So just before we get into this I want to say that I’m not an expert on climate change or environmentalism and haven’t applied all of these suggestions yet in my own life.
I’m a mother of two children and I just felt helpless about the future of the planet so I decided to sit down and begin thinking about the small changes that I could make one by one, once a week, once a month or once a year.
This list has given me back a sense of power and by introducing one simple action I feel like I’m making my small difference in my corner of our world. If you just do what you can do, together we can make a huge difference. We are global citizens and it’s our right to have a clean and healthy planet to live in and to leave for our children. Every little change helps.
My advice is to grab a cuppa and sit down and go through the list and tick off some things that you would like to do asap and some things you can do now. Then prioritise and give each thing a deadline. Some things can be done this week and some things may take you a few years to achieve.
For example: I’m guessing it’s going to take us a few years to get an electric family car unless prices decrease drastically in the coming years. But something my family can do in the next few weeks is to cut down our use of our car and walk and cycle more.
Just start where you are and what you can do today. When you feel overwhelmed or discouraged just pause and remind yourself of what IS working in your life and the world. There’s so much good that’s just never reported on the daily news. Then come back to the list and tick one thing off at a time as you complete it.
PLEASE add your thoughts and comments that encourage and empower us to do what we can. Also, add your ideas, this list is not complete, it’s more of a living thing that changes and grows as we add to it. So please post your suggestions. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
By reading this you are already taking action.
All my love
Shopping and household
You have the choice of where to spend your money
- Buy fairtrade goods when you can and especially if you have a choice. For a few cents more it means you are supporting products that were manufactured sustainably and that workers were paid fairly for their work. When people get paid fairly they can provide food, health care and education for their families. Education is power and helps people raise their personal awareness and gives them more choice about how they live on this planet.
- Switch your utility bill to companies that use create energy in sustainable ways i.e. Electricity generated by solar, wind or water power.
- Buy organic: If you have a choice and can stretch your budget even a little, include organic items in your daily and weekly shopping trips. If it’s a few pence more, invest in it knowing you are investing in a healthier life and future for you and your family. I look on buying organics as not having to pay for medicines later.
- Teach your kids about appropriate amounts of products to use everyday like shampoo, soap and toilet roll. Our kids don’t know these things and unless we show them no one will.
- Talk to your children, tell them what you are doing and why. Empower them to make small changes to help the planet. I.e. Use smaller amounts of products in the shower, become aware of the amount of plastic they use, turn off lights and unplug appliances.
- Buy and use safe cleaning products created carefully and without toxins, most supermarkets have a range that’s safer and your local health shop can also offer you some choices. They do cost a bit more but are an investment in your health and healthier planet, you can budget for these and introduce them gradually into your shopping.
- Make your own cleaning and beauty products, there are a million videos on youtube teaching you how to do this really inexpensively and in fact much cheaper than what you are paying right now. This step is a true act of kindness to the planet and the animal kingdom as most cosmetic companies still test their products on animals. Using your own products is healthier, safer and less expensive.
- Write a letter or email to your local supermarket and give them some suggestions on what they can do to reduce plastic items on their shelves and increase local, organic and chemical-free products in their stores.
- Ask your supermarket to switch to paper bags for fruit and vegetables and or bring your own if they take their time doing that. Use your own bags to weigh fruit and vegetables. Brings bags and containers to your supermarket and local store. Use lifelong bags or other sturdy long-lasting containers for carrying your shopping.
- Reduce the amount of household product you use by half. Washing powder, washing liquid, soap, shampoo, most of these products are actually highly concentrated and we don’t need to use as much as we do. We can actually save tons of money over the years by making this one small change. In a family of four, this is a huge saving on our family grocery bill and it really helps to reduce the number of toxic detergents going into the planet.
- Stop buying single-use plastic items and reduce as much as impossible. Just commit to trying to get a plastic-free household within a year or a set time period and miracles can happen when you have a goal and focus. And no judgement as I said ANY progress is still progress, just do your best and make your goals achievable (as of this writing, I really don’t actually know how achievable it actually is to have a plastic-free home but I am willing to explore it.
- Start using a moon cup or menstrual cup and reduce or eliminate sanitary items like towels, pads and tampons. These all contain harmful chemicals and bleaches that should be nowhere near your body never mind your intimate parts. (Nearly a million women have joined this movement) Choose an organic one that’s uncoloured. This one simple act will reduce tons of unnecessary waste going to landfill every day all over the world. And it’s so much healthier for you and your daughters.
- Donate to charities that support the earth. Tree sisters, WWF, Rainforest Alliance, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Earth Justice. Do a google search and find out which ones are close to your heart and that you’d like to support.
- Buy shares and invest in companies that care about the planet and are making a real difference. Either buy shares in these companies or spend your money buying their products and services.
