Last year I published this list of practical and positive things you can do in your everyday life, to make the world a better place. With 2017 now coming to an end it seemed fitting to revisit this post and set some personal goals for the coming year. So here it is again, in case you missed it the first time around or if you need a refresher, 10 things you can do, that will have an ethically positive impact.
1. Plant trees for free everytime you use the internet
Back in 2016 I wrote about a fab web browser called Ecosia. You can read the article here, but essentially, its a free browser and app you can download for your computer and devices, that plants trees on your behalf every time you use it. So far this initiative has planted over 18 MILLION trees in developing and rural communities. Its completely free for you and works just the same as your current browser (Google, safari, etc). You can find out more and get the links to download the browser for your computer and the app for your phone, from my original article here.
2. Make a direct impact with ‘Lend with Care’
We all have our favourite charities and causes that are close to our heart, that we support either financially, or in other, practical ways. From past experience volunteering and mentoring, I know that helping directly is so much more rewarding, so when I came across ‘Lend with Care’ it immediately appealed. It is an initiative that allows you to lend whatever amount you choose, (£15 minimum) to small businesses in the world’s poorest communities, directly helping these people out of poverty. It may be that these business owners require money to purchase stock, or land, or to fund a new employee, but you lend the money and eventually the loan is repaid back to you, which you can either withdraw or reinvest into another business. Its a really lovely idea and helps people in a dignified way, there are around 200 worthy causes to explore and support, check out more at Lendwithcare.org
3. Ask your favourite brands, “Who made my clothes?”
Be a part of the Fashion Revolution campaign – not-for-profit company that is campaigning for transparency in the world of fast fashion – to encourage brands to use sustainable methods to protect our planet, and for fair pay and working conditions for all of those involved in the supply chain. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy email, pretty much every brand uses Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so why not drop them a picture of your outfit or the label and ask them “Who made my clothes?” using the hashtags #whomademyclothes and #fashionrevolution
4. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
In the Isle of Man where I live currently, there is no landfill – the glass, plastics, papers and cans are recycled, and the rest goes into an incinerator which turns the waste into energy, which fuels around 20% of the Islands electricity supply. Pretty smart and absolutely one of my favourite things about this little island. Unfortunately, the UK produces more household waste per head, than most other countries in Europe, and whatever is not recycled, goes into landfill. In 2010, 24 tonnes of household waste was collected, with 9.4 tonnes of this recycled, and although the recycle rate was increasing, in 2014 it was noticed that this figure had stalled, a not-so gentle reminder that we cannot get complacent. Recycling is better for the environment, for our childrens planet, and is a simple thing we can all do.
5. Eat less (or no) meat, and help combat climate change
When I was 6 years old I chose to give up meat. I made my mum buy me a jumper made by Redwings Horse Sanctuary (who I still support) that said “If you love animals, why eat them?”. I used to stand in the meat aisles of our local supermarket whilst my mum went off and did the shopping, staring at everyone as they picked out their chilled meats. It was bold and aggressive and makes for a funny anecdote now, but I was tenacious, even then I couldn’t understand how people would differentiate between a dog and a cow, both sentient, trainable, intelligent and gentle creatures, but one was deemed more worthy of life than the other. I’ve come a long way since those days and chosen to vent my passion in more positive ways (such as launching this platform) however, in recent years as the negative environmental aspects of eating meat have emerged, it is just impossible to remain silent. Animal agriculture is the number one cause of climate change. Cows (herbivores!) are the oceans largest predator – huge trawler nets gather everything in their wake to be dried into pellets to feed these cattle. By 2050, in our lifetimes, we could see fishless oceans. Children are starving, yet crops are grown to feed to animals, over them. Meat is just not necessary in our diet and is decimating the planet. There is so much information out there, ignorance is no longer an option.
Still not sure sure? The movie, “Cowspiracy” is a good place to start, and this inspiring and moving short speech by Phillip Wollen, former VP of Citibank, is incredible, he summarises why things need to change, both for humanity, and the environment.
6. Use reusable shopping bags
Plastic bags are one of the items we use in bulk that take the longest to degrade, meaning they go into landfill – damaging environments and causing harm to wildlife. Since the charge for plastic shopping bags was introduced in 2015, the use of plastic bags is down by an absolutely huge 85% across the UK! That is a mega number, and although sometimes its impossible to avoid the use of a plastic bag, being prepared for the weekly shop and doing what we can, when we can, is making a huge difference, so let’s keep at it!
7. Get involved!
Whether its volunteering, involvement with a local charity or taking a few minutes out of your day to log into Change. org, or Avaaz.org and sign a bunch of petitions that pull at your heart strings, just doing a little something not only makes a huge difference, it will make you feel good too. ‘Slacktivism’ is the term for being a sofa-activist, but the proof is there and you will receive updates on the petitions you have signed, it really does work. Don’t forget to shout about the causes you are passionate about too, sharing information is the number 1 way to raise awareness.
8. Reduce waste and give the gift of giving
This post Christmas week, even though we have tried to minimise waste and gifts, yet again our house is littered with packaging and waste. Something I have chosen to do (I know lots of my friends are onboard with this too) is to give experiences, instead of stuff. This has been in the shape of spa breaks, concert tickets, animal adoptions.. One of my closest friends, for the past few Christmas’s has donated to Crisis homeless shelter instead of giving us physical presents. I can honestly say this makes me so, so, happy, so I guess the message is, be present and spend time with your loved ones, give them an amazing memory (with no unrecyclable packaging!) or give the act of giving as your gift, unless they’ve got a heart of stone it really will be appreciated as much as, if not more so, than a physical present.
9. Switch from banks that fund wars
It is not-so widely reported that all of the big banks are involved in the funding of companies that use child labour, test cosmetics and household products on animals and deal in arms amongst others things (incidentally, the UK is the second largest arms dealer in the world, just let that sink in for a moment!) Switching to an ethical bank or building society will mean you and your money are no longer part of this. I’ve banked with Smile (part of the Co-op) for the past 14 years and I can sincerely recommend them all round, they are helpful, friendly and offer great rates and services. They are an online only bank, but you can use Co-op branches and the Post Office for paper transactions. You can read about their ethics here.
10. Go green on your energy source, for free
So there are some companies out there that are making big changes in the world of green, renewable energy. Check out Bulb – they offer 100% renewable energy, they pay your exit fees from your current energy supplier AND they save you on average 20% on your energy bills a year, they will also switch everything over for you, making it completely hassle free! Saving the planet and saving money – what’s not to like?!
Let me know how you get on with any of these, I would love to hear your stories, or if there is anything that you can think of that I haven’t mentioned here, please drop me a message on here or on Instagram!