We all grew up knowing the three R’s : Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In light of recent news that a climate scientist has come to the conclusion the climate may have already passed the point of no return. That sounds like it’s time for a pound of cure, since we didn’t take the ounce of prevention. While policy makers globally waffle and continue to debate climate change; we the regular folk have to take matters into our own hands (as we usually do).
It is time to move beyond just Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to add a few more R’s. Refuse, Remake/Repair and Restore. I am reminded of the Japanese term Satoyama, which loosely means; people living in harmony with nature as stewards. We should all approach our efforts at environmentalism as striving to be more in harmony with nature. Daily, I think about what my family and I can do to minimise our impact on the planet. I will share some practical things you can do today, to improve your green credentials.
Refuse: You don’t really need that plastic straw do you? Plastic straws do such damage to marine life, it only took a single picture of a turtle with a straw stuck up its nose to cure me. Now there are paper, glass and aluminium straws available but I can drink directly from a glass, a cup or a soft drink bottle. Nature doesn’t have to suffer so I can be graceful and ladylike!
If you crave hot or cold drinks, save the styrofoam and carry a reusable insulated cup. Ask the barista to put your drink in your own cup, I’ve yet to see someone refuse. If you eat out, avoid plastic: spoons, forks and sporks. Put your own cutlery in your bag ( it’s actually more sanitary) and use that instead.
Remake/Repair: Long ago things lasted a loooong time. These days; not so much and the sad part is they are built that way. I remember as a child, my mother saying things like “That dress is older than you.” Nowadays you’re lucky if the garments you buy, make it past the first wash! Using clothing as long as possible is a great way to ease the stress on the environment. So the first bit of advice is to buy good quality, well-constructed clothing, you will use them longer and get greater value and reduce your demands on the planet. When your clothing gets damaged or worn, don’t be afraid to repurpose. Turn the fault into a fashion, customise and let your creativity show! Repair when you can, remake and up-cycle when you can’t. Don’t just think of repair in the context of clothing, this applies to household appliances too. If you already own energy efficient appliances try to fix that old household appliance rather than just upgrading.
Restore: We are all deep in debt to Mother Nature and we should strive to restore whenever possible. Plant a tree, or a dozen if you have the room. Compost grass clippings and vegetable scraps and use them to improve the soil, if you throw them in the trash and they go to the landfill guess what? They take longer to decompose. If you don’t have your own yard space you can still compost in a bucket in your kitchen. Just be sure it has an airtight lid! Use the compost to grow your own plants in pots. Think beyond less waste, aim rather for a zero waste lifestyle. When we are aware of the amount of unnecessary waste we generate, we put more thought into the products we purchase and the packaging they come in. That bottle of body wash may smell great and work like a dream but what happens to the bottle itself after the body wash is done? Or the wrapping for your toothbrushes? Be more mindful of the waste you create and of options to reduce it.
We all need to do what we can, none of us have the luxury of waiting a moment longer. Get started today, we’ve only got one planet and there is no Plan-B.