5 Ways To Save The Planet

After watching David Attenborough’s Climate Change - The Facts it made me think about all the stuff I’m doing I really shouldn’t be. If we’ve got 12 years to turn things around I’m going to roll my sleeves up.

But where do you start? I’ve always read these ‘5 ways to reduce your plastic’ listicles as mere pissing in the sea frankly. Not using one straw or taking a cloth bag to the shops is great for a quick tidy up but it’s hardly going to save the Orang Utans is it? This is a massive problem that needs big answers.

So what’s the government doing about this environmental disaster? Very little. On one hand they recently declared an ‘environmental emergency’ and with the other hand decimated the solar industry in this country, awarded the building of new nuclear power plants to the Chinese and declared plastic straws and ear buds are to be banned in 2020 . Not enough by any stretch of the imagination. Countries’ rated success is built on their GDP (economic growth). Governments are targeted on producing more and more and more… The only country in the world that has refused to use GDP to measure its prosperity is Bhutan. Instead it measures its citizens’ happiness levels.

The trouble is that governments can do very little even if they are willing. They are in the grip of big corporations. Capitalism, on the surface, has done wonders for our lives. But at what price? The effect it’s had on ordinary people (the collapse of manufacturing and industry and the knock on collapse of towns and the people’s mental health with it), on animal species and the planet has been devastating. Free market forces and big corporations have done this damage not individuals and yet they are left unchallenged in their greed.

Large corporations are now in charge. They lobby (ie bulldoze) to get their own way - just look at the way they influence the US government on food, pharmaceuticals, gun control and fossil fuels to name a few. They wheedle their way out of paying proper rates of tax by any off-shore means possible and most members of the government (and MPs in general) are unashamedly setting themselves up for post-parliament jobs in the corporate sector.

Brad Werner says that the capitalist system is so rapacious in its consumption of earth’s resources, and the measures that have thus far been imposed so ineffectual, that the only hope we have of saving the planet is for action to come from outside the system. Corporations are not going to do anything to prevent ecological meltdown; it contravenes their ideology.

If governments are powerless and corporations are not to be trusted, what can we do? The one thing corporations need are consumers (formerly called ‘people’ notes Russell Brand in his book Revolution.) They need people to keep buying stuff. And this is where I intend to start not putting my money where my mouth is. I’m turning away from big business where I can.

  1. Less reliance on big business

Amazon Prime gone!

I’ve had Amazon Prime for years. It costs me £79 a year and it means I can order a skip full of S. H. one T from China and it miraculously turns up the next day. (Sometimes I’ve placed several, and I mean several, orders all on the same day and they’ve all been sent separately - because I could and I was too lazy/disorganised to plan it a bit more. Jesus wept.)

But at what cost? The Chinese factory worker churning this rubbish out for a kid’s party bag. The air freight CO2 getting it here. The poor sod on minimum wage picking my order wearing out his shoe leather in that vast warehouse every night must be cursing ‘that bloody woman in Reigate again’. I’m on back-of-the-head recognition terms with the delivery man so pressured to deliver all the shit to my door he knocks and runs to get on to his next 14 deliveries before the day ends to save getting the sack. And, just recently, I seem to be receiving stuff in plastic bags, gone are the cardboard sleeves.

No more. I’ve cancelled it. And as a result I’ve spent less money because I’ve bought less. Why am I giving my money to Jeff Bezos? He certainly doesn’t need any more of it.


Ocado 

They annoyed me when they announced they’re ditching Waitrose for M&S anyway. They’re another one who coo about being environmentally friendly but do the opposite. I’ve recently noticed they are delivering shopping in EVEN MORE plastic (unnecessary polythene bags round stuff like bleach bottles has suddenly started happening. I complained and got back some banal response). They also got caught filling their bio diesel vans with normal diesel in London.

I’m deliberately spending less on my big shop. I still meal plan but for four days a week instead of seven as I used to. I’m moving my money to local shops or small online outfits. It’s saving me money and I’m wasting less food.


