21 May 2012

We all make a difference

There have been many claims about how our future will be shaped by the end of cheap fuel and increasing prices that will result from that. Of course, no one knows for sure what will happen in the future but anyone who takes any notice will know that for the past few years, fuel prices have been increasing and along with it the cost of living.This is bad news for those who rely on their cars to get around but as prices rise, fewer kilometres will be driven and it will help reduce the amount of pollutants coming from these emissions. Increasing fuel prices also impacts substantially on the price of food and clothing and almost everything we buy. All those products are delivered via a system that runs on fuel and often use fuel and/or electricity at some point during manufacture as well. 

I'm very sad to report that Australia is the seventh-worst polluter on Earth

We often focus on ways to reduce the cost of our grocery bills but what else can we do to help reduce greenhouse gasses.
  1. Stop buying water in plastic bottles.
  2. Refuse to accept plastic shopping bags. Make cotton tote bags and net fruit and vegetable bags, and use them.
  3. Replace as many of the disposable products you use in the home with alternatives, such as handmade dishcloths.
  4. Stop buying over-packaged products and tell the manager of the shop why you're not buying it. We have to start talking and complaining about this because it won't change unless we do.
  5. Buy in bulk when you can. Ask family and friends if they want to buy with you so you can all save money (and gasses).
  6. Reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible. 
  7. Learn to sew and mend.
  8. Recycle mobile phones, ink cartridges and any of your old computer equipment that can be recycled.
  9. If you have appliances that use batteries, use rechargeable batteries.
  10. Shop at second-hand shops and garage sales.
  11. Use public transport, car pool, ride a bike or walk.
  12. Cook from scratch - buy ingredients that can be used for several meals, not just one. This will cut down on the packaging you bring into your home and you'll know what's in your food.
  13. Stop buying convenience foods and processed foods. 
  14. Buy fruit and vegetables that you prepare at home - not pre-washed salads and pre-cut fruit.
  15. Eat less meat.
  16. If you have land, use it - plant vegetables, nuts and fruit.
  17. Focus on buying seasonally and what is local.
  18. Make compost with your vegetable and yard waste. Start a worm farm or use a bokashi.
  19. Before you turn on the air-conditioner or heater, put on or take off, layers of clothes.
  20. Wash your clothes with cold water. 
  21. Hang your clothes outside to dry. 
  22. Stop buying cleaning products and make your own. Use vinegar, bicarb and soap.
  23. Produce more of what you use at home.

I am firmly convinced that we do make a difference by changing our own behaviour. That ripple effect can be quite powerful. Don't take the easy way out and think it's not worth doing anything because you're only one person. Every "one person" got us to this point, it will take an equal effort from every one person to turn the tide again.

And don't forget, be satisfied with what you can do. If you can't do some of the things on the list above, or your own list, be grateful for the things you can do. Everything you do makes a contribution to the problem. Of course the good news is that if we carry out a focused and prolonged personal campaign in our own homes to do our bit towards reducing green house gasses, we'll also be living a healthier and thriftier life - these things go hand in hand.

The schools in Australia seem to have a good understanding on how to teach children the ins and outs of a healthier planet. The young children I talk to certainly know a lot more about these problems than their parents do, and they know the simple ways we can all work towards a solution. Is that the same in your country as well? If you work for a living, does your workplace have some sort of sustainability policy? What are you doing in your home and backyard?

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