Fighting the Battle; Acknowledging feelings of negativity

I have come to realize I am more often overwhelmed with negative thoughts, than positive ones. Whether it be school work, societal issues or the dooming concept of environmental degradation. The idea of hope has become lost within my mind, as I stumble to replace my worries with realistic and viable solutions…

This is a struggle that I face daily. As my generation becomes stereotyped for its apathetic tendencies, and the society in which I live considers climate change to be an issue acceptable of ignorance. Far too many people preach about social injustices, without truly living the values they claim to associate themselves with. Far too often do I encounter people with concerns and inquiries surrounding the system, but who never take the initiative and act. Worse yet, I find people who are unwilling to aid in a cause without feeling praised, respected or acknowledged for their work. We are so caught up in our own personal successes that we have neglected to acknowledge our one united responsibility; to conserve and protect the natural world that gives us so much.

Whilst reflecting on environmental science and policy in my University classes, I find myself sinking deeper into a depressant state of hopelessness. Therefore, I am writing this blog. To acknowledge that hope isn’t always fluid, and that many of us fighting for change and the betterment of our world, can feel helpless and pessimistic at times. This isn’t to say we give up. This isn’t to say; we are failing ourselves. This is merely a side effect of fuelling our lives with endless passion, and it’s a sign that we need some inspiration.

Try this exercise:

Take a deep breath, let in a wholesome dose of much needed air. Now let it out, slowly. Let out all the worry filled tension that is carried within those strong, courageous lungs. Repeat this step. As you breathe, feel your feet become one with the ground below them. Picture your toes stemming roots, that plant deeply into the earth that holds you. Allow your body to be at peace with its surroundings and protect your mind from any opposing forces of enlightenment. This is the moment; the moment in which you can learn and grow your understanding of activism and change. It starts with you; your wellness and internal forces guide you through the journey of positive influence. This means that the way you breathe, ground yourself and initiate your mind all lead to your overall success.

This exercise may have seemed strange, but having an overall understanding of the system in which you live, think and move is vital in creating change. The idea of activism is one that is birthed from self-esteem, confidence and a passion-fueled fire inside. Allow your body to ignite, and give it the energy needed to stay alive. When a large gust of negativity blows out your flame, don’t stand alone and feel fear for the dark. Use the natural elements around your system to give life to new ideas, stronger passions and learned hope. Stay strong, remember you are not alone and acknowledge that your weakness doesn’t determine your overall success.

 

“The environment is in us, not outside of us. The trees are our lungs, the rivers our bloodstream. We are all interconnected, and what you do to the environment, ultimately you do to yourself.” – Ian Somerhalder

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Time to open up!

…. A book that is!

 A huge part of staying motivated and constant with your climate action routines, is staying informed and maintaining current knowledge on the topic. For many folks, reading can be therapeutic and often acts as an outlet of positivity and passion. The following are some of my recent favourites, some suggestions and new finds.

Geoff Dembicki, Are We Screwed?

Last year the Okanagan First Things First crew put together an Alternative Energy Symposium, geared to provide people with information and better knowledge surrounding local, green energy options. Geoff was one of our many special guests, who shared his story and passion with students in hopes of relating to the millennial demographic and perspective. He is a 31-year-old international journalist, who shares his stories and insight about the younger generations struggles’ with climate change and the broken system that is currently doing little to fix it. I would highly suggest this book to any high school, university or 20 something looking for a relatable, yet positive read.

Tzeporah Berman, This Crazy Time

Want to read a book written by a passionate, driven and boss ass lady? This is the book for you. Last spring, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a talk by Tzeporah Berman during the Meadowlark Festival (an event you can’t miss out on in the Okanagan valley!). She rocked me with her story, initiative and overall very accomplished career as an environmentalist and lobbyist. Her book tells the story of her life, her challenges and her will to push past the negativity that crowds her field of work.

Maude Barlow, Boiling Point

This one is a classic; packed full of national knowledge and stats that will leave you feeling much more educated on the importance of water within the country and worldwide. If you haven’t already, sign up to be a member of The Council of Canadians! Maude Barlow’s book comes free with a $10/month membership and you will be supporting a movement of highly trained lobbyists around the country (plus it’s a killer way to stay informed via email and postal updates!). This book is well sourced and heavy on the content, so it’s meant for a reader that is looking for the facts, rather than a story.

That’s it for now folks, stay tuned for more updates and inspiring readings! If you have suggestions, questions or general inquiries, please send me a direct message or email whenever!

 

 

Waste

Let’s start with the basics: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We often forget that these are listed in such order… The most important R is reducing and the last resort is to recycle (it’s not a pick and choose system). Landfills are one of the biggest emitters of methane into the air, so by eliminating waste you are also saving the atmosphere! Here are some tips to reducing your everyday waste:

-Grocery Shopping: bring your own bags (and encourage local grocery stores to invest in paper bags instead of plastic), don’t make them print that extra receipt unless you really need it, don’t buy it unless you need it or will eat it.