- Use your voice and your social media platform. Each of us now uses at least one social media platform and we have a following no matter how big or small, you have a group of family and friends that will read your posts and it’s important to share with them what you are doing without blame or judgement. Show what you are doing in your daily posts and stories so others can see that and decide to do it too or not.
For example: when you do your weekly shop take a photo of the amount of plastic packaging that’s leftover and share it on your FB story calling out the supermarket chain you just shopped in and asking them what they are doing to change.
- Buy good quality clothing (or buy organic or ethically produced) that although may cost more initially lasts much longer in better condition. This also reduces stuff going to landfill
- Buy 2nd hand clothes, swap clothes with friends and family, repair and adjust clothes rather than throwing them away.
- Shop consciously and don’t impulse buy anymore. Go with a list and a budget and stick to it. Only go the shops when you have something to buy not to browse.
- Create a capsule wardrobe and also choose a minimal amount of colours that really suit you that you love to wear. This reduces the energy used in just making decisions every day and makes it easier to shop for clothing as well.
- Invest in a stylist day out or get a wardrobe consultation. This is someone who can tell you what colours and styles actually suit and compliment your body shape and skin tone. I invested in this years ago and it saved me thousands of euros every year in clothes that didn’t fit or do anything for me. It also cut down the time I spent shopping and the number of clothes that went into landfill.
Small actions and changing habits make a big difference
- Instead of paper towels to mop up your messes around the kitchen and house, embrace a cloth napkin system.
- STOP using throw away party plates, cups, straws and cutlery especially if it’s plastic! I know it’s handy but it’s so awful for the planet. I invested in hard wearing plastic years ago (now I would buy bamboo or something else but there wasn’t that choice then) and I use and reuse them at every single party or family occasion.
- At Christmas consider using very simple wrapping paper, brown paper can look beautiful with a simple bow or decoration. Every year tons of wrapping paper ends up in landfill, as most of it is not recyclable and is just pure waste.
- Reduce the number of gifts you actually buy or receive each year on birthdays or special occasions, including kids toys, clothes and household items. Consider asking for donations instead, to a charity that supports a better environment.
- Turn off lights and unplug appliances at night and when they are not in use. They don’t need to be plugged in and although they consume a tiny amount of energy, add that to every single house in your estate and community and it’s actually a huge amount of energy completely wasted that you are paying for. It also feels really good to literally ‘unplug’ when going to bed.
- Consider minimalism, learn about it and embrace the power of ONE. The truth is that we just buy too much stuff and then we throw away so much stuff every year. There are many experts on youtube that can help with this I love listening to the Minimal Mom as she speaks about how to become a minimalist family.
- Stop flying or cut out unnecessary air travel and become aware of what air emissions are produced in the air travel you do and how that affects your health and our planet.
- Reduce the use of your car, walk and cycle when you can. It’s good for you and good for the planet. And get your car serviced regularly to have cleaner fuels going out into our atmosphere.
- Reduce to a one family car and consider using public transport and cycling if your school or workplace is nearby. Also consider switching to an electric car at some stage. Even if it looks like you can’t afford it right now, make it a goal so you personally reduce emissions if you use a car everyday.
- Become educated about the food that you eat and the ingredients on the back of every product you buy.
I suffered with migraines for years that continued to increase in severity and frequency until I was sick for 3 to 4 days almost every week. I eventually discovered through my own research that it was the ingredient MSG (often disguised and listed as YEAST EXTRACT) that was causing the migraines. I eliminated that the headaches disappeared almost overnight!
The general rule of thumb I use is if it doesn’t sound like a food then it’s a chemical and I don’t need it in my body. Ie. Carrot is good, saccharin, aspartame and E numbers are generally bad.
- Become educated on the products you buy that don’t have an ingredients list on the back like fruit and vegetables. There are a huge amount of toxic pesticides sprayed on ALL fruit and veg that aren’t organic. Even ‘organic’ vegetables may have some pesticides on them, that your particular country has allowed to be classed as organic. Most of this may be unregulated and untested and the negative impact on your health can come many years later and you won’t necessarily recognize that it was from these contaminants in your food.
- Grow your own vegetables and fruit. Create a small garden and learn to work with nature to produce at least some of your food.
- Reduce or avoid altogether soft and fizzy drinks especially energy drinks. They are literally liquid sugary syrup with additives that are awful for your health especially if you consume them on a regular basis. They usually packed in plastic bottles which are not good for the environment
- Shop local and buy foods that grown locally and in your country or as near to you as possible. The farther away the food travels to get to you, the more pesticides they contain that are harmful to you and the planet. Travel equals fossil fuels used. This supports your local butcher, flower shop and grocery and fruit and veg shop. It may cost a bit more but it’s actually taking some power back in where you buy your food.
- Reduce waste, we throw out tons of stuff each year. In a google search, it said: ‘Some 88 million tonnes of food is wasted in the EU every year, equivalent to 173 kilos per person. Not only is this a waste of resources, but it also contributes to climate change.’
