As Christmas looms – the season of consumerism and waste – and climate change becomes an increasingly urgent issue, it can feel overwhelming. What can we do individually that actually makes a difference?
There is plenty we can all do as individuals that will make a difference. But we have to get on board. We spoke to ethical expert Atlanta Cook for ideas that everyone can activate.
STOP WITH THE BLAME
Whilst we may be the generation that knows how to reuse and repair, the generation that doesn’t waste resources, or knows how to ‘make do and mend’, it is also our generation and our parents who are responsible for inventing plastics, developing motor cars, improving methodology for plundering natural resources, deforestation, the population explosion, methods of large scale manufacture and waste, and intensive farming.
So giving it the old ‘we do our bit, it’s the youngsters who have a disposable life’ grumble just won’t do. Nor is it helpful.
Firstly, perhaps if the ‘youngsters’ do that, it’s because that’s the lifestyle and legacy they’ve had handed to them (they all have parents who have formed their lifestyle habits, let’s not forget that – they didn’t learn this stuff all on their own).
Secondly, pointing fingers and blaming everyone else isn’t going to fix the problem. We are in this together. And we need to fix it together.
THERE IS STUFF YOU CAN DO
…are the measures we take as individuals actually worth bothering with?
So what can you do? In what feels like a world on the brink of collapse, are the measures we take as individuals actually worth bothering with?
The answer is definitely yes. And the more of us that take action, the better. If we all do our bit it will make a difference. Are you starting to see a pattern? Your input is really valuable. We all need to get on board. Not waste energy blaming other people.
- Switch to @ecotricity – they are the greenest/most ethical by miles.
- Switch lights off in empty rooms.
- Turn your thermostat down to 12-14, degrees which is a normal British Summer’s day, and wear more layers if you’re cold.
- Stop using your car for short journeys; instead allow yourself the time to walk so you get exercise and meet people on the way, both of which will greatly reduce stress and lift your mood!
- Order a veg box from a local grower, so you both support the local economy and eat more seasonal veg.
- Make more time to visit friends and invite them into your home, which builds emotional resilience and your community network.
- Grow bee-friendly plants on any tiny patch or pot you have. Plant trees if you have space. Manicured lawns are useless monocultures.
- Buy less, but buy better. Is it organic, is it fair trade, is it eco or ethical? Do you really need it?
- Spending time trying to make money to buy more stuff makes people dissatisfied and unhappy. Sharing what you have with friends and spending more time with them makes people happy.
- Got no friends? Volunteer somewhere to make some.
- Give to someone’s favourite charity as a gift to them this Christmas. Do they really need yet another ‘thing’?
Thinking of a nice Christmas pressie? How about a subscription to Silver Magazine? All our paper is ethically-sourced!
Finally… It all sounds so simple I know, but reducing your ‘energy’ consumption is crucial and all of these simple lifestyle changes do just that, whether it’s reducing food transport miles, turning down the heating or switching off your car engine whilst idling; all of it reduces your carbon footprint.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS CHRISTMAS
- Make sure your tree is greener than just green! 95% of Christmas trees grown in the UK are from farms that provide habitat for wildlife, so check where yours is from. Check out the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, and make sure you recycle or donate it afterwards – check with Tree Aid or your local council for schemes.
- Wrap your presents with recycled paper and string. When you unwrap your presents, don’t rip the paper off and throw it in the bin! Keep it and iron it ready for use next year.
- Reuse decorations. If you must have a new colour theme, donate your old decorations to someone who needs them, or to a charity shop.
- Reduce food waste. While it’s always easier to cook too much and let everyone help themselves, try and work out how many roast potatoes you actually need to make.
- Make sure you recycle all materials properly, from your real tree to your sweet wrappers.
- Avoid buying those 12 packs of crackers that come with a pointless plastic toy. You can buy empty crackers that you fill yourself, or you can make your own. It’s a great way to personalise the experience, and the grandkids are sure to want to get involved with anything arts and crafts!
- While the fairy lights add to the cosy factor, having the electricity on all day is costing both you and the environment. Try only having them on in the evening, or swap your mains-powered lights for battery-operated ones (and use rechargeable batteries!)
For more support and advice on doing your bit, check Atlanta’s website