How do you feel when someone mentions Climate Change? Sad? Frustrated? Worried? About a year ago, I would have summed up my feelings towards climate change in two words: helpless fear. I felt incredibly sad that our planet was being slowly destroyed; I felt responsible for being part of the cause, and I also felt powerless and paralysed by the burden of the change that was needed.
Recently, Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar and gave a fantastic speech (watch it here) in which he stated that Climate Change is “the most urgent threat facing our entire species.” I can’t help but feel that although many share the sentiments of the video, it is easy to feel unsure about what we can actually do about it.
I am sure that most of us would not call ourselves Climate Change deniers, however it is easy to live as though the changing temperatures of our earth are not being caused by us, and have no impact on our personal lives whatsoever!
Let us not be known as the generation who knew there was a problem, and failed to ever actually do anything about it!
However, the problem of Climate Change often feels so big and so impossible, that we can end up feeling overwhelmed and helpless, and ultimately do nothing. So, this list is intended to help us shift our thinking, and thus, our doing. As James says: “faith without deeds is dead.” Let us follow our words and our beliefs with our actions! Listed in order from easiest to hardest, the idea is that we can start at 1 and work our way down, little by little changing the way we live and our impact on our planet.
1. Stop using plastic bags!!!
This is a super super easy way to start on a journey towards awareness and action. Plastic bags are a single use item, completely unnecessary and easy to avoid. And I promise, your carrots will be fine if you just put them straight into your trolley, without the extra plastic vege bag keeping them together. Please please please, leave those plastic bags behind!!
2. Avoid single use items
Plastic drink bottles, glad wrap, plastic spoons, coffee cups. These are all the marks of a disposable generation who think little about where these single use items go after we have finished with them. Invest in a Keepcup, a reusable drink bottle and maybe even some Bee Eco Wraps.
3. Recycle your socks off
You know how when you buy a packet of timtams, they come sitting in a plastic tray? Have you ever recycled it? I only realised I could this year! That decreases the wastefulness of those delicious biscuits by at least 50%! Check packages and recycle them like a crazy person. Recycling takes little-to-no effort but can drastically reduce the amount of rubbish going from your household into the ground.
4. Buy second hand
Thrift shopping has a certain trendy allure to it. I’m sure we would all like to say that our clothes were entirely sourced from Vinnies. Buying second hand means that less production is needed (the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful after agriculture) and that we can avoid unknowingly buying into slave labour. Buying second hand also means item is given another life, is cheaper AND you can usually buy it package free. So many benefits! This past year I have committed to buying both clothing and household items entirely second hand, and I have noticed this is forcing me to change an underlying philosophy of consumerism that I had unconsciously adopted…Buying second hand can be frustrating and slow, but it can also be super rewarding and helpful.
5. Don’t use anything with microbeads!!!!!!
Tbh, if this is the only thing you take away from this post, I would be happy. Microbeads are those small granules put into face wash and other products in order to exfoliate. The problem is, they are so small that they are missed by our water filtering system and go straight into the ocean. Unfortunately, these teeny tiny pieces of plastic look a lot like food to most of our ocean creatures, and ultimately end up back in our stomachs. Find out which products to avoid here.
6. Transition to package free shopping.
This change is slightly harder and more time consuming, but will greatly reduce the amount of disposable waste produced by your household! We buy all our fruit and veggies from a local farmers market (package free) and most of our dry goods from Naked foods, an amazing package free bulk store. This step may need more planning and can really depend on the area you live in. However, it is pretty easy to buy most fruit/vege without packaging even in Coles. Purchase packaged items with a hierarchy in mind: glass, hard plastic, recyclable soft plastic, and then soft non-recyclable plastic.
7. Change banks and superannuation funds
This change requires slightly more research and commitment, but ultimately can be the most impactful. Until recently I did not quite think about what happened to my money whilst it was sitting in the bank or super. Banks use the money from their customers to invest and grow profits. The problem with this is that they are often investing in fossil fuels, and unsustainable industry. This means that we might be financially supporting the production and supply of fossil fuels without even realising it. This fantastic website tells you what your bank/super is investing in, and which ones you could change to. Money speaks, and this is one way to use it to further investment in renewable resources without much effort!
8. Eat less meat
If you had asked me two years ago, I would have told you there was no way I would ever change how much meat I ate (I mean, I went to Ribs&Rumps for my 20th birthday…) However, the agricultural industry is hugely polluting in many and various ways. Changing how much meat we eat aims to affect the chain of supply and demand, thus reducing the impact of agriculture on the planet. Once again, when it comes to industry, money speaks, and opting out of eating meat can be a great way to stop investing in polluting industries. We have tried to make meat more of a specialty item, eaten more occasionally, or for special occasions. This transition can be difficult, but as you build up a repetoir of great vegetarian meals it gets easier and easier.
9. Grow your own
This is a rewarding way to appreciate our environment, limit the amount of traveling your food does and eat fresh, organic produce! Herbs are a good place to start, and make sure you ignore anyone who tells you that gardening should be easy (especially when things are failing!). Growing some of my own food has helped me to reconnect and renewed my appreciation for seasons, rain, sunshine, weather patterns and all the other things our wonderful earth does to provide for us.
10. Can I make that?
An amazing website that inspired me to begin a zero waste journey was this one. The author included a recipe for toothpaste, which I first thought was going way too far. A year later, we now make our own toothpaste, moisturiser, deodorant, soap, and cleaning products. This avoids buying packaged products and means I have total control over what ingredients are being used in my household! Think about products you would buy and consider making them instead. Food (such as tomato sauce, hummus, jam etc.) is often really easy to make instead and can be used as a gift too. (This is a photo of some doughnuts that I made, which were way easier than expected!! Recipe here.)
11. Ditch your car.
Do you have a car? Could you use it less often? Could you ditch it altogether? We began last year as a family of two, with two cars. So…we sold one and tried to do our best to minimise our use of the other. It’s hard! And inconvenient! And sometimes just not possible! (#sydneytransport) But my continuing goal for this year is to make deliberate choices which work towards climate justice.
What are your thoughts? Have I left anything off the list? Do you have any other ideas that you have incorporated into your own life?
Let me know!