Issue 104 is out now

By Claire Arnold

01st December 2016

Feeling overwhelmed and helpless? Here are some small scale ways in which you can take action today to make the world a better place

By Claire Arnold

01st December 2016

By Claire Arnold

01st December 2016

Now Is The Time.

The past year has been dramatic in terms of world news, and there have been some rather worrying outcomes for the environment, including the threat to many protective laws in the UK, and a president who does not believe in climate change in the USA.

For some, these events have been horrifying and surprising, and many of us are asking what we can do, ourselves, to make a change. Speakers such as the leaders of the Green Party, and self styled gurus such as Russell Brand, have risen to the challenge, spreading their belief that this is the time to be the change we want to see, and that there are many positive things we can do to respond to these threats.

I have a tendency to feel helpless, and to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the environmental issues we face. Having these ideas to focus on has helped me to remain positive and given me some great food for thought. Here are some small scale, vital ways in which we can make a difference:

· Join in with existing action. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, and an excess of campaigns and petitions seems to dilute the problem and overwhelm potential supporters. Joining in with campaigns that are already successful means making the most effective use of your energy and time, and working towards the most positive outcomes. Charities and campaign groups that have already built up a good following are well placed to deal with new developments in policy as they unfold, and you will often find that the campaign you feel is vital is already out there, waiting for your support.

· Make small changes. Look around you and think about what you can change to make a difference. As a Green Parent, you’re probably already recycling, reusing and reducing your waste, but are there some steps you’ve always planned to make when you have more time? If you’re still using a lot of plastic or you haven’t had time to grow food, this could be the time to address the challenge. Commit to eliminate chemicals from your house, or to digging your veg beds ready for spring planting, and feel good in the knowledge that you’re making your corner of the world greener. See our list of actions you can take today for more simple ideas.

· Create a new habit. Building a new routine can help to create a positive effect on a small scale. How about taking a carrier bag with you every time you go on a dog walk or to the beach, and filling it with litter as you go? This is a very effective action that can set a fantastic example for children to follow, and it can really make a difference locally. Imagine if everyone did the same!

· Talk to other people. One person committing to do all they can to protect the planet is a great thing, but global change will never take off if we keep our actions to ourselves. Sharing what we know about climate change and how we can combat it can lead to many interesting conversations and a whole host of others joining with us to multiply the effects of our efforts. Start with your immediate family, or close friends, and if they’re all doing their bit already, challenge yourself to talk to a stranger and spread the word for the world!

· Teach our children. Let’s face it, our children will bear the brunt of the disastrous way in which the environment has suffered in recent years. It’s our role to educate them, encourage them to work towards positive change wherever they can, and show them how to put the planet first. Without radical change, the future doesn’t look bright for anyone, so we owe it to our children to teach them all we know and empower them to make a difference. Setting targets together and discussing your carbon footprint can be a good place to start, but being a positive role model is the most important way to inspire little ones.

· Think positive. This is a big one, and it can be very difficult to do. It’s easy to sink into despair and focus on all the negatives in the world around us, especially when faced with such upheaval. The rise in racially motivated attacks following the UK referendum and the US elections has led to widespread fear and distress about the sort of world we are living in today, but the way in which we approach the problems that face us is very important. If we refuse to give in to hatred and division, and instead concentrate on kindness and positive action, whether this is in volunteering for a local charity, or smiling at neighbours in the street, we will be making small steps towards a more positive environment and spreading the message that togetherness and cohesion can overcome difference.

It’s not easy to be a lone voice in a crowd of negativity, and seeking out others on the same path will make the journey easier. If you feel isolated in your area, look locally or online for groups that may share your outlook, or work with a national campaign group to start something new in your village or town. In the wake of the recent political events worldwide, many groups are arranging movements across the country to stand in solidarity with others and become a greater force for change. There’s never been a better time to be involved with grass roots action, and when we join together with others to make things happen, our voices can become loud enough to drown out the negativity. For ourselves, for our children and for our planet, now is the time.

Actions You Can Take Today:

Cutting your carbon footprint is easier when you get into the habit of questioning the way you live your daily life. Ask yourself whether any of the following ideas would work for you and your family:

Go carless. Are you in a location where public transport is an option for you? Taking the bus or train is a fantastic way to reduce the toll you place on the world, and it offers new opportunities to meet people and save money, too. If you don’t have access to public transport, ask yourself how many days a week you could leave the car at home and walk.

Grow your own. Growing vegetables to feed your family is a huge factor in reducing the burden on the planet, since mass farming is so destructive. Even a small garden can be very productive, and it’s a great learning curve too!

Compost. Some areas have a great recycling scheme that can collect raw and cooked food with your refuse. This, however, should be secondary to your own composting system, which will allow you to create excellent quality compost from your uncooked food scraps, waste paper and card, and grass cuttings. Once your compost heap is set up, this is a
daily action which only takes minutes and makes a big contribution to the environment.

Use reusable bags. Thanks to policy changes making it illegal for supermarkets to give plastic bags for free, more people than ever are reusing bags. It’s easy to fall out of the habit, though, so how about repurposing some old fabric into a collection of fabric bags that you can keep in your handbag or the car and use again and again?

Stop spending on new items. Clothing, household items and toys can all be picked up from charity shops, often far cheaper than new items, and you’ll know that you’ve done the world a favour. Not only that, but you’ll have avoided the off-gassing and leaching issues that arise with new textiles and plastics, so you’ll be helping your health, too.

Use stainless steel water bottles. If you make packed lunches, or take picnics with you, think twice before spending a fortune on bottled water or foil-lined cartons of juice. For under £10, you can buy a practical and elegant stainless steel bottle that will be better for your health and the earth.

Replace chemical cleaning products. It’s hard to imagine an easier target than replacing one product at a time until you are using only environmentally friendly options. Start with the product you use most often, and look for an eco alternative, or get busy making your own. Castille soap is a great all–rounder, and there are many excellent recipes online for all types of cleaning products.

Shop ethically. If you must buy new, look for ethical options. From yoga mats to clothing, there are businesses out there thinking about doing their best for the planet, and supporting them is a great way to ensure you’re not contributing to the resource destruction that many companies allow.

Switch off. It’s sometimes hard in a family household, but encouraging everyone to switch off everything they aren’t using at the plug can be really good for your energy bills as well as the planet. Mobile phone and laptop chargers, especially, are usually the type of plug that will continue to draw electricity whether a device is charging or not, so leaving these switched on is expensive and wasteful – and a very easy problem to fix!

Claire Arnold is a Doula and writer, interested in natural and holistic ways of living. She lives in Devon with her husband, four children and lots of animals, and is always hoping to make life a little greener. Claire blogs at www.writingwaves.wordpress.com

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