Saving the world seems to be high on many people's agenda at the moment and I for one hope it stays that way. Why? because the way I, and many scientists see it, if it's not high on the agenda then the world as we know it will cease to exist. (If you're not convinced, start by watching Attenborough in the BBC's Climate Change:The Facts. then come back and read the rest of this).
But, for a lot of people it can feel all too much. It's easy to ask, 'What can one woman do against so much adversity?'. Well I don't know if one woman can change the world but I do believe that lots of women together can make a big difference. Afterall, if the women involved in the suffragette movement hadn't believed in their power to bring about change against all odds, the world would be a very different place for all of us who've followed.
As mothers, we have even greater power as we influence the next generation. They are learning from you all of the time. And think about it, when teaching your child a new skill or helping them with their homework and they say, 'I can't do this it's too hard', What's your reply? Do you say, 'Yes that is too hard, don't bother trying'? NO of course not! You say, 'I know it seems hard so lets just take it slowly and try again.' Or you might say, 'Stop worrying, stop whining and get on with it' which is what I'm saying to you.
So if you're feeling overwhelmed and don't know where to start to help save the world this summer, give some of these ideas a go.
1.Stay close to home
There's a real desire and pressure to go off on a holiday in the holidays but sitting in traffic jams and paying a FORTUNE for a holiday house that's half the price the week before are good enough reasons not to. Plus, avoiding using the car and of course an aeroplane, will have a huge impact on your carbon footprint.
Most kids LOVE train trips and I personally find them much less stressful than car journeys with a 3
and 5 year old who want to use the same pen at the same time, never want a wee at the same time and always want to listen to different stories. So I highly recommend investing in the UK's family railcard for massive savings on fares. Go on an adventure, you can even take the dog.
2.Get some re-usable picnic gear
Eek you all know about the havoc that plastic waste is causing to our ocean creatures right? Basically, much of our 'recycled' plastic actually gets sent overseas instead of recycled here in the UK and then ends up in the ocean due to improper disposal practices (check out this Guardian article ). Plastic waste has been found in the deepest ocean trenches and in the stomachs of many marine animals who’ve died as a result (obviously).
So, it’s quite simple – invest in a set of reusable picnic gear this year instead of all those plastic plates and cups, or heck just use what you’ve got at home already and take it home with you to wash. Yes, it is a little more effort and you're already so so busy but this is about the bigger picture. Oh and just a personal pet peeve, please stop buying cling film. Go old school and use reusable lunchboxes or cloths to store and cover your food or buy or make some beeswax wraps.
Check out this artist who's spent her career documenting the Ocean plastic problem.
Staying hydrated in summer is super important but again, buying and using bottled water in plastic bottles is causing huge harm. Not only does it end up in the ocean sometimes but the amount of energy it takes to make plastic is huge and is contributing to global warming. So buy a reusable bottle and refill as you go. I prefer the metal canisters like these beautiful rainbow ones as it keeps the water cooler, is light and helps the water taste better. Win win.
Plus did you know there's an app that shows you where you can refill your bottles on the go in many UK cities? Personally I'd rather just go into a cafe and ask for a re-fill but if you're feeling particularly British and embarrassed to ask then this could be for you.
4.Ban the baby wipes!
This is another plastic problem as many wipes contain up to 80% plastic and often end up blocking our sewers as well as the seas. So bring a cloth, teatowel or invest in some cheeky wipes for mucky hands and faces. Simple as that.
5.Plan some eco-activities with the kids
Many of us slightly dread the long summer holidays, wondering how we're going to fill the days and keep everyone happy.
Firstly let me remind you that you can never keep everyone happy. Secondly, I always advocate for NOT stressing everyone out by trying to fill your days too much. Try planning in some proper chill out at home or the park instead, so everyone gets a much needed break and you don’t all end up exhausted by the time the new term comes.
But if you are looking for a few activities, why not give them an eco-friendly purpose? Litter pick on the way to your local park (depending on the age of your kids, they may actually LOVE this), plant a tree somewhere, make a bug hotel, start growing your own veggies or, because we all know the weather’s not going to be glorious the whole summer, try recycling crafts like these
6.Energy savings on your house
Ok so when you do get away, be sure to switch off all unnecessary appliances including the hot water! Save money and the planet. Easy.
If you’re growing veg or flowers of course you need to keep them watered but do make use of the inevitable summer rain by getting a water butt (often available second hand) or sticking some big buckets outside. Also make use of the old paddling pool water in the same way. I keep the kids busy by getting them to fill up buckets from the pool and pour it into the water butt or straight onto the plants.
8.Open the windows
Mostly I’m talking about your car here. Avoid using the air conditioning as much as you can. It uses a lot more fuel which isn’t good for your wallet or the world.
Did you know that a MASSIVE contributor to global warming is the meat and dairy industry? Cows and sheep in particular produce methane when they fart and believe it or not, that’s heating up the planet in a BIG way. So consider planning some meat and dairy free dinners over summer, especially with BBQ season underway.
I’m not saying you have to go FULLY vegan this summer, but why not try half and half?
10. Buy local
Wherever you travel to, why not look up local farmers markets and similar to try out some locally grown and produced foods that haven’t travelled so far to get to your plate? It’s a great way to get involved in the local community, try new things and save the planet.
So there you have it. For some of you, the climate crisis might feel overhwhelming and put you into 'analysis paralysis' where you don't know what to do so you end up doing nothing. In which case, why not follow the BBC Climate Change:The Facts programme's advice of the 3 biggest things individuals can do to help the climate crisis.
REDUCE YOUR BEEF, LAMB AND DAIRY INTAKE.
REDUCE YOUR FOOD WASTE.
INSULATE YOUR HOME PROPERLY.
Or you might be in my camp where none of this feels 'enough' and you recognise the need to influence Government to make legislative change that's going to have a bigger national and global impact. In which case, I recommend finding your local Extinction Rebellion group and joining in on the action (PS you don't have to protest or get arrested to be part of the change).
wishing you Health & Happiness,
from one mum to another.
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