that next generation by understanding that they can make a difference. No one is too small to make a difference, and children need to understand that. Because this thing about climate change is in the media, and it's big, and it's concerning to lots of children. There is a certain amount of anxiety out there in our children because they're hearing about it, but they feel a little bit out of control.

Jenny Bailey:

But what they can actually do is, like we mentioned earlier, by planting wildflower seeds. And knowing the steps that they can actually take to conserve and preserve the wildlife around them, they can see the difference they can make, and that can be imprinted on them. And through Green Jumper Day, more of that great stuff can happen. Green Jumper Day is also about turning your heating down, popping on a green jumper, or whatever you've got that's green on the 26th of November, to show you're concerned about the climate change. And by turning your heating down, putting your green jumper on, you're going to be saving some money on your fuel as well. And we encourage schools, really, to do a non-uniform day and let the children come in with some green clothing, and support Green Jumper that way as well. So it's a fantastic charity, it really is, and we support them wholeheartedly.

Anthony Day:

Going back to COP26, a number of commentators have said that the event failed. Because we are not going to reach the target of keeping global warming within one and a half degrees centigrade by the end of the century on the basis of what was actually agreed. And that means, come the end of the century, things will be very, very difficult, and well before that as well. That will impact the lives of the three to 10-year-olds that you're talking to now. Do you see grounds for optimism?

Jenny Bailey:

What a question. There has to be grounds for optimism, because we have to keep hope that we can help this situation. I think the technology is there now, that we can bring carbon out of the air, for instance, but it needs to be scaled up massively. I think we have to, Anthony. I think if we go the other way, then what's that message sending out to everybody? I think we have to keep hopeful. The young generation are incredible, they really are. They are understanding, they're taking these messages on, and they are really engaging to actually want to learn and do more about it. And if we can connect them more with nature, then we've got a chance.

Jenny Bailey:

And that's what Tales from Mother Earth is all about, it's all about reconnecting children with nature. Through opening their eyes to seeing what's out there, and connecting them with the sights, the smells, the textures. Being out in nature, getting muddy, getting dirty, all that stuff that for some reason or another, we've taken them away from. As parents, we need to engage them, and get them out in all those environments so they can appreciate it. I mean, they're the future, aren't they? So they have to be given that chance. And I think for us to say, "Are we right to be optimistic about this?" Whether we are, or whether we're not, we've got to keep hopeful that this can work.

Anthony Day:

Right. And have you any more books in the pipeline to reinforce the message?

Jenny Bailey:

Yes. Yes, we do. Bandit the Blue Tit will be coming out next year.

Anthony Day:

[inaudible 00:09:07].

Jenny Bailey:

And that's all about, obviously that Bandit stands for all small garden birds that we can invite into our garden, as Phoebe the Bee stands for all the pollinators, really. It's not purely a bee thing, although bees are incredibly important in our world. But really all the pollinators are, and we need to encourage more pollinators. So next year, yes, we've got Bandit the Blue Tit coming out, and also Stanley the Water Vole. And Stanley really looks into the plastic issue in our waterways. So that's another book that's going to be coming out next year, too.

Anthony Day:

Well, thank you very much. Thank you, Jenny, for sharing your thoughts and ideas with the Sustainable Futures Report.

Jenny Bailey:

Thank you so much, Anthony. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you.

 

 

Jenny Bailey. You can find out more about Green Jumper Day, coming up on Friday, at greenjumperday.com and Tales from Mother Earth at talesfrommotherearth.co.uk .

Don’t forget that on Friday it’s also Buy Nothing Day,  buynothingday.co.uk , and I’ll be talking about that on Friday with feedback from listeners and a message from the grass roots about COP26. And will the Insulate Britain rebels still be in prison. Should they be?

I’m Anthony Day. 

That was the Wednesday Interview from the Sustainable Futures Report.

There’s another episode on Friday.

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A weekly podcast and blog brought to you by Anthony Day. A selection of stories and interviews aiming to be sustainable, topical and interesting.
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