We aren’t so nice to the planet, but we can be.
We can celebrate the societies, the cities and the systems we have created. There are some special things in it all, but we have to also acknowledge that we’ve really messed up.
We’ve created a system that regards money more highly than the resources we’re profiting from: the trees, the rocks, the water, the land, the animals that we use without a second thought for our own personal gain.
It isn’t really our gain though, and the fact that we don’t see that is a problem. How can any of this be beneficial to us when we’re destroying our home? New shiny things are nice, but they don’t matter if they’re ruining the most beautiful and precious things we have: the things that grow out of the ground and flow through running waters.
What do we do? How do we fix it? Perhaps the biggest problem is that we are living and functioning in a linear economy. That means we take up resources – we mine, we cut down, we harvest, then we turn it into something to sell, it’s consumed, and eventually it’s thrown away. Toothbrushes, packaging, clothes, books, furniture, the works.
We are taking far too much, using the earth as though we had another one to spare. But it can only restore itself so much. July 29 is ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ – the day we’ve used the amount of resources that are able to be renewed in one year. The second half of the year we are using what the planet cannot afford to lose.
Instead of taking just to waste, we can move towards a circular economy. One in which the only thing we put in the bin is the ‘throw away’ part of the system. We create things that are supposed to be reused, repurposed, recycled, or replenishing for the earth.
So, what can you and I do on a personal level to use the earth’s resources in a more considered way? To make our linear economy a more circular one?
Buy fewer things. Things that are made well, that are special to you. Look after them, repair them, treasure them.
Wear things that are sustainable. Vintage, repurposed, renewed. Things made from recycled materials, biodegradable materials that will feed the earth if they ever ended up unwanted.
Question. Where did this come from? What is it made of? What will happen when I’m done with it? Is there a better way? Think about the products you buy and what they’re wrapped in. Could you get this same product without the plastic?
Reuse. Buy things in bulk stores, try to remember your reusable cup, a metal straw, a tote bag. Whenever it feels easy, wonder what else you can challenge yourself to change.
Eat plants. More greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture than the combined exhaust from all transportation. If we all lived on a vegan diet, we could reduce the amount of land we needed for farming by 75%. This can and will save the planet, and lives.
Support brands and businesses who are trying to do good. Who are recycling, who think about the circularity of their product – not only where the materials they use come from, but where they will go after it’s been used.
Talk to your friends. You don’t need a following to make a difference. When you encourage others to consider the same things you are, the impact you make on an individual level can be immense. Gently ask people to consider their choices, just as you remind yourself to.
Hug a tree. It’s all pretty scary sometimes. Remember what we’re trying to protect and enjoy nature. It’s special.
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