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A climate detour: How Reimagine Co got double-booked

Heenal Rajani |

Hopefully you all know by now that this Friday, November 29, is the Global Climate Strike. Across the world, millions of people will be walking out of their schools and workplaces, to send a message to global leaders that they must take urgent action now to prevent global ecological collapse.

Reimagine Co is proud to be not just a supporter of the strikes and the global movement for climate justice, but one of the organisers of the climate strikes here in London. While not expecting as big of a turnout as on September 27, when over 3,000 people gathered outside City Hall and marched through the streets of London, we are very much looking forward to the climate strike from 3 to 5 pm this Friday and hopeful that many Londoners will choose to join us on the streets.

This Friday is also the date of the “Holiday Detour”, an evening shopping event organised by Downtown London in conjunction with the Lighting of the Lights in Victoria Park and the CP Holiday Train stopping on Richmond at Piccadilly Street. Some time ago, Reimagine Zero Waste, our zero waste store in the old Novack’s building in downtown London was invited to take part in the Holiday Detour, and we gladly agreed.

It was only when it was pointed out to us in a social media comment yesterday that our Holiday Detour event appeared to overlap with the Climate Strike that it struck us how inconsistent it would be to be participating in a holiday sales event at the same time as participating in a strike. This is not just a demonstration we are talking about, but a strike - and a strike, by definition, means not working! It’s clear that our team had not been communicating well and didn’t realise the seriousness of the overlap. Planning to have our shop open during the strike was a silly mistake!

For the last Global Climate Strike on September 27, we shut our store for the whole day - surely this time we could shut our shop for at least the two hours of the London strike, from 3 to 5pm? It was a silly mistake to have made, but I knew how to fix it. I would simply change Reimagine Co’s participation in the Holiday Detour from to 5 to 8 pm instead of 4 to 8pm, I would edit our communications accordingly and inform the team. Simple as that.

That was my second mistake.

When my team found out this morning about my unilateral decision, they politely asked me what I thought I was doing.

I came to realise that the situation was more complicated than I had presumed. It was too late to simply change our minds about the Holiday Detour. We committed, months ago, to Downtown London that we would take part in the event for the whole duration, from 4 to 8 pm. We have scheduled several staff to work that evening, and have been inviting our customers to the event. I had panicked, failed to consult the team, and made things worse.

Understanding this, I backtracked and reverted to the previous position of Reimagine Co taking part in the climate strike from 3-5 and the Holiday Detour from 4-8, even though the overlap feels unfortunate and a bit icky. Life is icky sometimes. We are hypocrites and that is ok. It’s not the first time that we have had to face dilemmas and it won’t be the last. I think that’s part of the very nature of running a zero-waste store, encouraging people to consume less while needing them to consume something in order to make a living - it’s a delicate dance, and sometimes feet get stepped on.

So, the upshot of everything you’ve just read is that it’s “as you were”. Some members of Reimagine Co (myself included) will take part in the climate strike this Friday, while others will take part in the Holiday Detour. If I had realised earlier that the events overlapped, we might have been able to act differently. But now it’s too late, and two wrongs won’t make one right.

I am just so grateful that I have a team who are prepared to challenge my poor decisions and to speak their truth to me. From this, I am going to learn to learn to breathe, pause and consult the team before making decisions. I am in search of better systems for taking on and managing multiple overlapping projects. And I know I just need to do less, to remain more focussed and better rested. So much to learn from this one incident, and for that I am very grateful.

Heenal Rajani
Co-founder, Reimagine Co