Re-Action For The People: Citizens Not Consumers

Re-Action wants to give power back to the people and help develop a new generation of change-makers for a greener outdoor industry. 

Yes, this is a form of rebellion against the establishment, as it was back in the sixties. What we’re rebelling against is the idea, established through mass-marketing, that people are consumers above all else. We don’t believe that is true and that this narrative needs to change for the sake of the planet.

A citizen (rather than consumer) is a person with agency who makes decisions mindfully according to their needs and the well-being of the planet. When there isn’t a solution that fits their values, they act with agency, feeling empowered to do something about it. They are change-makers; people that through their passion for protecting the planet, bring solutions and empower others too.

We have some examples of such people to share with you.

Re-Action Citizen Case Study – Stephen Cousins

Stephen Cousins

Working in a ski resort Stephen became interested in ski touring but found the equipment was very expensive. His budget couldn’t stretch to buying new, so he started looking around for some second hand kit. Finding none within the resort community, he started looking into creating a second hand platform.

Returning home he set to work but quickly realised that what he needed to build was a tech start-up. This wasn’t part of his plan. Around the same time he read the 2016 WRAP textiles report which changed his entire perspective on ‘stuff’ and the constant production of it. He became overwhelmed.

His interest in the community aspect led him into community work, engaging people on re-use and the circular economy. He ran a project in his community collecting clothing, fixing it and distributing it to young people in hard to reach communities.

Just before COVID hit, he set up a business arm to his operations called Bluebird Exchange to sell repaired outdoor clothing and equipment. This helps fund his community work. He does this through his website and by holding pop up shops. Stephen has held a number of successful events around repair and re-use and runs a project to repurpose school uniform outdoor wear. He donates the clothes to young people in low income areas in Edinburgh.

“Bluebird was born out of necessity, but it does good on multiple levels, making outdoor gear more affordable, lowering carbon waste, building community, and helping the environment.

My short to medium term goal is to get my own space within the community.”

Re-Action Citizen Case Study – Cecile Burton

Cecile Burton
Cecile Burton

Cecile didn’t realise she was eco-conscious until she noticed that other people weren’t doing the same things as her. She describes herself back then as passively eco. She carried her own reusable water bottle, worked in a bar that didn’t use plastic straws, used a bamboo toothbrush etc. When she read the 2018 IPCC report and heard about Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) activities she felt inspired to join the movement.

Cecile moved to Canada and subsequently injured herself. This led to her connecting with like minded people online and opening a Nova Scotia branch of XR.

Her next move took her to Morzine (in between helping out at refugee camps in Calais). In Morzine she met Barbara de Moubray, a local artist, who was having her own epiphany. Barbara had created a mermaid sculpture out of waste plastic to support a friend who was swimming the English channel to raise awareness about plastic pollution. After this, she joined forces with Cecile with the goal of addressing plastic waste in the mountains.

Together, they realised that the challenges of the mountain community and businesses were broader than just plastic waste. Through their conversations, they crossed paths with some local business owners who also wanted help their community become more sustainable. The resulting collaboration was Montagne Verte.

Since its inception in 2019, Montagne Verte has engaged dozens of local businesses, held numerous events, opened a shop selling pre-loved outdoor clothing and led a campaign to promote train travel to resort. Watch this space for their next steps.

Re-Action Citizen Case Study – Andy Davies

Andy Davies
Andy Davies

Andy is a web developer, father, keen snowboarder and trail runner who lives in the Alps. He used to buy brand new clothing for snowboarding and running in, often online.

With a general rise in consciousness of the impact of his shopping habits and thanks in part to the opening of the One Tree at a Time shop near where he lives, he has changed the way he buys clothing and equipment.

He now buys much of what he needs from One Tree at a Time. He’s thrilled that he has found a solution to meet his needs that matches his climate-conscious values.

His change in buying habits has led him to evolve his web design business. He now focuses exclusively on building low carbon websites hosted on green servers. Happily for us, he built the Re-Action website using low-carbon principles. This means that, together with graphics from Courtney Flannagan, our site packs a big punch whilst having a tiny impact on the planet. 

He also uses his experience to educate people about reducing their online carbon footprint. More about that in another blog.

Re-Action Citizen Case Study – Manon Carpenter

Manon Carpenter
Manon Carpenter

Manon started sewing aged 10 when she made her first bag. Mending, making clothes, sewing and creativity runs in her family. When she moved to Meribel to work ski seasons, she was forced to leave her sewing machine at home. To continue to sew, she taught herself hand embroidery which is compact enough to take anywhere.

Working at a busy bar in Meribel for the last few years, she heard about One Tree at a Time. Their philosophy of patching and repairing ski clothing to keep it in circulation and on the mountain resonated with her. She decided to volunteer her services to patch up jackets for rental and resale, later moving onto helping with repairs.

She was motivated to help and takes a real pride in her work, reusing fabrics wherever possible.

“It makes me happy to do repairs that save people from buying new, when it is really not necessary.”

Over the course of this winter, Manon became a passionate advocate for One Tree. She quickly became the link between Meribel and the One Tree shop which is based 20 kms away in Bozel. Without the time or transport to get to the shop, Meribel seasonnaires and businesses started coming to Manon directly with their repair jobs.

The demand for her services surpassed her expectations. It has allowed her to resign from her job at the pub and is go freelance. She will still be helping out One Tree, but now sees a future where she can do what she loves and help local businesses save planetary resources by mending clothing, soft furnishings and more. This is another example of a volunteer turned change-maker.

“When I first got involved with One Tree I felt empowered. It gives me so much joy thinking about their purpose and getting involved in it. I mean, how can you sit on the fence? We live in the mountains and see the effects on the environment every day. I’ve reached a point where I want to do meaningful work that I can be proud of.”

About Re-Action

Re-Action exists to bring people and organisations together. We facilitate collaboration so everyone can learn from each other and share ways in which to implement circular practices into their lives and operations for the benefit of the planet and their communities.

The profiles above show that anyone with an interest in promoting a more sustainable lifestyle and / or way of doing business can make a difference. To find out more, be inspired and empowered, sign up for the Re-Action citizen newsletter.

Further Reading

For further reading on the idea of the citizen story check out Jon Alexander’s new book Citizens.

We love to hear your feedback and to find out more about your activities. If you feel inspired to become a change-maker yourself, get in touch.