I’m writing this because I’ve just got a little bit angry. I don’t get angry often, but sometimes I resort to it, normally out of pure frustration. And why am I frustrated? Well, because I’ve just spent some time Googling, and trying to find suggestions for what people can do to celebrate Earth Day. I thought I would put together a little list of simple suggestions, but in my research, I’ve come across a few suggestions that just baffle me.
I just wrote and published a blog earlier on today, on how little things can make massive changes. And yes, changing light bulbs and recycling your cardboard and only washing full loads of washing are all great ideas. But with the world in the state it is now, people need to wake up and realize that they should be doing these things anyway. These suggestions are just normal, every day, non-arsehole things that you should be doing.
One of the suggestions that repeatedly comes up is ‘Plant a Tree’. Well, that’s great if you’ve got the space or the money. If you plant a tree, brilliant. Good for you. But if you’ve used that to justify driving to the garden centre, picking out a tree that’s been farmed under high-powered grow lights and possible doused in RoundUp, only to drive home, drop it in the ground before you head out for a steak dinner (from a cow fed on soybean grown a newly cleared part of the Amazon) whilst wearing a new outfit you just bought from Primark, then, frankly you are not doing enough.
Here are my counter-suggestions of things you could actually try (but probably don’t want to because you think they are too hard or someone else’s problem) –
1 – Stop eating meat and diary – why? Well, because livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gases. Animal agriculture is bad news, and people need to wake up to that.
2 – Stop buying bottled water – 17million barrels of oil are used in the production of plastic water bottles every year. It also takes a further 50million barrels of oil to manufacture, transport and refrigerate that water, each year. And not to mention more than 80% of the bottles are single-use and end up in landfill. If your tap water isn’t safe to drink, petition your government, seek out alternatives, or just use reusable containers when getting water from a safe-source.
3 – Stop eating fish – fish stocks are depleting, the oceans are dying, and it unsustainable for us to continue using fish as a source of protein. Blue fin tuna levels are down 97%, and that’s just one, closely monitored species. If we don’t give the oceans a chance to recover, there will be no oceanic life by 2050. There is no such thing as sustainable fishing, just fishing. And fishing needs to stop.
4 – Stop buying so much clothing – fast fashion is a massive problem. It is a massive problem when oil is used relentlessly in synthetic fabrics, fabrics which then fail to breakdown when they go to landfill. It’s also a massive problem for the water-hungry cotton industry, which relies heavily on pesticides in order to boost yield. And if you don’t have a problem with the environmental abuses, think of the people who are producing your clothes, often working long hours in poor conditions, for very little pay. Use clothing swaps, secondhand stores, and thrift stores to add to your wardrobe, or buy once and buy well, spending more money on organic, fair-trade and ethically sourced fashion so you can look good and feel good.
5 – Read, discuss, learn, grow – the more you know about the true state of the planet, the more it can feel like the world is overwhelmingly (can I say) fucked. And it is, if everyone decides that its not their problem, or it doesn’t affect their country, or it is too expensive to do anything about. These four suggestions above will save you money, so scratch out that excuse. And if it isn’t happening in your country, it’s in the post that’s for sure – your food sources and climate are dictated by the plant, so stop thinking about borders and start thinking as part of a wider, global community. And finally, if you think it is someone else’s problem, you’re a selfish idiot. Repeat this step until you wake-up.
These suggestions are small. They are comparatively easy. They require nothing apart from a bit of dedication and sacrifice on your part. But trust me, you need to do this, we have a lot to lose.