Let’s be honest, when we talk about saving the planet we don’t really mean the planet. After all the planet will look after itself, it has for the billions of years it’s already been around. We don’t even really mean how to save the amazing, glorious, generous ecosystem that is nature. What we really mean is how do we save ourselves!
Somehow we’ve divorced ourselves from both the planet and nature. It’s as if we see our planet as a pyramid with us at the top, lording it over everything else below as if we aren’t part of nature at all, seeing ourselves as separate. What we seem to have forgotten is that we need this world, this earth, this nature. And we need it more than it needs us!
There’s an interesting film on YouTube that looks at what would happen if humans just disappeared, you know all of us were just not here anymore (Aftermath: Population Zero The World Without Humans). What the film points to are the negative things that would happen if we just upped and left in the beginning. The nuclear reactors would meltdown, the farm animals and pets that would starve, the nature that would be destroyed. But very soon into what we might think is a disaster because we’re no longer around, the planet begins to heal. Over time you’d never know we’d been here.
So, it’s not the planet we need to save. It’s us. And to save us, we need to make some changes otherwise, things will get messy and challenging and we may not make it as a species.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to saving ourselves and they can broadly be explained by the following statements:
- We must buy a different, more ecologically friendly brand of cotton buds
- Big corporations must pay taxes that can be funnelled into environmental projects
And whilst I would like to say, yes, those are both things we could do, should do, it ignores the bigger questions about the way we live our lives, especially here in the West. So I thought I’d set out 10 steps we can all take if we are so minded:
- If we want less plastic in the oceans we must produce and use less plastic. Given that pretty much everything we buy comes in plastic, the only way to change this is for manufacturers to stop using it. They will only stop using it if we stop buying things that come in plastic packaging.
- Try buying less ‘tutt’. Tutt is my name for the stuff I really don’t need. You know things like the Halloween masks, costumes and wind-up toys in Christmas stockings.
- Stop buying expensive electronics in different colour schemes? We don’t need them, but we’re sold them because people buy them. One particularly annoying advert is the Dyson advert for hair care gadgets in Prussian blue! Who needs something in Prussian Blue?
- Let’s not buy multiple gadgets that all do the same thing. You know the phone and the watch and the laptop and the tablet. It’ll be the shoe, the clothes, the glasses next. Not only can we save ourselves by consuming fewer resources but we can also reduce the amount of time we are both connected to, and monitored by, technology!
- Shop local. The high street is dying because we buy online from big corporations that don’t care what happens to the communities impacted. Yes, I know people work for those big corporations. But think of the jobs that would be created in our local areas if we turned our back on those big faceless corporations.
- Ask the question, do I really need ten different varieties of tomato to choose from. The answer is NO by the way!
- Use your local charity shops. Donate the things you don’t need. Buy the things you do. You’ll have less choice, but choice is not the benefit it seems, it contributes to the challenges we face.
- Make reusable your mantra instead of recyclable.
- Rethink your beauty regime. I listened in to a conversation between a friend and her daughter whilst shopping for a face scrub about four years ago. My friend’s daughter said why don’t you just use a flannel Mum. Wow, talk about out of the mouth of babes! I’ve used a flannel and an old fashioned bar of soap ever since.
- Question everything. Offsetting carbon is not a sustainable approach to our survival as a species. Corporations dress up what they do in environmental terms whilst selling us stuff we really don’t need.
We are powerful, and if we acted in concert we can change the tide. Business changes in relation to what it thinks customers want. If we don’t buy the plastic, the tutt, the 10,000 varieties of something they will stop producing them because it becomes unprofitable to do so.
But like everything, we have to want to do this. If we don’t want to do it then nothing changes. And if nothing changes we only have ourselves to blame when it all goes up in smoke!
Oh, and yes, I am perfectly aware of the irony of me writing this post, I know I’m not perfect either!
Rant over! 🙂
Update 14th January 2022:
Whilst I was originally writing this post I also happened to be reading a book by research ecologist Tom Moorhouse, Elegy for a River, and if you want to really put things into perspective you might find it both fascinating, interesting, disheartening and hopeful all at the same time.
Beyond the scope of the research he was doing he also talks about the cost of conservation and one, not so conservative estimate puts it at about $100 billion dollars every year to save the ecosystems we rely on. Now that sounds like a very large amount of money, but it’s just 1/3 the amount that Americans spend on carbonated drinks every year.
Yep, that’s right for less than the cost of one country’s spend on carbonated drinks we could save the planet and ourselves! Let that sink in for a minute, before heading out to get the book. I borrowed my copy from the local library – you could do that same too. But if you want to buy it, you can do so on bookshop.org.
(Picture courtesy: qimono / 502 images @ Pixabay)