Women's Six Nations 2021: England's Claudia MacDonald on tackling climate change

Claudia MacDonald
Claudia MacDonald can play scrum-half or wing

For England back Claudia MacDonald, it is all about the 1%.

She thinks concentrating on the smallest possible things they can change could eventually help England win a World Cup.

More importantly, MacDonald believes this approach could also help in the fight against climate change.

In September 2020 the Wasps back - who plays scrum-half and wing - decided she would try a new way to make herself more sustainable each month, writing about her experience in a blog.

The idea was to focus on the 1%. Instead of making massive life changes, she would take on small, manageable tasks in the hope that if everyone took on such small alterations it would have a large cumulative impact.

For example, the 25-year-old now tries to cycle to training instead of using her car but accepts that her career as an international rugby player perhaps rules out a blanket ban on some forms of transport.

Should she be in the squad for next year's postponed World Cup, MacDonald will definitely be flying to New Zealand.

"When people talk about sustainability it can sometimes be quite daunting," she explains.

"You go into this whole new world of feeling you are being judged for everything you do.

"What I am trying to communicate is that every small change you make is important. It's not necessarily about completely flipping your lifestyle over."

'The more you talk, the better it is'

Although MacDonald has not directly asked any of her team-mates to behave more sustainably, she hopes that her stance may foster more conversations on the topic.

She brings her own water bottle to lunch while in England camp instead of drinking from plastic ones and notices other players doing the same.

When new kit arrives, many players will recycle the plastic wrapping it comes in or "find a way to make it more eco-friendly".

MacDonald realised the message was really starting to sink in when, after a recent injury, her team-mates bought her a selection of eco-friendly gifts.

"The more you talk about it the better it is," she says. "It creates a social norm to talk about it.

"People are listening and engaging. It does influence behaviours."

'Small differences have big effects'

As well as fighting for a healthier planet, MacDonald is also battling for England's starting nine shirt with Harlequins scrum-half Leanne Riley.

It is Riley who will start in Saturday's Six Nations match against Italy, with MacDonald on the bench, as the back-to-back Grand Slam champions seek victory for a place in the final.

The Wasps back says there is a level of support between the two players because they both want to help the team succeed, especially at the World Cup.

That tournament, postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, is the ultimate goal and in discussing preparations for that MacDonald returns, of course, to the 1%.

"The postponement of the World Cup gives us another year to improve those 1%s," she says.

"We're not going from 0 to 100. We're looking for small differences we can make and the cumulative effect of everyone making a small difference could cause us to win a World Cup. That is a huge outcome for us.

"With becoming more sustainable you don't have to become the most sustainable person in the entire world overnight. If everyone made a small difference, the cumulative effect is quite big."