Last week, in The Calanques National Park near Marseille, I marvelled at the stunning sights and gifts the earth brings. How connected you can suddenly subconsciously feel to the beat of its heart when you take off your shoes and lay the soles of your feet on dirt, water or rock. We belong to this place and it belongs to us, but it is clear this is a fact our species has long forgotten.
When it comes to the issues of global warming and general disharmony between humans and the planet, the list of causes and effects are sometimes overwhelming - causing most of us to ostrich our heads in the sand in hopes it might all go away without us having to instigate change.
Due to our past and current behaviours, at the rate we’re currently going, during this century, our planet is set to hit an increased warming of more than 2°C, bringing us to the danger zone of 3°C (+). Though such a minimalistic increase seems insignificant, it’s ramifications are immense; setting into motion a sort of post-apocalyptic state in which 30% of animals will be at risk of extinction, oceans will acidify, wildfires will get bigger, droughts more severe, and entire countries could disappear due to sea level rise.
Though the issues are vast, and most involve intense political action, there are solutions available for every damn thing, it just takes us as individuals to make small actions that instigate change. It may seem that little 'ole you can't cause change, but it is through collective action that the seeds of change multiply, burst into bloom, and monumentally ripple across previously untouched and forgotten plains.
To reduce the anxiety induced by the overwhelming amount of habit edits required by us on a daily basis, I've broken down som achievable goals to work on through a week-by-week plan of action (in no particular order). As there are 35 weeks left until Christmas, I figured 35 problems and solutions were enough to begin 'being the change', so you can track your progress and cross off your 'to do' list over the weeks this year still has to offer.
- 35 EASY WAYS YOU CAN HELP SAVE THE PLANET -
[WEEK 1] BREAK UP WITH FAST FASHION
It's Fashion Revolution Week starting Monday so you'll find all sorts of creative #haulternatives on their site HERE and just about every sustainable fashion blogger from Ethical Influencer Network and Ethical Writers Coalition will be sharing stories all next week too. You can watch my #Haulternatives from last year on my youtube channel HERE.
[WEEK 2] STOP BUYING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES
It takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce 30 billion water bottles, it also takes more water to produce a bottle of water than the bottle itself withhold, plus, the plastics the bottle is made of, like all plastics, will never decompose. Get yourself a reusable water bottle to carry with you on the go. You can read more about the issues and solutions HERE, or watch my Zero Waste VLOG HERE.
[WEEK 3] DONATE
For when you're dealing with everyday life and unable to fight the good fight, there are not-for-profit organisations researching and lobbying on the planet's behalf. Shane and I currently have recurring monthly donations to GREENPEACE, EARTH JUSTICE and THE ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP.
[WEEK 4] SIGN UP TO PAY VOLUNTARY CARBON TAX
The idea of carbon tax is the ‘polluter pays principle' which was incorporated into international law at the 1992 Rio Summit, but not really put into effect. It's like the tax on cigarettes, those who smoke pay a high tax which in turn has caused people to consume less and covered the associated costs caused by the negative side effects on people and society. I've chosen to pay a voluntary carbon tax, for my family (my husfriend and I), and both of us travel often, we pay $22.28 per month. You can read more about it HERE.
[WEEK 5] SWITCH TO AN ETHICAL BANK
Currently, conventional banks are among the biggest investors in the causes of climate change. Almost all of the big banks we’re familiar with (and likely do our banking with) have been accused of tax avoidance, financing the arms trade and investing in oil and nuclear industries, amongst other evils. By divesting from the bad banks you're taking their power away. You can read more in the blog post HERE or you can watch me ramble on the VLOG instead.
[WEEK 6] STOP USING STRAWS
Plastic straws have caused huge pains to animals, if you’ve seen this youtube video of a plastic straw stuck in a tortoise’s nose, you’ll understand why it’s such a selfish product for us to use. Straws are hugely harmful to the environment and to wildlife, yet each day we use 500 million straws, enough to fill over 46,400 large school buses per year. Get a reusable straw or say 'no' to straws (read more HERE), and you can save little turtles like THIS.
[WEEK 7] STOP USING CHEMICAL BEAUTY PRODUCTS
There are some major issues for the planet and your health with most conventional beauty products. Our bodies acquire nutrients in two ways: through our mouths and through our skin, so much so that 60% of the substances we put on our skin are eventually absorbed into our bloodstream. The average woman uses 12 beauty products in the morning alone, which adds up to 100s of chemicals every single day, many of which are potentially harmful. In the past two decades, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 ingredients where the US has only banned 11. Check your products out on EWG, it is the not-for-profit (I donate $15 a month to them) and I use their app regularly. It allows you to check out the ingredients to find out the personal health risks my beauty products (cleaning products and food) pose to me. You can read more in my eco-beauty section HERE.