-Commercial Shopping: Buy used (thrift stores have great deals and finds + remember that you are a consumer and you make the demand, therefore the less the consumer demands the less they produce!), bring your own bags, only buy it if you need or love it, do you really need those receipts if you love it???, donate your clothes (so many people in need!), have/attend garage sales and flea markets (this is a great way to enjoy your Saturday mornings and you will fine some great/hilarious finds!)

-Fix ‘er up: A great way to reduce your waste is by fixing up old items and using them again: learn to sew or embrace Grandma’s skills, get your shoes repaired or shined (keep the industry alive at the same time!) and furniture/appliance repair is also an easy and cheap option.

-Plan Ahead: with reusable supplies for your outings: bottles/tupperware/cutlery/cups/containers/

Locally-made items.

-Buy Bulk: this allows you to use reusable containers and save a few bucks.

-Compost: this is a great way to reduce your waste and gain your green thumb some credibility! (*warning: keep compost well-sealed, don’t put yourself or the wildlife in risk).

-Proper Disposal: things like paint, batteries, pens, household chemicals, electronics or even light bulbs all have specific disposal directions. If you are unsure about an item, google it or shoot me an email! Stores such as staples make it easy to recycle office supplies and appliances, not to mention campaigns like “Zinc Saves Lives” that use batteries to cure zinc deficiencies in developing countries! (there are so many positive benefits to recycling, take advantage of them.)

-Get Digital: with your bills, newspaper, penpals and more! It’s easy to switch your energy bill from mail to email, and even easier to check the news on your iPhone. Also sending projects via email or on a USB stick can save paper, ie: trees (USP “stick”… hah)

-Borrow: if you won’t use something often, try to borrow it from a neighbour or rent it out instead of buying it new! (also by returning the favour, you get the chance to connect with people you may otherwise have not).

-Paper Products: paper products are usually unnecessary: such as paper towel and cotton balls or swabs, invest in dish cloths and face cloths (these guys are the true “quicker, picker, uppers!”).

-Feminine Hygiene: Okay, let’s talk girls for a second. Gal pals, periods suck PERIOD, but not just for us females! Tampons and pads are just another way we are polluting this planet and there are other, easier ways to deal with mother nature’s monthly gift! Whether it’s a washable pad or a diva cup, ladies it’s time to make the change. (here is a link to a website with options: http://www.bepreparedperiod.com/reusable-products but don’t rule out a stop at your local Walmart, eliminating some of those fossil fuels.) PS: The Diva Cup may seem like a scary things at first, but she’s going to be your BFF in no time! (truly a change worth making, not just for the world but for yourself!)

-Embrace Broken Goods: this may seem like a crafty, cuckoo, crazy, cat lady idea, BUT things such as broken glass or ceramic can be crafted into cute, new items! (such as a fun way of tiling a floor or a unique garden border). Old, stained mugs??? = new homes for potted plants!

Looking for more ideas, check these websites:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/home-items-you-can-reuse-over-and-over-again/

https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/reuse-everything

http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2014/10/63-ideas-reusing-disposable-household-items.html

http://recyclingnearyou.com.au/education/25-things-to-re-use.cfm

http://www.recyclingcenters.org/Top_50_Things_To_Recycle_and_Reuse.php

Energy

The average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer is 10,812 kilowatt hours (kWh), an average of 901 kWh per month… and the average Canadian is not far behind that. We use way too much energy, whether it’s burning fossil fuels or coal-burning electricity consumption. We need to realize how this energy is made and how it’s impacting the world.

-Transportation: probably the most talked about cause for global warming, and one that people seem to think they have little control over. In today’s world transportation via bus, car or plane seems unavoidable, but there are many things we can do to decrease our fossil fuel emissions!

  • Avoiding it: carpool, take public transit, embrace your one-gear bike with the frilly streamer handles, invest in good running shoes (more or less a joke, but seriously in small towns walking is an easy way to get around!), and fly economy class (the carpool of the air world).
  • Denying it: lobby against big pipelines or fracking developments, invest/encourage alternative energy, drive fuel efficiently (not just your car, but your driving style: Don’t accelerate when unnecessary (speeding=reduce in mileage=waste of gas and money=more fossil fuel emissions), Don’t idle or heat up your seat before getting into your car (PSA: you will not die of hypothermia), avoid traffic (checking the roads=not being stuck in traffic=no idling=less fossil fuel emissions), remove excess weight from your car, make trips quick (combine your errands, we don’t all have to be Emily Gilmore).
  • Outsmarting it: Use an energy efficient/alternative energy based car, educate yourself on vehicles and the impact yours has, call people into the conversation and share your knowledge (one of the biggest mistakes we activists make is “calling out”. When you call someone out it can make them angry or discouraged and could put them off of your movement/cause. Instead we must call people in, let them know what more they can be doing, why they should do it and how they can start!).
  • Staycations: This term is one of my favourites. We live in one of the prettiest places in the world and there is so much to explore in our own backyard! Stay in the province/country for your vacation, you will save money and get to know the place you live even better! (plus your Christmas cards will look much more thug than the Robson’s’ super basic Mexico pic)

