Did you enjoy the record-breaking weather across the U.K. over the long weekend, despite a sneaking suspicion that this feels like accelerating climate change? With two four-day weeks, the pressure at work hopefully felt a bit lighter – if you’re lucky enough to have a job that give bank holidays off.
Soon enough, though, it’ll be back to full workweeks. Still, with two bank holidays in May, there’s hope on the horizon for a few more breaks from the steady drumbeat of work. I’d like to propose, though, that we reclaim these holidays, and that we go a step further: Let’s change how we act on bank holidays and make them for the people by renaming them ‘Climate Holidays.’ A climate holiday is a chance to slow down, embrace convivial experiences, and give the climate – and yourself – a break.
Why are they called bank holidays, anyway? Originating in an act of Parliament in 1871 and superseded by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971, the law presently states that ‘No person shall be compellable to make any payment or to do any act on a bank holiday under this Act which he would not be compellable to make or do on Christmas Day…’ Why, then, are the run-up to bank holidays dominated by retailers screaming discounts to try and draw people into their stores and onto their websites? Should we not be free from the consumption hysteria and enjoy our right to relax?
Instead of bank holiday buying mania, let’s embrace a day of calm from the busy world. Let’s spend time with family and friends; do a bit of gardening before the plants erupt in green splendour; volunteer outdoors with great local groups like The Kindling Trust or City of Trees; or just slow life down a bit. If hungry for activity, maybe we join in with an Extinction Rebellion protest to show your support for acting to address the climate emergency (did we mention a Manchester Extinction Rebellion organiser is coming to our AGM on 2 May? Get in touch for details!). Alternatively, maybe we take a train journey to a smaller town, go biking in the countryside, or find other brief respites from the city. Give the climate a holiday, too: don’t fly for a weekend getaway.
Perhaps in an ideal scenario would be that we have climate holidays once a month, backed by a new Act of Parliament. They would happen more frequently than bank holidays – once or even twice a month? – and address the urgent need to take national action about the climate emergency by lowering the amount of days we work. But of course, as the endless news cycle reminds us, the endless self-centredness of politicians quibbling over Brexit is set to continue for the foreseeable future. So instead, let’s take it into our own hands. Forget bank holidays; act to make it your climate holiday!
By making climate holidays about being and acting together, whether with those close to you, by volunteering, through activism, and by being conscious about our decisions about what we choose to spend time doing on climate holidays, we can take a bit of pressure off the planet and lessen the disruption human activity is causing to make the climate emergency worse.
A final thought: let’s not forget service workers, whether public transit drivers, shop workers or others that help make our convivial climate holiday plans come together. These workers deserve days off so they can enjoy climate holidays, too. Preferably ones where the sun is shining!