Energy supplier

You can move to an eco energy supplier like Ecotricity and away from the big suppliers still reliant on fossil fuels but push the eco bit for a few quid extra a month.

I’m forcing myself to use the tumble dryer less. I have one of those heated airers from Lakeland (which are totally excellent and you definitely need one) and an outdoor line. I’ve really got no excuse, I just need to make the time to get it on there instead. That saves loads of electricity.

I’d love to get solar panels but the upfront cost puts me off. That needs to change.


2. Shop small or local

It’s easier than ever and there’s so many clever products now which compare price-wise very favourably with the big supermarkets’ products. Small businesses actually employ people on proper wages and don’t exploit kids in the third world to make stuff. They’re not out to ravage the earth and are upfront about where they get their resources and their impact on the environment. Fancy that!

Here’s some ideas.

Splosh make refillable household products. They’re great! And they don’t actually cost that much. They even have an app that makes it easy to order refills. When you’ve got 8 refill pouches, you send them back in the box and they recycle them for you, properly.


Organic veg boxes. My favourite is Abel & Cole . Comes in a cardboard box and you can send all the packaging back which gets re-used or recycled by them.

I’m not a massive Morrisons fan but it’s over the road (I can walk) and they are starting to sell more fruit and veg loose. I’m going to get some of those see through bag things to put the stuff in so it doesn’t roll down the checkout. And, if a big company is trying and it’s over the road (and there’s nowhere else to shop in Reigate), I’ll support their efforts, just wish they did more organic stuff.

These re-useable bags are from Lakeland

These re-useable bags are from Lakeland


3. Buying things that last just the once, stuff that doesn’t should be degradable, recyclable or secondhand

I’m going to buy stuff once and make it last. I’ll save up for something quality and made of recyclable materials or buy environmentally friendly wherever possible.

Try &Keep for plastic free living and other environmentally friendly stuff.

I recently took a trip to Fetch’em from the Cupboard in Ashtead and bought some dental stuff (floss sticks) and a shampoo bar. You can get all this online or, like the deodorant above, in Inside Out Health in Reigate. Try some different stuff.

Normally I would upgrade my mobile pretty much every time my contract runs out. This time I’m going to keep it as long as possible and then buy the next one secondhand. My son bought a pristine iPhone 7 from CEX in Redhill for £270. It’s in mint condition and came with a 2 year guarantee from the shop. I’ll be looking to get something similar when the time comes.

4. Plant based real food

This is by far the biggest way you can have a positive impact on the planet. The food industry accounts for almost double the greenhouse gas emissions than all transportation combined (that’s cars, buses, planes and trains) - 25% of all global CO2 (IPCC 2014).

Eat fruit, veg, legumes and grains. It’s better for your health, your waistline, it’s cheaper and it’s far better for the planet.

5. Ethical savings

I’ve moved my (meagre) savings into ethical funds. Trust me, Trump ain’t crying into his cornflakes, but I’m happier knowing my money isn’t going into arms dealing or fossil fuels.

Moneybox is a great savings app and just started a socially responsible shares thing

Peer to peer lending avoids giving your money to the big banks, eg Ratesetter

Ethical banking by Triodos


Conclusion

I’m not sitting back and letting it happen around me. I’ll keep making adjustments to how I live, educating myself. You know, keep on fighting. I don’t fancy my chances on Mars. I’d last a week at best.


Further reading

Interesting article on food waste National Geographic People Waste More Food Than They Think

A great shop for sustainable products and buy once items along with an excellent eco newsletter from &Keep.com

Washington Post: “Governments could take decades to save species. Here’s what you can do now

The Guardian: 'Lunch on the go' habit generates 11bn items of packaging waste a year

On BBC iPlayer David Attenborough’s Climate Change - The Facts

A great shop for sustainable products and buy once items along with an excellent eco newsletter from &Keep.com

Washington Post: “Governments could take decades to save species. Here’s what you can do now”

The Guardian ‘Biodegradable’ plastic bags survive three years in soil and sea 

Ruth JaneComment