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What Can We Do for the Climate?

Douglas is a young writer interested in, among other things, nature and its preservation.

Today, many believe that the climate is in danger. And many, as well, are ready to do their part. But what does ‘doing your part’ mean? Of course, there are the obvious things that have been spoon-fed to us many times: recycling, taking public transportation instead of a car, buying things without too much plastic on them, etc., but what more can we do? Here are five things I believe anyone who is serious about reducing the strain on our environment can do.

Buying Durably

Producing things uses resources. So, when we buy something, the durability of the item should be something to consider when we are concerned about climate issues.

When buying clothing or furniture, classic styles are, for instance, better than trendy ones, as classic styles have stood the test of time and are often easier to repair (as their components are often classic and everyday as well). Moreover, repurposing classic items and combining them in new ways, challenges your creativity, aside from being more ecological, as creativity gets a boost when it has to work within certain limits.

Also, if you have no need for an item anymore yourself, you could alleviate the pressure on nature by taking the time to give the item another life so that other items do not need to get made. There are many ways in which you could do this, like donating old furniture, gifting precious items to others, giving old books to your library, reusing old clothing as cleaning cloth, etc. If we are concerned about the climate, any item occupying space in a landfill less is a win.

Buying Locally

We know that travelling by car has a negative environmental impact. The burning of fossil fuels contributes largely to global warming. But if transporting ourselves this way isn’t the best thing we could do, buying too many shipped in and globally manufactured goods is even worse. Unfortunately, all too often, each item in our shopping cart represent a different truck and boat or plane —sometimes all these together— bringing it in.

Moreover, not only the transportation of finished products has an impact, but also the extraction and transportation of components to make different products has an enormous strain. Think about things like make-up palettes or cell phones. These are products that are compounds of, among other things, different minerals and metals that were extracted from the soil in different parts of the world and were transported to other parts of the words to be processed. Then these processed components were transported themselves to manufacturing places, often in the third world, from which place they were transported to other places, often in the first world, to be consumed. The impact of this chain of transport cannot be underestimated. Supporting local businesses and products made from local materials over globalist industry would push commerce in a healthier direction.

To add to this, the import of living organisms from all around the world for our pleasure and consumption, could let loose invasive species in the world around us, destroying the biosystems we live in. Exotic pets could escape and outbreed local species and seeds of plants in exotic foods could do the same, resulting in a weaker and less diverse world around us.

Letting the Green Grow Wild

Weeding is often a hated task for anyone with a garden, but climate activists have the perfect excuse not to do it. Some green poking through the cracks of our patio tiles is only disorderly and ugly according to the outlook of a problematic society anyway. Moreover, weeds are biodiverse and biodiversity creates a strong ecosystem.

If a lawn isn’t kept only grass, it becomes a meadow, a healthy kaleidoscope of plants that infuses the soil with nutrients during the natural cycles of decomposition and regrowth, without any need for intervention. A meadow is the wild and strong antithesis of the lawn, which needs artificial strengthening and constant work. Moreover, if we let a lawn really grow wild and develop into a forest, the roots of trees and shrubbery will retain the water in the soil better and will create natural barriers, solving issues of draught, erosion and desertification.

Lastly, permaculture has proven to be more sustainable and overall better in the long run than traditional farming. Especially with home vegetable gardens it has often already been successfully implemented.

Letting nature be itself in its wild state only seems to have benefits. The only reason we are so fixated on our old ways of doing things, is tradition, status culture —in the past a lawn was a status symbol because it took money and time to maintain— and the interest of industries linked to those old ways. For people concerned about climate these do not outweighs the benefit of letting nature be itself.

Adapting our Lifestyle to the Seasons

What do animals do when it is winter? They grow thicker fur and sleep more, preserving their energy. What do they do for summer? They shed their winter fur for a lighter variant. People can do this as well. Instead of turning up the heat too much in winter, we can put on warmer clothes —a thick sweater, thicker socks, etc.— or we can wrap ourselves in some blankets and pillows. In the summer we are able to do the opposite and wear less instead of turning the AC to max. For many this is obvious, but not for everyone.

Likewise, we could follow the dictates of the climate when it comes to other things as well. We could reserve hard outdoor work for the spring and summer months, while we could reserve more contemplative work for the winter months. We could limit extensive travelling to spring or autumn when our car doesn’t need to burn extra fuel to heat or cool. Lastly, we could eat season-appropriate foods and not expect strawberries in winter or pumpkins in spring. In general, if we followed the seasons instead of denying and fighting them, we would waste a lot less energy than we do now.

Setting the Right Example

Who would be convinced by a message, when the actions of the person spreading that message do not reflect their words? Unfortunately, many climate activists often do not always practice what they preach. They use convenience and comfort as excuses not to do the less harmful thing. They take the car if they could walk or take a bike, or they buy exotic fruits, shipped at great environmental cost, when local varieties are available as well.

Truly shameful, however, is the cringeworthy hypocrisy all too common with some public environmental organisations and activists. Why for example, should the ‘historic performance’ by Ludovico Einaudi sponsored by Greenpeace below speak of anything else than comedic irony to anyone who isn’t convinced of the message already? Indeed, why pay an artist of a non-mainstream genre of music to compose a piece about climate change, when the goal is to reach as many people as possible? And why should so much money gathered to combat climate change be used to transport this artist to the Arctic itself with a whole crew, when a greenscreen would have been as effective and would have been less environmentally destructive? Whatever the merits of the art created or the artist, it does seem ineffective and wasteful.

Another question that could be raised within environmental organisations is why people —academics, politicians, activists— should be flown out and transported all over the world to do events and speeches and participate in network opportunities, when we have Skype and Zoom? It might be less convenient than talking in person, but if there is one group that should think about laying convenience aside when it could make a world of a difference for the climate, it should be climate activists.

There are a lot of things that can be done to support the earth, but nothing will happen if we do not act consciously ourselves and lend our example to the communities we belong to. Fiction writers are familiar with the idea that people are much easier drawn into a story when you "show" instead of "tell". The essence of this wisdom is true for other fields of life as well, however, as people are much easier convinced by examples than preeching.

Further reading...

Meadows and Prairies: Wildlife Friendly Alternatives to Lawns

Sustainable nutrition, or: Who eats strawberries in winter?

The throw-away economy

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Douglas Redant