I've been reading a lot these holidays about the world. About the environment, about resources, overpopulation, climate change, warming seas, fires and plastic pollution. It seems there is a much to be concerned about. From the point of view of a person who has children and who cares, very much, about the future of the planet, it is a scary outlook.
I recently had to stop myself reading the reports because l became paralysed by fear and helplessness. From raging bushfires to depletion of natural resources it all felt so out of control and mankind's descent into a melting, burning depleted hell inevitable. WAHHH..
So I sat down and wrote this blog. Because there are things we can do, and from small individual changes come bigger shifts in the behaviour of the general population. What follows is the plan I came up with to help me maintain some sort of sanity around these issues, so read on for a few actionable changes to stay feeling in control.
Shop wisely. Do the research. Spend your dollar with companies who aren't plundering the planet and who offer environmentally supportive, regenerative policies. Companies who offer sustainable and recyclable packaging, good supply chain conditions and fair trade resources. They are out there, you just have to find them.
Do I really need that new widget that promises eternal happiness? Probably not. A lot of the urgent messages we are exposed to from retailers are marketing, pure and simple. I've recently spent a (very cathartic) morning unsubscribing from the hundred or so newsletters I have signed up for over the last few years who mail me offering 'amazing deals'. Like decluttering my house, this had the effect of making me feel cleansed, happier, lighter, and freer. I don't need the temptation.
I know I talk about this quite a lot, and it might seem that i have a vested interest in this....and you'd be right, as I'm a small local business. But it's bigger than me. There are so many awesome small businesses out there creating healthy, natural products that are better for you and the environment. Support them. Mostly they are more ethical than a large corporation and are sending a percentage of profits to charities and organisations who in turn support the preservation of the planet. Capitalism can be awesome if we put the money in the right places.
Educate your kids (don't scare them!) Teach them that the world is full of natural and wonderful things and it is our responsibility as guests on this planet that we be respectful and thoughtful with our time here. Teach them that yes, species extinction happens, but there are folks working tirelessly to ensure they can save what is humanly possible to save. Teach them about capitalism and mass marketing and why it's important to support ethical, local companies and not simply buy junk from the $2 shop because its cheap. Tell them about sweatshops and the fact that if they only have to pay $3 for a tee shirt then somewhere along the supply chain someone suffered for that. Introduce them to op shops. The younger generations have a fantastic environmental conscience already. Nurture that.
Be a responsible human
Think about the way you live. Are there changes you can make to become more sustainable? It's easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about this stuff, but start small - adding more simple changes gradually will add up over time. Don't aim for perfection, just aim to be better, gradually. I learnt this the hard way - I used to spend a lot of time thinking and berating myself for all the things I wasn't doing before I realised I should instead focus on the things I was, and making small changes that would keep me moving in the right direction. If everyone starts making small changes it can drive new directions for society, and producers and lawmakers will respond, so don't underestimate the power you have.
The people we ask to represent us have a huge impact on the way we live. Don't underestimate how important this is. Vote - in general, but also local body elections, as it all counts. Vote for people who are future proofing policies and looking at the world from an ethical, respectful point of view and who aren't simply looking to ringfence profits for big business.
Eat your veges
Eat less meat and more locally grown in-season vegetables. While I'm not suggesting everybody needs to be vegan, there is no getting around the fact that raising meat uses up a huge amount of water and resources and is highly pollutant. There are simply too many people on planet earth for everyone to have a meat meal every night. Period. Eating more veg is better for you anyway, so it's a win-win. And strawberries in June? Forget about it! They taste better in season and it keeps them special.
Don't be afraid
Embrace change. How we live now is unsustainable, and the future, I suspect, will look very different. For the sake of humanity, and your sanity, figure that you can and will have the capacity to make a difference to how our future looks.