7 things YOU can do right NOW to save the world
So it was World Gorilla and Giving Day for Apes last week so this post is pretty well-timed as 2 out of the 7 actions will DIRECTLY help the apes!
1 - Check the products you buy for palm oil
I think we pretty much all know about how palm oil is destroying the Indonesian rainforest, and killing off the orangutan; it is estimated that 75% of the rainforest is already gone with an area of 4 million hectares estimated to have been lost – that’s the sie of Denmark! And that within 5 years the orangutan could be extinct in the wild (WTF?!)…so the question then is, what is OUR affect and what can WE do about it?
Well palm oil is in A LOT of stuff!! From soap, to biscuits, to shampoo, milk, make-up and toothpaste; and its mostly Western products that benefit from this cheap, easy to use oil; in fact 50% of our products include palm oil!! UK, India and China actually buy, import and use the majority of palm oil, so this means effectively, it’s us that is cutting down the rainforest and forcing the orangutan into extinction – not good news eh? So what can we do about this? Thanks to the world of the mobile phone, it now means that we can utilise our consumer power and check the products that we buy and ensure that they don’t have palm oil in them, all from the palm of our hand using some handy apps and information:
https://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/palmoil#DownloadYourCopy (Palm oil in the Congo Basin)
You can also support the organisations on the ground in Indonesia who are working to protect the forests and save the orang-utan:
Orangutan Foundation International www.orangutan.org
Orangutan Project: www.orangutan.org.au
“Every year it is estimated that between 1,000 to 5,000 orangutans are killed in Palm Oil concessions.” OFI
It is our joint responsibility so we must all work together to ensure that this amazing habitat and the species that live there don’t disappear on our watch.
2 - Demand that you want Conflict-free Minerals in your electronics
Somehow it is not widely known that in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) there is a war raging that is the second biggest war since World War 2! 5 million people have already lost their lives and the violence is still continuing. On top of the astronomical death toll over the last 20 years, there is also a harrowin weapon being used at the core of the conflict; rape. From the most recent information gathered on this it is said that every HOUR 48 women and children are raped – that’s 1,152 per day! Rape is used as a means to break up villages and communities in areas where mining is wanted, so that people leave the area. It is also used as a way to keep women in slavery who are forced to work in the mines and act as sex-slaves. And then to add even more tragic issues to the pile, this conflict surrounding minerals also is destroying the forests and environment, leaving desolate, deforested, polluted areas where primary forest once was. Mineral mining has also been attributed as the biggest cause of the 80% decrease in Eastern-lowland gorillas here in DRC in the last 20 years, leaving possibly fewer than 3,800 individuals inhabiting 13% of the area that they previously spanned. This is dangerous news for the Eastern-Lowland gorilla, which are endemic to Eastern-DRC; meaning they are found nowhere else on the planet! Soooo what can YOU at home do about this?
Firstly, take action by writing and demanding that our electronics companies keep conflict minerals out of our products:
You can also support the charities that are working on the ground to save the Grauer’s gorilla and their habitat:
3 - Go vegan
Going vegan really is one of the biggest ways that you can make a difference! Most people will eat 3 meals a day, so making kind choices for each meal equates to a big impact overall! Meat-eaters consume on average over 10,000 animals in their lifetime, so that’s close to 150 animals saved each year by going vegan! If that doesn’t show you the impact simple meal choices can have then how about the impact on the environment?
Is the biggest cause of climate change
Uses 80-90% of water used each day across the world
We could see fishless oceans by 2048
Responsible for 91% of Amazon rainforest destruction
82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries
A vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent
Now I know to most, going vegan can seem extreme, but it really isn’t, it’s just the attitude or perception of change that can make it seem that way, it’ actually very easy, but as with any change requires some effort and learning at first. A lot of common meals that we eat are vegan; beans on toast, salads, soups, most dips, and most if not all meals can easily be turned into vegan meals. A plant-based diet has also been shown to be the healthiest option for our bodies also, and as the truth is revesled about what meat and dairy do to our bodies and minds, even as bad as red meat and proeccesed meat being labelled as class 1 and 2 carcinogens by the World Health Organisation (WHO), we can see that it’s time to see the truth, move away from an unhealthy obsession with animal products and really change our lives for the better.