There are a ridiculous amount of chemicals in our cleaning products which harm the planet in their production and when we use them, harm our health, and pollute the air in our home too. You can check out the products you're using on EWG to find greener options, or try making your own on my blogger buddy Chloe's blog HERE. For laundry check out this post HERE.
[WEEK 9] BREAK UP WITH PLASTIC FOOD WRAP
Plastic wrap is derived from crude oil. Most plastic wrap is not recyclable and ends up in the landfill or incinerator. In the landfill the toxins from the plastics leach into the soil and water disrupting the ecosystem and wildlife. When burnt, poisonous gases are released into the air. BPAs are also leached into your food too. It's a major issue and there are simple solutions which will save you money too. You can read more HERE.
[WEEK 10] FIND A NEW WAY 'TO-GO'
There are various reasons why accepting plastic or styrofoam 'to-go' containers is, to put it bluntly, inacceptable. It's also very difficult to avoid in the to-go culture we have so happily embraced (myself included). Both plastic and styrofoam cause harm to the planet and her inhabitants from cradle-to-cradle. The production of both releases known human carcinogens and pollutive substances into the air (it also uses an incredible amount of energy and water), then when we use them, the chemicals and carcinogens leach into our food and we digest these health harmers into our bodies. Following that, we discard of them, even if they make it into the recycling, each one is near impossible to recycle, and they end up in the landfill, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, for the wildlife to ingest (which kills them). You can read more about the issues and find links to the REUSABLE TO-GO CONTAINER solutions that I recommend HERE.
[WEEK 11] BREAK UP WITH DISPOSABLE CUTLERY
The biggest environmental impact of disposables happens before you buy the product in its creation, but unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Typically, disposable cutlery is made from a type of plastic known as polystyrene 1, more commonly known as Styrofoam, a product which is difficult to recycle. In fact, even if you are thoughtful enough to put it in the recycling bin, it will most likely end up in the landfill anyways as most municipalities don’t offer Styrofoam recycling. In the US, only 6% of all plastic waste is recycled, an incredibly low number considering how much is carefully sorted to be included. You can learn more about the issues and (scroll tot he bottom of this link for ) solutions HERE.
[WEEK 12] STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. They're created with toxic chemicals which are released into the atmosphere from production to demise. They add to the five gyres which are dispersed throughout the world's oceans. In plastic tested from The North Pacific Gyre, 40% contained pesticides like DDT, 50% contained PCB (banned by the U.S congress in 1979 for having various neurotoxic effects) and 80% contained PAHs (carcinogens). Once in the Oceans, these plastics break down into smaller microplastics are ingested by marine life (we're not sure whether it takes 1,000 years to decompose, or whether it ever really decomposes at all). You can read more about the issues and scroll to the bottom of the post
[WEEK 13] VOTE
From town hall meetings to your country's leader, the best way to protect the environment is by voting in people who care about saving it and who are going to press for positive policy. By voting, you are letting the powers that be know what you care about. At the end of the day our politicians are our representatives and, in my opinion, there is no greater issue than the one which faces our planet, as, without a place for our species to live, all our other issues we face won't matter.
[WEEK 14] GET A REUSABLE COFFEE CUP
Most in the western world, including myself, have gotten to-go coffees in to-go cups numerous times in our lives. The problem is coffee cups take 50 years to break down due to the polyurethane plastic which keeps the paper cup intact. This is true for Starbucks and every other company selling to-go coffees anywhere in the world, even your local hipster joint with those clever quotes and moustached men are contributing to the problem. Get a reusable coffee mug and carry her with you wherever you go. You can read more about the issues and solutions HERE, or watch my Zero Waste VLOG HERE.
[WEEK 15] GET REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS
Stop using plastic bags and paper bags when you go shopping to reduce (or eradicate) the waste you create. The mesh ones are great for produce and the cloth ones are great for grains, nuts, dried fruit, flour, and smaller things. I keep about 5 in my bag at all times in case I end up going shopping randomly or buy a baked good on the go, or bread, ect ... you can read more HERE.
[WEEK 16] BRUSH WITH BAMBOO
It takes over 1,000 years fo a single toothbrush to decompose. And that's being optimistic. We tend to replace our toothbrushes every 3 months in the Western world, with additional replacements if we get sick. Which means Billions of plastic toothbrushes reach landfills globally each year, and they will never biodegrade. You can read more and find bamboo toothbrush vendors in your country HERE.
[WEEK 17] REUSABLE RAZOR
If you're shaving, lady or gent, it's better to do so with a reusable razor. In the US, two billion disposable razors go to landfill each year (in the US). Because they’re made of plastics that do not break down. In fact, each piece of plastic ever created is still in existence, which is why it is no surprise multiple gyres of floating plastic, as big as the U.S.A, have swelled up in our oceans. You can read more HERE and you'll find a list of reusable or recyclable razors HERE at the bottom of the post.
