This past week saw us hold Earth Day, an awareness day on the 22nd of April aimed at highlighting the importance of taking care of our planet.
Started back in 1970, Earth Day gave a voice to an emerging consciousness about the state of our planet. The rise in industry since the industrial revolution had led to a society full of cars pumping out vast amounts of lead gas, factories belching out poisonous smoke and dumping toxic sludge into the rivers.
A junior senator in America, concerned about the deteriorating environment, came up with the idea of a teach-in on college campuses open to the national media. That first event inspired 20 million Americans, 10% of the population to take to the streets to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development.
This year, some 51 years later, the theme of Restore Our Earth was chosen. David Attenborough recently released a new documentary, A Life on Our Planet, which highlights the changes that have taken place over his lifetime as a presenter. It can seem quite scary and also overwhelming when you watch these programs, you might even think what difference can I make when you consider that something as significant as our extinction is being predicted. However, it is not too late for each of us to play our part. Together we can change the outcome! How I hear you ask, by each of us taking responsibility for our actions, by each of us owning the part we can play.
Some of you may already be further along this journey than me but let me assure you it is a journey worth taking for your own personal gain as well as our planet. We each need to find our own way, there isn’t a right and a wrong. Find the right place for you and take that first step, today.
Where can you start?
Start by looking at the products within your home.
Over the last few decades the emphasis has been on easy living, on over cleaning, on looking the best we can. Look along the shelves at the supermarket and they are stacked with a product for every job. From antibacterial hand wash to laundry pods, face masks to hair masks, dishwasher tablets to oven spray.
Each of these products is often contained within a single-use plastic bottle or aerosol can. These containers damage our planet whilst being created and further damage it when they end up in a landfill. And then the product contained in it is just as damaging. Each is packed with toxins and chemicals that are not just really bad for the environment but are also bad for your health.
Why not start by picking just one product and replace it with a natural one. You won’t just be helping to reduce the amount of plastic or buying ones in more environmentally friendly bottles but you will be improving your health by reducing the toxins in your home.
I started with a plant-based cleaning concentrate, no toxins just natural products and essential oils. I then bought a metal spray bottle, you might prefer glass, that I just refill as I empty it. One 355ml bottle of concentrate makes up 8 litres of cleaner, dramatically reducing the plastic waste and cleaning my home, toxic-free. Gradually I replaced my shower gel, my laundry detergent, my deodorant, my dishwasher tablets, my air freshener, every product I used with a natural one.
Then there is the plastic kitchen sponge, the cling film, toothbrushes, cotton buds. We use many of these products on such a large scale but they are packed with plastics and cause so much waste. There are a vast array of eco-friendly products that you can begin to replace these items with, many of which will last much longer, are less toxic for your health and can be friendly to the environment when recycled.
I saw a great idea the other day! Replace your plastic kitchen sponge with a coconut husk version, it is more hygienic and will last much longer. Once it needs replacing pop it in the bottom of the pot when you replant your house plants or planting up your seeds in the garden, it creates great drainage and is antibacterial as well.
Over the counter medication.
For me, this was the priority at the start of my journey. I became aware that nature had provided us with a vast array of medicines, specifically essential oils. I replaced everything I had previously used, including prescription antibiotics, with a small box of oils and changed my health dramatically. This has lead me on a fantastic journey of discovery about natural, holistic health and into a new career.
The pharmaceutical industry is a massive producer of waste. How many empty blister packs do you throw away every week? These packs are difficult to recycle and we are a pill popping society, the waste is excessive. And what of the contents? Did you know that up until the beginning of the 1900’s healthcare was homeopathy, natural/herbal solutions, holistic health. That was until oil tycoon John D Rockafella saw an opportunity, pouring money into research to study how plants cured disease and then recreating a similar chemical medicine that could be patented.
We became a society that has a pill for every ill, we no longer look to cure but to just treat the symptoms. Our healthcare is actually more about ‘sick care’ than wellness, it is a creator of huge levels of toxins all of which make their way into our environment.
By returning to natural methods of healthcare, aromatherapy, homoeopathy, Chinese medicine, reflexology, naturopathy, chiropractory, we can not only have better health but we can help restore our planet.
Review your diet.
You may have noticed that veganism is growing on a large scale, have you considered why? Our meat industry is actually a huge polluter because of the scale of production. We consume a vast amount of beef and drink huge quantities of milk meaning there is a vast requirement of cows to keep up with production. However, cows produce large volumes of greenhouse gases. Then there is the large quantities of antibiotics and hormones given to those cows to keep them healthy and increase volume of production. Plus they require huge volumes of feed, demanding larger crops which leads to large quantities of toxic pesticides being used.
Then if you consider how that meat and milk gets to market. Most is contained within plastic bottles and trays and sold through our supermarkets. The same principles can be applied to all of our meat and eggs making the industry one of the worst polluters.
Our fruit and vegetables also contribute high levels of pollutants down to the pesticides used, the greenhouses to produce out of season and the carbon footprint to carry them from the other side of the world.
So what changes can you make? You could change your cow’s milk for plant-based, reduce how much meat you eat, buy your fruit and veg in season, choose organic, buy from local farm shops or butchers rather than the supermarket so you aren’t creating the plastic waste. Or how about starting to grow your own fruit and vegetables, nothing beats a freshly picked tomato or apple, you can also be certain that they are organic if you don’t use all those chemical pesticides.
Do you really need that new bag?
We have become a very disposable society, always wanting to buy the latest gadget or follow the current fashion trend. But have you considered how much waste we create from living this way. We certainly don’t have the ‘make do and mend’ mentality of the older generations.
Next time you think you need something new, stop and think. Do you really need it? Could you repair or repurpose? Upcycling has actually become very trendy so maybe you aren’t able to but someone else will be. Don’t just throw away what you no longer want.
If you do have to replace or buy an item try and consider the purchase you are making. Can you buy a more natural product? What about efficiency, if it’s an appliance, can you buy one that uses less electricity, less water? What is it made from? Can you find the item made from a more natural product or from a product that is sustainably grown. How toxic is the product?
These are just a few suggestions from the many ways that we can each play a part, with each little change that we make adding up, hopefully, it has begun to challenge your thinking. If we each make a start with that one thing it will grow and before you know it you will have changed many more things. I have replaced so many things since I started this journey but there are still many more to change. The biggest change though is my thinking because now I will always consider the greater good before I buy. And the added bonus to all these is changes has been an improvement to my health and well-being-being.
So what are you waiting for? Start your journey today if you aren’t already on it, together let’s save our planet before it is too late.