Environment Page
Ten Steps

This is a list of some important things we need to do, in order to have a sustainable future. Some of these steps are simpler than others, some might seem radical changes to your habits, but they are necessary ones for us to have a viable future. Incorporate at least one of these things into your lifestyle as of today and the world will be a cleaner, healthier place...simple! You could even work your way through the list as a great beginning.

The production of energy and the use of petroleum account for the majority of household pollution. The good news is that the first two things on the list are probably the easiest to implement straight away.

  1. Lower your private automobile and airplane usage - Burn fat not oil and use your own power where possible. Walk down to the shops and ride a bicycle on longer trips, its fun and helps tackle some of our others social problems, obesity and pollution. Basically you can look at the type of journey you need to take, short - walk, medium - bike/public transport/taxi, long - combination of public transport and bike. You can also hire cars and even work out a sharing arrangement with friends or family for those few days a year you really need one. Cut down the majority of your car usage and you've also made the world a little safer. Each year car accidents kill almost as many people as war and suicide combined. Pets and native animals are also killed in their millions. If you must have a car, don't become dependent on it, and the more fuel efficient the better. As for holidays, train journeys are amazing, you can take buses to all sorts of places and meet new people. Bike holidays can be great too, actually see places rather than hurtling past them. Finally if you need to fly or drive somewhere, set aside a small amount to offset the carbon emissions with one of the many schemes out there which buy forests and plant trees.
  2. Use less energy - Instead of turning on the heater, put on a jumper. Theres a chinese proverb that says "Cut your wood yourself and it will warm you twice". Whenever buying household appliances, look for the various energy ratings, you will save money in the long run and chances are the company will be of better quality if they are up to date with these sort of issues. Turn off the lights, buy energy efficient light bulbs, and if you own your own home consider alternative forms of energy or subscribe to one of the nationwide greenpower schemes now being offered Click here for information about Australian providers, for a couple of dollars a month it's the equivalent to taking a car off the road. Many of the other suggestions here will also end up in you using less energy.
  3. Stop using disposable items, especially plastics which have all sorts of negative effects in their production well before they get to be wrapped around your product. String bags are better for carrying your shopping anyway and people like me will admire you when they see you in the supermarket. I have seen people buying a bag, and then asking for a bag to put it in. This sort of stupidity has to stop. If you find yourself using plastic cups at work, buy a mug, if you get plastic cutlery to have your lunch with everyday keep a fork in your bag. Disposable things need to be transported around, even once they are put into your garbage fossil fuels are used to transport them to landfill.
  4. Recycle everything you can, if we have to use plastics and such the least we can do is try to buy recyclable products and dispose of them appropriately. Start by putting a cardboard box in your kitchen or office to put your recyclables in. Recycling saves a lot of energy and also natural resources that don't have to be drawn from the environment for no reason. There's also the landfill they save. As well you should purchase products made from recycled materials, we need to make sure there is a market for all that stuff we thoughtfully put in the bins. Do all your paper products have to be lily white? Our local supermarket has paper towels, writing pads and toilet paper, if yours doesn't why not shop around a bit. If you work in an office, try suggesting that they implement recycled paper, there are some good brands around now days, you can fill a seperate printer with the new partially recycled papers for special printing jobs.
  5. Use environmentally responsible chemicals around your house. Most of our water waste is just pumped straight into the sea, what you wouldn't want in a fish tank (or your stomache if you eat fish), don't put in the sea. When you are spraying pesticides on some bug, ask yourself if you and your family are more at risk of the bugs or the pesticide you are spraying on it. Use biodegradable cleaning products. If you use a biodegradable washing detergent you can get a shallow square bucket for your dishes and throw the water on your plants or the lawn afterwards instead of wasting twice the water by hosing it later.
  6. Use your consuming as a tool for change - Purchase ethical, renewable goods where possible, almost all the degradation of our environment is done for economic purposes. Hit them where it hurts, in their hip pocket, use the system to make your statement to people who might not understand any other appeals. Buy organic food where possible, they taste better and are better for you, they might cost more, but factor in the degradation of our world and they end up being a bargain. Use less animal products, they are environmentally intensive, for instance methane from livestock such as cattle contributes as much to greenhouse gas emissions as our cars do. Of course recycling and ethical consumption are good, but the least effect on the earth is to not buy some things in the first place.
  7. Be political, for a start vote green. Keep an eye out for ongoing environmental issues and lend your support, governments will always want their big projects that will make them look important, like dams and mines. We need flexible community support to pay attention to ongoing issues as they arise. When you become aware of issues that you find distressing, do something! Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper and to your local member of parliament, PM or anyone involved in the issue, you can bet the corporation making money out of destroying some piece of our natural heritage will be mobilising to do similar things (see Sharon Beder's 'Global Spin, The Corporate Assault on the Environment' for more information).
  8. Encourage others, probably the hardest thing to do succesfully on the list. You don't have to badger people who aren't environmentally aware, just remind them of the ethical choice they don't want to think about by your actions. Make apathy something they have to work at and hopefully they will give up on it. Wear a t-shirt, put a sticker on your bike, say something kind to that person putting their shopping into a string bag, there are so many negative consumerist images around (thousands each day according to studies) we need to fill as much of the mental environment with positive messages as we can.
  9. Start a compost heap or even grow a few organic herbs or vegies in the garden or in a pot on the windowsill, we don't need more landfill especially when it represents nutrients being leeched from soils in the countryside to end up as landfill in the cities. We don't need the packaging they represent, we don't need the fossil fuels burnt to bring you fruits in the middle of winter, we don't need the chemicals and genetic engineering to ensure they are presentable to you and we don't need water wasted on useless plants when you could plant something you will get many things from including aestethic pleasure. It has also been shown that growing food organically uses less greenhouse gas emissions due to those produced in the production of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, and if it's local there's less transport involved. Its part of being human to grow your own food it should be taught in schools in place of nationalism, I think you will be amazed by the pleasure you get out of such a simple thing.
  10. Support or join a society, there are great societies doing positive things but they need the support of people like you and me. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Planet Ark, the World Wildlife Fund and Wilderness Societies around the world just to name a few (my links page has all of these). We need mass action to affect things like government legislation (most pollution and environmental damage is cause by corporations) and one of the best ways of doing this is to add support to organizations who are already in the front line. Although it may not seem much to you to pay a few dollars each month, at the very least you are one more person they can say they represent when they go into discussions with governments and corporations about environmental issues. Even better if you have time and inclination is to get involved yourself.

OK, so if you are someone who wants to be more environmentally conscious, but hasn't yet made any changes in their lifestyle, then the above list may seem daunting. So pick a couple and make it "just how you do things", recycling is a nice easy starting point, as is being mindful of consuming less, or calling up your energy provider to enquire about green energy. Ultimately the important thing is to add consideration for the environment to your thinking about your actions in life. Very quickly they become habits you don't have to think about anymore. If we are to live in the the most beautiful work one day, this will be natural for everybody and we will have a healthier, more beautiful world as a result. Hopefully you can help bring this evolutionary step for humanities future about sooner.

by Cameron Green

Cameron Green
Last Updated - Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:04:32 -0600