Ever heard the old cliche that goes something along the lines of, “humans are the most destructive creatures out and that the world would be a better place if we as a species became extinct?” Generally speaking, humans are about as destructive to the planet as Coke is to your body. So, what can we do without making drastic changes to our lives and sacrificing everything we have?
Veganism and activism are on the extreme ends of the spectrum. A lot of people seem to throw saving the planet into the ‘too hard basket’ because it seems daunting and pointless. The same trend can be found in the way millennials don’t see the point in voting. But why have such a defeatist view on life when every vote counts? They say that acts of vegetarianism can be looked at in the same way as recycling. Small acts do add up to the bigger, cleaner, more sustainable picture. After being saturated in opinions from this new age of political correctness, I realised that the big problem we are facing is that we’re human, we’re perfectly imperfect and we all mess up sometimes. You are doing yourself and the Earth a huge injustice by not doing anything just because you can’t do EVERYTHING. The Butterfly Effect is real and any, no matter how small, is a contribution nonetheless.
You want to stop eating meat, but you know you’ll probably eat it again in your lifetime - that’s OK! Doing full blown vegetarian or vegan isn’t the only way. If having a plant-based diet is just too much for you to handle 24/7, then pick a day that you will aim to not eat meat and/or animal products. How about on Mondays you skip the meat and then on Thursdays you don’t eat dairy? It takes 9,463 gallons of water to produce 450 grams of meat. If you eat meat seven days a week then that’s close to 66,244 litres of water. Over a course of a typical three-year uni life, that is 10,334,174 litres. But if you were to cut out meat for one day per week, you will save 1,476,338 litres of water from being wasted over the course of three years. That’s the only math equation that’s ever made me smile, so that must be something!
Be a Conscious Consumer
Excessive plastic waste is generally ending up in our oceans and in the stomachs of the ocean’s fish. Show the bartender that you are capable of drinking from a cup by refusing the straw. If you’re going home to eat takeaways, say no to the plastic cutlery. Making wise and healthy decisions for your body and the environment usually results in less waste, less processed foods being bought and therefore less money being pumped into the back pockets of all those money-hungry corporations.
The convenience of a takeaway coffee cup is nowhere near as satisfying as a reusable cup that you’ve chosen yourself. With reusable drink bottles, instead of paying $3.50 for a Pump bottle every week or so, you can spend $10-$20 one-off and use the tap – for freeeeeeee! Reusable bags aren’t just for the supermarket either - have it wrapped up in your bag for when you go shopping or for a rainy day when you need a spare. When printing readings and other documents out - print on two sides! This is a sure way to half the amount of paper you would have initially used. One person never using plastic again - awesome! Everyone doing the little things that they can - priceless!
Yes, I’m going to mention politics
VOTE. We’ve already been through this last year, boys and girls. It’s important to investigate the policies that parties have for climate change and what they value. Because that is usually where your tax money will be focused on. Does the party you support recognise the need to decrease your carbon footprint? Do they care about the water quality that your grandchildren will have to deal with?
You have two legs - use them!
We are lucky enough to live in a city that caters strongly for pedestrians and commuters. Walk to work or uni, borrow a bike from the Massey Gym to run your errands. I admit, on a rainy cold day Zoomy seems to be my most favoured option. But paying half the price, a bus ride is pretty attractive! Buses aren’t exactly ‘your own power’ but thirty people in one form of transport is a lot more efficient than thirty different cars trying to make it into the CBD by 9am. There’s something rewarding and awfully energy-savvy about using your own power to transport yourself. Besides, walking and biking isn’t bad for you either!
Do what you can!
It seems that in the process of trying to save the planet, we have created more rigid groups and labels for ourselves that we must adhere to in order to be doing our part to preserve Mother Nature. There are things you can do without being a part of what may deem as almost cult-esque. You don’t have to stop all your bad habits forever or start knocking on doors getting sign-ups for Greenpeace campaigns. But there are small changes that you can make to your lifestyle that add up over time, making a massive difference. Who cares if one day you eat meat, or you throw cardboard in a rubbish bin because there’s no recycling bin around. You don’t have to beat yourself up for being a perfectly imperfect human.
You don’t have to do everything. You don’t have to move into the wop-wops, have no power and bathe in a river - but you can do something. Doing something is easy. Setting unrealistic expectations and trying to give up habits that we have been conditioned to for 20-or so years, is a lot harder. A wise little Lorax once said, “unless someone like you cares an awful lot. Then nothing is going to get better - it’s not”. So, put on your walking shoes, load up on the plants, and let’s start saving our world together - one small step at a time.