Over the last month or so, I’ve found myself feeling like I’m not doing enough. Sure, I’ve been working my socks off – and the blog has been blossoming. Ethical Influencers has grown just under 300 members. So what’s the problem?
Internally, I’ve realised that an ethical lifestyle just isn’t going to cut it when it comes to combatting climate change.
I was contemplating this last week when a press release landed in my inbox: Want to save the planet? Stop trying to be its friend.
Why an ethical lifestyle isn’t enough
The study that prompted the press release was an eye-opening report into the psychology of climate compensation. Climate compensation is the practice of purchasing eco-friendly products with the belief that “the environmental impact … is unchanged or even reduced.”
This isn’t true.
In truth, I’ve never believed this idea, but I can see how many people might. The crux of the matter is that purchasing something labelled eco-friendly does not negate any environmental impact – of the object itself, or any other objects you may have.
It’s the same fallacy that eating a salad after a big bar of chocolate “offsets” the chocolate. We know that’s rubbish. And it’s the same here.
It’s time we got our hands dirty
Earlier this week, I became an Ambassador for the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)’s #YearofGreenAction. Across 2019, I’ll be working alongside the network of ambassadors to highlight ways we can all support our local environments, as well as a wider view of the UK and world as a whole.
While it’s not a groundbreaking campaign, it does give me an opportunity to address this feeling of inactivity. It’s time we got our hands dirty…
The 10 aims of DEFRA’s 25 Year Environment Plan
The #YearofGreenAction is just one of the 25 years making up DEFRA’s Environment Plan. DEFRA hopes to achieve the following 10 aims in their 25 Year Environment Plan:
- Clean air
- Clean and plentiful water
- Thriving plants and wildlife
- Reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards such as flooding and drought
- More sustainable and efficient use of natural resources
- Enhanced beauty, heritage and engagement with natural environment
- Mitigation and adaptation to climate change
- Minimisation of waste
- Management of exposure to chemicals
- Enhancement of biosecurity
The plan started in 2018, and its aims are ambitious, (although it’s not yet clear how all will be achieved – or if we have until 2043 to reach all of these).
Actions that have already happened in the last 12 months under the Environment Plan include:
- The microbead ban
- The plastic straw ban
- The development of a new Northern Forest
- The creation of a nature recovery network to reverse the decline in some British wildlife
- The introduction of a new statutory body to hold the Government accountable on the environment
How we can work to save the environment
It’s hard to not feel powerless in the face of climate change. People like Greta Thunberg, Emma Watson, and Naomi Klein have given me faith though – through large, community action, we genuinely can bring about change.
To start taking some Green Action in your own life, it’s important to take note of the places you’re currently neglecting. You could start taking small steps to a greener lifestyle by:
- Bring your own bags when shopping
- Grow houseplants
- Plant pollinator-friendly plants in your garden
- Read up on environmental news and policy
- Separate your waste into food waste, landfill waste, and recycling
- Shop and eat seasonal food
- Swap your car for walking, cycling, or public transport
- Use renewable energy at home
- Use a reusable water bottle
- Visit green spaces or coastal areas local to you
If you’re like me, and these are well-formed habits now, it’s time to step it up a notch…
- Campaign for a recycling programme at your workplace
- Start a blog or social channel to share the importance of climate change and how we can reduce our impact
- Take part in non-violent environmental marches and protests
- Volunteer with an environmental charity
What we need the Government to do…
With my new (and relatively direct) link to the Government, I’d also like to do more to highlight what we need to really make a difference and protect our environment.
Personally, I think the first step is to get everyone involved. If we’re going to make these changes, we need to invite as many people to do their bit as possible. In turn, that means making green action accessible to all. Changes have to be convenient, affordable, and easy to turn into habits. They have to be incentivised in a way that includes all members of our society.
While I don’t have the answer to achieve that just yet, I do know that I’m going to try my best to use my platforms and resources to make it possible. Let me know if you have any ideas on how best to do this, or if you would like to support the campaign!