4 - Don’t buy single use plastic
I think by now we all know about the plastic crisis and how it is causing issues all over the world; single use plastic is the stuff of nightmares! Not only is it kind of pointless anyway as who wants to keep buying the same thing over and over again, but it also then hangs around on the planet as waste for eternity (well almost) and even the breakdown of it is toxic – so why on earth did we ever bring this into existence? You got it, the same reason that most harmful entities make their way into our everyday lives; money and convenience. It is a by-product of the oil industry and so is a way to make money off the waste there, but also hold fluids, it can be strong and sterilised and sealed; but these are all the reasons why it is so dangerous to life. So can we let it go and find other workable options? Of course! How did we ever survive without plastic? It wasn’t so long ago (maybe ask your grandparents) that we used glass containers, paper and other re-usable alternatives to store and hold our everyday purchases and products. We can also just reduce by changing our mind-set from one of a throw-away culture, to a more planet and people minded one, which can also save our pockets too.
The great pacific garbage patch in the pacific ocean is estimated to now be bigger than Mexico!
Check out my talented friend Angela Sun’s documentary on the problems plastic is causing in Indonesia and Asia where all the waste ends up due to currents, and has created a plastic island the size of Greenland!!
5 - Recycle – everything
So this one is kinda simple and has been a concept for a while. This doesn’t refer to just putting recyclable materials into the green bin, this is about considering all goods and whether they can be re-used or used in some other way – think putting waste water from washing vegetables on the garden; saving jam jars to hold dried foods; using jute bags for carrying shopping; creating a compost heap to use waste food – it’s remarkable how much you reduce your waste when you change your mind-set from one of consuming, to one of reducing and awareness. Where do we think the waste goes? It stays with us here on our planet we have to live on, so we need to be more mindful of this; recycle and even before that, reduce what we use.
6 - Reduce your consumerism
This is linked to number 5, but its not just about food and recycling packaging etc; this is about all of our consumerism. We’ve all been there, buying something just because its the latest trend, or we fancy it, or we want a newer one. I’m not saying this isn’t our right as we work hard and are able to buy what we want, but how much of that stuff do we actually NEED? And do we ever think about the time and effort and resources that go into making these products and what impact that has on others and the planet? For example, the iPhone X comes out and I’m sucked into Apple’s very clever multi-billion dollar marketing campaign that I immediately want it, despite the fact that it does the same (let’s face it, it’s the same) as last years option. And yes there are instances when we need to upgrade or genuinely will use the newer added benefits, BUT what happens to our ‘old’ phone? We may trade it in or give it to a family member, which is great, but the energy and materials used to make the new phone are expended due to demand, and they obviously will always have an affect on the environment (mining for the minerals, transport, labour, waste-products). Plus sometimes the old product ends up in landfill, where it doesn’t just disappear, despite what we may think, and can cause further pollution and danger to nature and people. The more we consume, the more throw-away products are created to be, so we can keep on the never-ending cycle and line the pockets of the companies who only make profit if you keep consuming and consuming and consuming.
Perhaps this is something we can consider when buying new stuff, and this also can help us to choose what can be fixed and what really can be thrown away and replaced.
7 - Support local
This has positive implications far and wide. By supporting local businesses and buying locally, not only do we boost the local economy, we also cut out the transport emissions, costs and time it takes to get something from elsewhere. In the Western world this has become the go-to, where we have the societal mentality that whatever I want I can have! This also encourages us to ignore the time that it takes to grow food or make a product, and also how far a lot of this stuff comes. For example, everyone in the U.K eats bananas and doesn’t see them as exotic produce anymore, but the average banana has travelled 8900km from South Africa! That’s a long way and a lot of fuel to feed our banana cravings, and not only that but what you end up with is really sub-standard as they have to be picked well before they are ready and then refrigerated for the duration of the journey; all of which makes for the opposite of ‘fresh’ local food, and if you have ever picked a banana of a tree in Africa and tasted the difference, you will know what I am talking about.
So I am not suggesting we buy no tropical foods or goods from abroad…actually I take that back, I am. Let’s all try to eat local and seasonal and enjoy what is on offer around us, as well as supporting the smaller companies and local skilled-people. In doing so, we help the environment but also might be nicely surprised at finding something unique, fresh or exciting right in our back garden.
NEXT POST: “Life in the bush: Part 2.” Follow along here.