At least you’re trying, right?
Well, yes... to an extent. While it is important to acknowledge the effort that we make to preserve the Earth, it is also extremely important to keep empowering ourselves to do more and to do better. The rate of human destruction upon Earth is not slowing despite our current efforts – which indicates that we are not doing nearly enough.
Environmental work, big or small, is not something that one should engage in to create an egocentric feeling of superiority. This attitude only creates divides and pushes ‘non-greenies’ further away. Environmental work must be done humbly, with joyful purpose and with cultural sensitivity – that is the cornerstone.
Besides engaging in the real work ourselves, it is extremely important to inspire others to take action as well. In order to make a real difference, we need to get lots of people doing their absolute best. One can do this by using an inclusive and empathetic attitude and tone when engaging in conversations about environmental awareness. Belittling and condescending others does the movement a total injustice by pushing questioning people further away. In fact, leading by example is the single most successful way to inspire others.
Once one’s ego is in check, it is important to look within and to improve on every aspect of one’s impact. Seemingly small things like refusing plastic straws have a huge impact, but should continue to be viewed as small acts and not focused upon as if it is all an individual can do. Refusing plastic straws and as much other single-use plastic as possible must become second nature, as must minimising the use of electricity and water, driving less, buying local, eating more plant-based and opting to buy second hand as much as is viable. Allowing these things to become a normal part of one’s life, and leaving no room for lapses, is a good example to others and gives one the space to focus on making bigger changes.
As consumers, we hold more power than we know. It is important to learn about the convoluted topic of environmental destruction so that we can make informed choices when buying.
Recycling plastic is a great start, but it is very flawed. Recycling does lessen the need for new plastic, but it requires energy, factories and machines. The biggest action to take is to drastically reduce our plastic consumption – refusing unnecessary single-use plastic like: plastic shopping bags, produce bags, straws, plastic cutlery and take-away containers needs to become commonplace to all consumers who can then focus on improving even further by working towards a zero-waste lifestyle.
We simply cannot afford to put our stomachs first anymore.
Food is a massive contributor to most consumers’ carbon footprints and the best ways to change this are: to eat far less animal products, to buy organic and beyond organic, and to support local producers.
The meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change, biodiversity loss and deforestation. Western consumers eat far too many animal products which degrade their health as well as the health of the Earth. Focusing on reducing animal product consumption is a must, as is looking for better, local, small farmer sources of animal products and fresh produce. Buying local reduces transportation-linked emissions and keeps small farmers going.
Making electricity and water saving practices second nature allows one to consider alternative energy sources and going off-grid. This wouldn’t be possible if one’s sole focus was on switching off lights and shaming others for failing to do so.
The world is in a major crisis and big companies and governments are not making nearly enough effort to mitigate it. As citizens of this planet, it is our duty and responsibility to do our utmost best to encourage others, to educate ourselves and to put mass pressure on governments and companies to implement necessary policy changes. If we rely on big industry and governments to do it for us, things will not improve and climate change will continue to worsen. We must grasp the magnitude of the situation.
It is up to the individual to bring back the care and reverence of the Earth that is necessary to save humanity.
Writeen by: Kelly Steenhuisen