[WEEK 18] REUSABLE WIPES
Using cotton rounds or pads to remove makeup or apply toner ect ... is wasteful. Cotton requires a shit ton of water to grow. For every 200 grammes of cotton, it takes about 7.5 bathtubs of water to produce it. And that water comes from the freshwater sources of the local community. With non-organic cotton, of that 200 grammes, an additional 150 grammes of hazardous pesticides are used and that 7.5 bathtubs of water used to grow the non-organic cotton, becomes tainted by the chemicals in the pesticides. That fresh water (now waste water) then runs back into the land and water, poisoning wildlife, crops, and the people who live in the community. Causing malnutrition, birth defects, cancers, and DNA mutation to current and future generations. Read more HERE and find solutions at the bottom of the post HERE. Or you can watch the youtube video HERE.
[WEEK 19] PROTEST
Though protesting doesn't seem like the sexiest of things to some, joining in on local (peaceful) protests does help make your voice heard and inspires those around the world.
I try (and fail) to read a book a month, and alternate between fiction and non-fiction just to create a healthy balance. My blogger buddy Tortoise And Lady Grey has created an ethical activist book club that is worth joining for sure, I've also created a collection of books starting on page 4 of my amazon book shop (I get a few cents if you buy through these links!). You can check out my bookshop HERE.
[WEEK 21] SWITCH UP YOUR FLOSS
Conventional dental floss, the stuff we all have in our bathrooms - unless we’ve made a conscious effort not to - is made from waxed nylon, which is derived from crude oil (a non-renewable resource). Unlike plastic, it ONLYtakes about 30-80 years to decompose. That nylon is then rolled up into a small plastic box, which takes about500 – 1,000 years to decompose all on its lonesome. To top it off, the discarded floss jams pumps in sewage treatment facilities, (don't put your floss down the toilet!) a shitty job (pun intended) for those city workers lucky enough to detangle our discards. Read more and find links to the solutions HERE, or watch the vlog post HERE.
Educating and inspiring yourself to make changes I haven't covered or discovered is a huge part of living greener. these are some of my favourite documentaries to date.
True Cost (netflix)
The Cove (amazon)
Blackfish (on netflix)
RECCOMENDED TED TALKS
RECCOMENDED YOUTUBE VIDEOS
[WEEK 23] EAT ORGANIC, LOCAL, AND IN SEASON
Foods which grow near you which ripens during the season that is upon you, is going to be the foods that give you the ideal vitamins and nutrients your body needs. It's also logical that food produced near you is more likely to be produced by people paying fair wages and will omit less greenhouse gases on its journey from the soil to your mouth. It’s a pretty easy thing to do and costs less too. All you’ve got to do is follow some simple steps and you’ll be part of a movement tout de suite, you can read the full post HERE on how to make the change.
[WEEK 25] ECO-FY YOUR EARS
Traditionally, Q-tips / cotton swabs / ear buds stocks are made with plastic, a byproduct of the oil industry which takes a quarter of a human lifespan to breakdown, harming all sorts of wildlife along the way. It's an unnecessary evil which can and should be vehemently avoided. The buds themselves are made of cotton, which is biodegradable but comes at a cost. All conventional cotton from your t-shirts to your cotton swabs are grown with pesticides and huge amounts of water which pollute the cotton, the farmers, the waterways, soil, and the communities which surround the farms, causing a myriad of diseases, including cancer, nervous system issues, reproductive problems, neurological disorders, Parkinson's disease, childhood leukemia, lymphoma, asthma and more. You can read more about biodegradable organic cotton q-tips or reusable bamboo sticks HERE, or watch the vlog HERE.
[WEEK 26] LADIES, DETOX YOUR BOX
Pads and tampons contain plastic chemicals and BPA's that can cause a plethora of unwanted diseases, namely heart disease and cancer. Similar to fabric in clothing, cotton in pads and tampons has traces of pesticides and GMOS which are absorbed into your blood system and can affect your reproductive system. To top it off, the plastics in these products won't break down, which means all of the 16,800 tampons each woman is estimated to have used in her lifetime will end up in the landfill wreaking havoc on the environment. Menstrual visits alone bring an estimated 200,000 tonnes of garbage to the landfill each year. You can find links to the solutions HERE and watch the vlog HERE.
