Kids of the nineties will undoubtably remember as fondly as I do, the animated television show ‘Captain Planet and the Planeteers’. It was show unlike any other I’ve seen since, which conveyed a message regarding both the importance of environmental care and of loving and nurturing our planet to its young viewers.
It was my favourite program growing up and I never missed an episode. The Planeteers were my heroes. When I wasn’t forcing my little brother to play Barbies with me, we were climbing trees and saving Earth from heinous villains such as Hoggish Greedly and Dr. Blight. I wanted to be Linka, the smart thinking, blonde Russian who wielded the power of wind and I had a long running crush on the smooth talking Wheeler, who I now believe was the catalyst for my extreme fondness as an adult for ginger haired men.
Captain Planet was both fun and educational – after every episode they had a quick segment at the end where the Planeteers encouraged their viewers to do their bit to take care of the environment… Advising them to turn off lights when leaving a room, recycle and take shorter showers. I remember being very conscientious as a child, taking care to always put my rubbish in the bin and to think about the amount of energy I was consuming in my day to day activities.
Now I am an adult and my environmental footprint is something that plagues my thoughts quite a lot. I don’t litter and I still manage to turn lights off when I leave a room (thanks for ingraining that deep into my inner psyche, Captain Planet!) but I know now that I personally do not do nearly enough to combat the impact that my life has on the state of our planet.
Strongly believing that you should “be the change you want to see in the world”, I am trying to be a better human being, who gives back to the planet that we live on.
if you want to join me in my quest, here are a few small, easy ways that the everyday layman can employ to lessen their impact on the planet.
Ditch your car
This was inevitable – I moved overseas and it wasn’t like I was going to pack up my car and take it with me. I can’t lie – I miss my little red Getz more than the deserts miss the rain, but acknowledge that overall it was the right thing to do. I now catch buses and the tube or because I am both stingy and badly in need of exercise, I try to walk whenever possible. I would like to buy a bike at some stage in the near future and will do so once I have mentally readied myself for facing the horror that is London traffic.
Try to eat less packaged, processed foods
My heart weeps when I walk into Tescos or Sainsburys and see that everything in the produce section is individually wrapped – right down to the two pack of avocados. Wholefoods is only slightly better; at least most of their produce is loose. Being on a quest to avoid packaged foods, I am turning to alternative sources. I have heard the Real Foods Markets are a good option for produce, dairy, meats, BROWNIES and am keen to check out Unpackaged – an organic food shop that have removed packaging entirely, inviting their customers to bring their own containers to refill.
If you want to limit your usage of plastic bags, then carry a portable shopping bag around in your own bag or backpack. This is great for after-work spontaneous food shopping.
Before Zara opened in Australia and was therefore still a novelty, I’d rush to it whenever I found myself in the USA or Europe. Later, I would wonder why I had spent $60 on a blouse that would not only shortly be out of fashion, but was dropping buttons by the third or fourth wear.
My mother was quite the fashionista and I inherited (read: stole) her wardrobe as soon as I was old enough to have any sort of dress sense, when I was definitely firmly into my early twenties. I would squeeze into her attire, despite being a good 7cms taller and a few kilos heavier than she. Wearing her clothes brought with it a myriad of compliments and got my brain wheels turning. These threads had not only withstood the test of time, some of them being up to forty years old, but they had a history.
I began shopping secondhand, at charity stores, vintage shops and online, scouring eBay for items. My wardrobe has generally been cheaper to purchase than fast-fashion “bargains” at H&M, Primark et al and unlike the clothes from these stores, do not adhere to seasonal trends. Plus, they are durable!
Eschew chemical rubbish
I think the adage of “if you wouldn’t eat it, why would you put it on your skin?” is certainly a good philosophy to follow. This is why Apple Cider Vinegar has become my new best friend; I use it as a toner, hair conditioner and I ingest it whenever I remember to do so in the morning.
You can apply this notion to cleaning as well. I recently switched from “Eco-friendly” detergents and surface cleaners to white vinegar (surface spray, also can be used as a laundry cleaner), baking soda (great for removing stubborn stains) and liquid castile soap (use in lieu of dishwashing liquid and toilet cleaner). They get the job done, are non-toxic and you save a lot of cash in the process.
These are only four small, simple ways you can green up your life. But in all honesty – doing something is better than sitting idle and doing nothing.