-Heating and Cooling: us humans like to avoid the cold and shy away from the sun, and some super intelligent people have come up with ways to make our homes the perfect temperature all year round! Unfortunately though, this uses tons of energy: natural gases and electricity are often mislabeled as green energy, but are really just as bad as the rest (with natural gas extraction pumping methane into our atmosphere and most electricity based out of coal-burning power plants, this energy can’t even be considered friendly for the environment). These tips will help you make your house more energy efficient and that emailed energy bill go wayyyyy down.

  • Seal ‘er up: simply making sure your doors and windows are properly sealed can make a big difference (it’s cheap and easy to do)
  • Talk Thermostat to me: let’s program that baby to keep at a consistent temperature and turn off when we aren’t around! (plus, don’t always reach for the thermostat when you are feeling a chill, putting a sweater on can make a huge difference)
  • Use Alternatives: such as geothermal or solar energy

-Appliances: We all know that Energy Star has got our back when buying new, but how do we make due with the appliances we already have?

  • Turn off any lights and appliances that are not in use (this means being plugged in too! Your phone doesn’t need all night to charge, its a waste to leave it plugged in overnight)
  • Be wise with you washing: wash in cold water, specify how big the load is (really fill ‘er up!), shorten your cycles, hang clothes whenever possible. (same rules apply to the dishes!)

Water

The moment you have all been waiting for. The moment Victoria lets loose on her hatred of bottled water, the bath bomb trend and golf courses. Water, the world’s most prized resource. We all use it, we all take it for granted and we are all able to save it.

-Use Less: Showers, baths, washing your face/hands, brushing your teeth, and more! Be cautious with your water use.

-Biodegradable: make sure your hygiene products, detergents, sprays, cleaning products, makeup are biodegradable or natural (all of these items will be going down the drain at some point, so make sure they don’t contain any harmful chemicals!) While you’re at the whole biodegradable thing, make sure to eliminate the use of aerosols!

-Xeriscape: this reduces your use of water tremendously and it’s much easier to maintain! If you want an even “greener” thumb, be sure to plant nothing but native species, also use that killer compost you got from your reused food waste and watch those babies grow. (PSA: lawns suck and you suck if you cut and water your lawn daily. This is legit the dumbest thing humans do with water… besides golf courses, golf courses also suck).

-Hydroelectricity: This is technically considered a ‘green” energy resource alongside natural gas, but it causes major problems in migratory and water cycles (as well as the possibility of pollution and the huge amounts of habitat loss due to the dam development). Don’t support or use this energy, go for solar or geothermal instead.

-Veganism/Vegetarianism: large amounts of water are used to produce animal products, so by reducing your intake you are also reducing how much water you use.

Food

Tofurkey is the new black! That’s right folks we are diving into this topic! One of the biggest culprits of climate change is the animal agriculture system, there are documentaries everywhere and the concept is not a hoax made up by the Chinese… As much as we all love our hamburgers and steaks, this industry uses outrageous amounts of water and energy to produce such a small, yet excepted, meal for the average North American. NEWS FLASH, we can’t keep living like this: exploiting and abusing animals, water privilege and land use (not to mention how much deforestation animal agriculture alone is responsible for.)

-Going Vegetarian/Vegan: this may seem like a drastic lifestyle change but now-a-days there are lots of vegan friendly restaurants, shopping and recipe ideas and a whole vegan and veggie community! (this change is one worth making, not only for the world but for your well being!)

-Reducing your meat intake: if the above option is totally ruled out, you can simple focus on reducing how much you consume a week (making Tuesday and Thursday meat nights, for example.) This will also reduce your methane emission.

-Buying Local: buying locally grown and sourced food, you are eliminating the amount of transportation (=less fossil fuels burned)

-Buying Organic: pesticides and fertilizers have caused much pollution for our aquatic life, by eliminating the use of these chemicals you can make a big different for our waterways and oceans. (Q: Where is the greatest majority of Global Warming going? A: Oceans, more than 93.4%)

-Avoid Robert Mugabe’s Birthday: this is somewhat of a kid, but for lack of a better joke: we are talking 2 elephants, 2 buffalo, 2 sables, 5 impalas and 1 lion… (a sad day in Zimbabwe, even sadder for our atmosphere)