[WEEK 27] BOYCOTT
Don't buy products produced by companies doing bad things. and use your If you are staying informed, you will undoubtedly find things you don't like in your local or federal systems, political or otherwise. There are physical protests which involve taking to the streets, there are civil disobediences, there are boycotts and there are interpersonal protests in which you engage with someone in (a two-way) conversation about something you find unserving to the greater good. As far as boycotts go, you can defund the enemy normally. There is a list HERE going around about what companies to pull your money and purchases from in order to defund the dufus known as Trump, while I've also
[WEEK 28] SAY NO TO PALM-OIL
The eco and ethical issues of palm-oil are vast and happening throughout the world. Though Indonesia isn't the only country burning down forests to make way for plantations, their rate of deforestation surpasses that of any other country. Thus far, they've cleared an area of rainforest as large as Germany. And as if the ecological issues and damage to wildlife isn't enough, oil-palm workers are clubbing orangutangs to death in exchange for this product. Most large companies we get our beauty products from ignore these issues and most consumers aren't aware they're even supporting this level of mistreatment. It's estimated palm oil is found in half the manufactured goods in any supermarket or drug store, from chocolate to beauty products. You can look up the names Palm-Oil is often disguised as on this site (choosecrueltyfree.org.au/palm-oil-list/) and help influence reduction in production as well as aid in policy change by involving yourself in educating your friends and other members of the public. Learn more about Palm Oil free living on Selva Beat HERE.
[WEEK 29] BUY RECYCLED TOILET PAPER / GET A BIDET
ONE tree makes about 1,000 rolls of toilet paper ... Americans use an average of 7 billion rolls per year (twice as much as Europeans, because, portions, probably)... so that's 7 million trees for America's asses alone ... never mind the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the nasties don't even stop there. Toilet paper industries use chlorine and chlorine dioxide to bleach out the wood. This process creates cancer-causing chemicals such as dioxins and furans, which fly up into the air and spread themselves around. Read more about the solutions HERE or watch the vlog post HERE.
Volunteering is probably the most intrinsically motivating way to participate in and support your community and the planet. Whatever it is that you feel aligns with your highest level of empathy - whether it is political, ecological, social, religious - find a way to spend your time with people who share your passions and who will inspire you and inform you.
[WEEK 31] NO / LESS MEAT
Global Warming is caused by CO2, yes, but also caused by methane, which is 70 times more damaging per tonne to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2, and is formed in the burps and bottom ends of animals (mainly beef) used to produce meat and dairy on a factory level. The greenest and kindest way to eat is to avoid animal products altogether, but if you absolutely must have flesh between your teeth staying away from red meat altogether will help slightly reduce methane emissions as well. Watch the documentary Before The Flood to learn more.
[WEEK 32] ADJUST YOUR ENERGY
In the United States and elsewhere around the world, power from clean energy is already on offer. In general, all you need to do is sign up for it, with most power companies offering a premium for sourcing the power you use from renewables. By making this choice, you’re not only investing in clean energy sources but also signalling to your state and federal politicians that you vote for a greener future. If you own your home, it may be worthwhile to contact MyDomino (mydomino.com) which acts as a green energy concierge by providing a personalised path towards 100% clean energy for your home. Read the full post(s) on My Domino HERE.
[WEEK 33] BUY LESS
While the minimalist movement may not be for all, there are ways to adjust your lifestyle so you just consume less. Buying items second-hand, vintage, renting swapping, buying investment pieces (stuff that's well made) and just avoiding the industry of over consumption is a good skill to be made. When it comes to food, do a meal plan so you're buying what you need and reducing waste. Unroll yourself (click HERE for the program that does it for you) from quick click consumerism by mass unsubscribing from newsletters which urge you to buy things you don't need. I've got a step-by-step process for buying less HERE.
[WEEK 34] GET FACTUAL INFO ON THE WORLD
Facebook is not a great source for news, though I'm as guilty as the next person for being drawn to click through. I found THIS Chrome extension via my blogger buddy Eco Cult which will flag fake news sites, as well as this extension which tells you the bias of what you're reading. Eco Cult is a huge advocate for journalism being crucial to the environmental movement as well, and rightly so, it is through their research, investigations, digestion and delivery that people like you and me are able to hold those who do the environment and our communities wrong, to account. Get a subscription to a local, national newspaper or magazine that is credible and unbiased so you can form opinions and get information the way it was intended to be obtained. You can read Eco Cult's article on Earth Day HERE and Protecting The Environment HERE for more information.
[WEEK 35] ENHANCE YOUR EMPATHY
Caring for the world and the species who inhabit it involves empathy first and foremost. We'll all be affected by climate change, but some will be affected more than others and to care about the 'other' we have to enhance our empathy wholeheartedly and regularly. I started watching Yann Arthus-Bertrand's newest film Humans (it's free to watch!), it won't change the world but it might change us as individuals. Send it to your family members who have displayed apathy through their voting choices or in their daily lives, and watch it yourself to feel 'all the feels' so you might enhance your own empathy as well.
PHOTOS: Shane Woodward (copyright)