Last week I read the Living Planet Report that is published every year by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). It gives us an idea of how drastic wildlife loss has become, stating that since the 1970s the global wild animal populations plunged by almost 70%. In the tropical parts of Latin America, it’s even worse: 94% less, which is the largest fall observed in any part of the world. Global trade, overconsumption and human population growth put a lot of pressure on nature resulting in habitat loss, overfishing and climate change among others. The biggest driver is agriculture.
“How can we let this happen?” vs. “There is nothing you can do anyway”
We’ve become so used to getting this dramatic news that it doesn’t really seem to shock us anymore. From tigers to rhinos, from wild bees to tuna (read the full list here)… it’s hard to keep track and even harder to bear this information. Part of me wants to rage and scream, “How can we let this happen?”. But there is also another part of me that whispers in my ear: “Don’t even bother, you will only upset yourself and others and there is nothing you can do anyway.”
I guess that each one of us has had that sensation more than once. Like when you balance (and drop) 10 oranges on your forearm at the supermarket cashier because you forgot your tote bag while the person right behind you uses two plastic bags for each item, even the bananas. Or when you look for travel alternatives and end up booking a flight to see your family because the train costs four times more. Or when you realize how governments around the globe still protect and promote industries that are harmful to the environment every day and you’re feeling powerless to change anything about that.
Being conscious of how our behaviour as humans has such an impact on the environment can be stressful, frustrating and a burden sometimes.
When we first had the idea to start this blog it was the consequence of exactly this mindset. What can I personally DO to take some action and enhance the conversation about our responsibility but also our frustration to protect this planet? How can I tackle the hopeless feeling of defeat and be more active?
We all know it is impossible to always do the right thing. But I’d like to persuade you that small decisions matter and can lead to huge results if we find enough people to join the movement. If you use a menstruation cup you save approximately 11.400 tampons or pads over your life span. If you convince your best friend and your sister, that’s already 34.200 (did I use a calculator for this? Yes.). See where I’m going?
Here are some ideas on how you can ease your frustrations and take action (if you’re not doing it already):
1) Give a shit.
If you are here and you’re reading this text, it means you are aware that there is a problem and that we need to do something in order to protect our planet. Good! Thank you for supporting our fight.
2) Educate yourself and your family.
Do your research! How could you improve and lower your footprint? Which companies and associations are trying to do better than others? Which are the most conflicted areas in your life when it comes to the environment? And then: be an example to follow for your family and friends. From a very early age, kids understand how important it is to care for plants and animals if you teach them. Try to sensitise them that every action has an impact.
3) Share your insights.
If you found a zero-waste alternative to a conventional product that you like: promote it on social media! Many people may not even know about it. Or if you heard about a new app to reduce food waste (like togoodtogo): let your friends know about it.
4) Review your diet.
The biggest threat to nature is agriculture. Right now, already 50% of the world’s habitable land is used for livestock breeding like cows and pigs or crops to feed both people and livestock. Almost 80% of the world’s soybean production is fed to livestock, especially for beef, chicken, egg and dairy production (milk, cheeses, butter, yogurt, etc). Like Silvia wrote in a different article, going (partly) vegan or vegetarian is a big step on our journey to a healthier planet. And one that’s relatively “easy” to do on your own without depending on any political decisions. You could also cook your friends a fancy plant-based dinner and make them see that you don’t need meat to have a delicious meal.
Secondly: try to eliminate food waste! Plan your weekly meals ahead and don’t shop with an empty stomach. Try batch cooking as a great way to save time and money by using all of your fridge stock.
5) Make your balcony/terrace or garden wildlife-friendly.
Attracting bees and butterflies with flowers will help them pollinate other plants. Always plant local species to avoid the spreading of invasive, non-native ones. Think about setting up an insect hotel or a birdbath (disinfect those often to prevent diseases).
6) Reduce, reduce, reduce.
You have such a big influence as a consumer. But the first big decision is to NOT consume as much as you used to. Even the most fairly produced organic products use natural resources and have to be shipped to get to you, etc. So before you buy something new you should always ask yourself: Do I REALLY need this? And if the answer is yes, then ask: Could I borrow it from someone or buy it second-hand? Only then do you need to start to research the greenest company to offer the product.
7) Support brands that care.
It’s not always easy to tell which products are better than others. As a general rule, I’d say try to go local (and seasonal when it comes to food) and choose organic whenever you can. It’s better for the environment and supporting producers and sellers that are near you is also good for your community. Look for fair-trade production and a responsible use of resources (the good trade is a great source, or the good-on-you app for fashion).
And again, support these companies by sharing your experience. Follow your local shops on Facebook and Instagram and let your neighbours know about them.
8) Support organizations that care.
Support environmental groups and organisations, both on- and offline (like extinction rebellion, Fridays for Future, The Nature Conservancy, WWF, Greenpeace, etc.) by signing their petitions, going to demonstrations, or even becoming an active member. You could also make a monthly donation to these organisations.
Choose parties that have environmentally friendly politics and that share your concerns about the future of our planet and humanity.
Please let me know what you think should be added to this list! Here at HolaTomorrow we try to contribute with our humble grain of sand to a better tomorrow. But we can only chance things together, as a community and that’s what we’re aiming for. We’re in this together, let’s not give up.
VERA // Barcelona