For a long time, I believed that meaningful change had to come from the top. I though we had to see changes in legislation on an unimaginable scale to have any hope at saving the planet, and this obsession with ‘refusing the straw’ was entirely missing the point.
But… I’ve changed my mind.
Because, like it or not, the law is never going to change for the benefit of the earth. Not while the people in power continue to profit from her destruction. The law will change just enough to prevent a revolution overthrowing those at the top, but no government or corporation is going to hand over their wealth and power by choice.
As long as a small minority is profiting from a system that puts economic wealth before human and environmental health, we can’t expect them to do anything.
We have to make our daily choices count for something. They are all we have.
The choices we have
What does it mean to make your choices count, though? Well, it’s more about reflecting and committing on how you can personally make positive changes rather than following a guidebook from someone else. (REALLY committing, not just thinking about it and then forgetting again.)
I’ll give you some examples all the same.
We might be concerned about the decline of pollinating species, but did we stop and help move that bumble bee out of the path? We might hate the fact that whales are washing up with bellies full of plastic, but did we pick up that litter we walked past on our walk? Or did we leave it because it’s ‘someone else’s problem’?
Did we give any food to that homeless man we always see on the corner? Did we at least look him in the eyes and speak respectfully when we explained that we weren’t able to help right now?
Are we using disposable masks? Do we at least get our coffee in a keep cup?
Maybe we know that the way we produce food is wiping out the natural world. But did we buy the chocolate spread with or without palm oil? We don’t like chickens being raised in cages, but did we make an effort to source eggs from a genuinely ethical source?
The thing is, the big problems and the little problems can’t be separated. If we can’t even stop to help a worm off the road before it dries out when we are walking by, how are we going to be able to withstand the mega-corporations that would tear up mother earth for the right price?
Transforming The Earth
Whenever I go for a walk now, I pick up all the litter that I see.
Sometimes I get back to the van with a binload full to take to a recycling point, and that’s OK. It feels good to act in line with my morals instead of blaming someone else, somewhere else. The time to act is now, and we have to be the ones to start it.
And the question isn’t whether picking up that particular piece of litter matters. It isn’t whether replacing our toxic laundry detergent with an eco egg or buying second-hand clothes is going to transform the world alone. But if we can’t face up to our own actions, then how can we expect anyone else to?
Are we participating in beach cleans? Are we striving to use less disposable plastic? Are the nappies that we put our baby in reusable or are they the type that will be polluting the earth for 500 years?
And of course, we need the big change too. We can’t take all the burden on ourselves. But there is so much that we can do. Right now, we can start washing our home with baking soda or vinegar instead of toxic chemicals and save money as well as the planet.
Right now, we can donate some money, no matter how little, to Extinction Rebellion or Sea Shepherd. Right now, we can cycle to the corner shop instead of taking the car. We can sign up to volunteer as a dog walker at a refuge, or we can start composting our food waste to reduce methane emissions.
Right now, we can decide to stop buying cookies in plastic packets and start baking them ourselves. (You can freeze cookie dough, btw, total lifesaver)
We can start being the change that we want to see in the world, or we can continue down the path that we know is hurting the earth and leading to astronomical rates of depression and anxiety.
Let’s remember that you don’t have to justify your existence.
If you have a lot of personal pain to work through right now, don’t go beating yourself up for not doing more for others. It’s a good idea to focus on what you need first and foremost, and then slowly start widening your sphere of influence as you feel more emotionally resilient.
Then again, helping others can be so good for our mental health too. Just keep in mind that you will burn out if you keep pouring out your life force without replenishing it. So self-care is essential. (REAL SELF CARE, not just the occasional face mask!)
It’s time to start leading by example.
It’s time to adopt real changes, right now.
Let our lives leave the earth a kinder and safer place. Let our actions inspire those that we touch so that the ripple effect of helping out that stranded worm in France reaches a woman in the frickin’ outback of Australia.
We can’t wait for someone else to save us. The little things matter and it’s time that we stepped up.
Wherever you are reading this, I wish you all the health and happiness in the world. Thank you for everything you are already doing to protect the people, animals, plants, and minerals of this beautiful planet.
You might also like to read:
- 10 Household Swaps to Save Your Wallet and the Earth
- The Inseparable Health Of People And The Earth
- Making Deeper Connection When You Live On The Road
- Moving Away From Capitalism With Gratitude
And if you want to find out more about changing the world by changing yourself, you can check out the Highly Sensitive Nomad Book.
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