Yesterday Donald Trump announced that the USA is retrieving from the Paris climate change agreement. Needless to say, social media is full of people being angry at this fact.
I agree that it is a very bad thing for a country to pull out of the agreement.
At the same time, I keep noticing something: people seem to externalize the climate change issue.
Because we are all citizens of the world, country boundaries really shouldn’t matter in our personal journey to better climate change. In the end, if consumer behaviour changes, companies will have to supply the demand. No one person can change the planet, but one individual can start a movement towards a better planet.
For me, the most important first step is to educate myself. So, I have educated myself, and I would like to share some of my findings and the changes I have made.
Below is not a list of me being smug in your face about how good a human being I am. I do not live off the grid, am a rubbish gardener and there are many people out there that do a much better job at not leaving a carbon footprint at all.
The message here is about living consciously. Living in a way so to ensure that our beautiful planet and all its inhabitants can sustain itself for generations to come. I hope to inspire you to consider the environmental issues we face as humankind and make even 1 change that helps the planet.
So, here’s some of the stuff I would like to draw your attention to:
1. Reuse and recycle
It’s a tale which is now almost as old as time. Whereas recycling used to take a lot of effort, with not a lot of recycling points in place, nowadays there really is no excuse not to recycle.
If recycling your plastics, paper, bottles and tins is too much effort, choose 1 of them to recycle.
I recycle them all, and have a compost heap in the garden. Given the fact that 1 lift of my wheelie bin costs about 15 euro now, it is a good thing I only put my bin out every 2 or 3 months (depending on the season).
Recycling for me go further than just plastics, paper, bottles and tins. I could not throw away an old piece of clothing which still is intact. Not just clothing, but anything I feel someone else might have a use for goes to the charity shop.
The fun part of being a charity shop regular, is that my home is filled with lovely pieces of furniture that were once part of someone else’s life. This has allowed me to change my sofa 2 times in the last 5 years, giving my home a new look without breaking the bank.
On a sidenote…books! My house is full of them, because I love reading and I pick up interesting second-hand books everywhere I go. Growing up in a home full of books, I think owning about 500 at this point isn’t too bad, opinions very on the subject though 😉
2. Buy consciously
I am still really bad at this. Consumer at heart, I want instant gratification when I see something I think will enhance my life. It’s a good thing I give and buy mostly at charity shops.
Last January I did a clear out of my home, and gathered 5 large IKEA bags full of clothing to give away. The walk of shame! I now own 1 wardrobe in which everything from pyjamas to exercise gear to daily dress must fit, and 1 clothing rack for my dresses, jackets and coats.
Thing is that I mostly wear the same 10 items of clothing all the time, and the rest is just to have some choice when I want to wear something else. I am trying to reach the point where I have to throw something out when buying something new.
Buying consciously also involves looking at the stuff that you are buying.
I never forget the partner of my best friend in college sitting me down, two years after graduation.
‘You have a proper job now, with an income, you can afford items of clothing that will last you longer than 1 season.’ It was one of the most important things anyone has said to me.
It’s true, when I used to buy cheap clothing from big brands selling clothing for as little as possible, I wore stuff that might not necessarily fit and certainly didn’t last more than 10 washes.
It pays off to look into a fashion company’s ethics and efforts to keep our environment clean.
3. Organic, local and in season
Eating organic food doesn’t just help the environment, it also helps your health.
I think we can all agree that if someone would offer you a nice cold drink of pesticides, you would kindly refuse, so why allow this stuff to be sprayed all over your food?
There is a lot of information out there for anyone who has an interest in how even some of the vegetables we are eating are contributing to the destruction of our environment. The climate change denying lobby is powerful enough to ease us into thinking it is all not such a big deal, and even saying this makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist. I am not, I am very much a realist.
Eating local and in season means that you are helping fight pollution by having your food driven and/or flown over to your local supermarket. This means you can then take the flight to your next holiday destination with a clear mind (that is how that works for me, anyways 😊 ).
It also helps keeping your local farmers to be in business, and therefore you are helping your local biodiversity to be sustained.
Yes, it is not nice not being able to have cherries except for those few weeks that they are in season, believe me, I know! It’s a good thing that freezers were invented to keep things for eating later.
I find that I actually look forward to things coming into season, first there’s the rhubarb, now there’s the elderflower, and the year moves on through the different things I eat.
I am not one of those avid gardeners…but my herb patch is doing its very best to survive!
4. Palm Oil
Palm oil in in so many of every day food items, when I stopped eating it I could stop visiting 5 isles in the supermarket. Palm oil is a really big one! The amount of environmental destruction due to palm oil production is so very obvious that this is a global political issue.
Now, there is sustainable palm oil on the market, the problem is that there is no certification. This means that when buying your cup-o-noodles or cornflakes you cannot be sure that the palm oil in the product is from a sustainable small African holding or whether it comes from one of the deforested patches in Indonesia, killing rainforest at a rate quicker than anyone can find homes for wildlife that used to live there.
Until there is certification and I know where the palm oil in products is coming from, I have completely stopped eating products containing it. As I said…I make most stuff from scratch now.
5. Veggie day
The days that only people hating animal cruelty ate vegetarian are over.
The United Nations is involved in this debate, asking people to have one or more vegetarian days a week to help the environment. This is one of those ‘stick your head in the sand’ scenarios.
Of course, we all want our grandchildren’s grandchildren to live in a beautiful world, but we want our current children to enjoy their happy meal.
As I am mostly vegetarian for most of my life (mainly because I have no clue how to cook meat), it’s easy for me to talk. I don’t get meat cravings.
There is now talk that lettuce is bad for the environment…good thing I don’t like lettuce either!
But seriously, think about the type of meat you are eating, where it is sourced and what the impact on the environment might be.
Namaste people, we are all in this together!