- Start meal planning, and using a budget for your weekly groceries. This has been life-changing for me and my family. When I do it we eat much healthier, there’s less waste and it costs less.
- Support your local farmers market and bring your own containers
- Reduce your consumption of meat and animal products or consider becoming a vegetarian or vegan. If we could truly see the amount of animal cruelty in producing animal products it would break our hearts. We just wouldn’t be able to continue to eat meat if we really dared to look at how cruel this actually is. The increased demand for animal products and animal agriculture, in general, is having a huge negative impact on our environment, it’s a topic too big to be covered here, Go get educated and make an informed decision about what you are actually eating and the impact it is having on your health and the future of our planet.
- Cook in bulk and freeze some for later. It takes almost the same amount of energy to cook a double portion of food and freeze some for later. This simple step saves energy and time and provides nutritious meals for you and your family when you are on a tight schedule. Educate yourself on the topic of Zero waste.
- Stop buying new things, reuse and repair items to make them last longer and buy second-hand items.
- Make your own beauty products including moisturiser, deodorants and toothpaste can all be made from natural products.
- Use natural products in your garden and natural solutions for pest and insect control.
- Change your mindset and approach to shopping. Ask yourself what can I personally do to reverse climate change in my daily and weekly shop. I.e. Bring your own containers, cycle or walk to the shop, resolve to increase the number of organic goods every time you go shopping.
- Conserve WATER! Consider creating a simple homemade low flush toilet. If you have a cistern fill up a bottle with water and put it inside, it will reduce the amount of water in each flush. I used this for years when we lived in Ireland. One year we had a broken pipe and everyone could only use their own tank of water for about a week. Lots of people in our estate ran out of water in a few days, we were fine and never ran out because we always used less anyway. Or switch to a composting toilet if you can.
Raising your awareness, educating yourself and speaking up
- Read the IPCC report, this is a report that the world’s best scientists have come together and gathered all of the available data to give us the latest information about climate change.
- Support leaders in climate change and anyone who is not afraid to speak out to world leaders and demand action. Jane Goodhall, Gretta Thunberg, Sir Richard Attenborough to name a few. Google them and see who is doing it in the world and also in your local community and support them or become a leader in your community.
- Use your voice and decide to take your place at the table and take part in conversations about climate change. Join your local committees, and council, centres. Write a column in your local newspaper. This is not a political issue this is a community issue and a global issue. It’s affecting YOU and your family now and you do have a voice.
- Join #Fridaysforfuture and if you are physically able to go to your nearest government buildings and strike for the action to stop climate change. Every Friday millions of students and their families are striking and refusing to go to school, instead, they are marching outside their government buildings demanding a shift in policies and action. If you can’t go yourself then post something online to support the cause.
- Make suggestions (no blaming). Anger can be temporarily useful if it propels you into action but in the long term, it becomes blaming and dissolves your power. And give it away in victim energy. REMEMBER you are powerful and you can make a difference. Every small step is compounded is a huge improvement. All progress is progress. Focus most of your energy and time on what’s working and what you can do.
- Write to your politicians and ask them what they are doing, give them suggestions and let them know what you want to see happen in your country. One or two emails may be easy to ignore, a few hundred are not so easy to ignore and a few million becomes impossible to ignore. Together we can do so much.
- Educate yourself about factors that are affecting your environment. Find out about fracking, what does it look like in a factory farm and how are your eggs actually produced? How are the animals treated, killed and butchered for your food? What are they actually eating (Animals are routinely given a large number of antibiotics in farming. This may mean we are consuming antibiotics when we consume animals. Antibiotics directly impact our health and lower our immune systems when used over time and unnecessarily. I’m not an expert but isn’t this common sense?)
- Educate yourself about where the products and services you use come from and get active in asking for change where it’s needed. How are the cashew nuts you’re eating actually produced and where are they from? Your smartphone has a battery that needs cobalt, learn how it’s actually collected and how much the miners actually get paid. Are the cosmetics you use tested on animals? Find out and switch brands to one that doesn’t!
Final note from Aishling:
Above are all of the practical things you can do, but there’s also emotional, mental and spiritual things you can do. Maybe first realize that the earth is a living being and in many cultures is recognised as our Mother. Our Mother has taken care of us and now we need to take care of her. She loves us and wants the best for us.
We can come together in communities, we can pray and meditate and share love and kindness with each other and the planet and every being alive right now.
We can do our very best and be kind to ourselves.
I really believe that humans are good and that we wouldn’t intentionally harm our planet or each other and given the chance we can turn this around.
With awareness, love and intentional action we can change the world.
Love Aishling x
P.s. Leave me a comment and let us know how this resonates with you. What actions are you going to take and which ones would you add to this list?
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