28th January 2020
12 things we can do to help save the world
The new decade is under way, and what a beginning. Unprecedented bush fires in Australia. The Doomsday clock ticking onward... Another series of Love Island to avoid. Miserable stuff to start the decade. But despair not! We are capable of working together for the greater good. From the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis, the WHO, Live Aid, to the UN & EU (corrupt and bloated as the EU is).
An old man, walking at dawn along a beach saw that it was strewn with thousands of starfish washed ashore by a storm the previous night. In the half light he saw a younger man apparently dancing in the distance near the water's edge. As he approached he saw the youth was spinning the stars back into the sea, one by one. Puzzled, the man looked down at the lad and asked what he was up to. Without looking up, the boy replied, “I’m saving these starfish." The old man chuckled, “My boy, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you possibly make?” The youth picked up a star and tossed it into the water. Turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”*
A few us us giving up plastic straws won't do a great deal of good, or even many sea creatures but every action and inaction has a consequence. The greatest thing we can do is use our voices and our votes, more on that later, but in the meantime...
January and February
Declutter your home and live longer
Too much stuff? New Year, new broom! Decluttering your home life is great for the soul and may even help you live longer. The
According to a study conducted by UCLA, more clutter in the home has a correlation with higher cortisol (the "stress hormone"), especially in mothers. The best way to keep the clutter down is to reduce what we bring in: less consumption is of course better for us and better for the planet. Something made and owned once is rarely ever completely gone. But if you are already cluttered, and most of us are perhaps you you try a bit of Swedish Death Cleaning! Rather than being some kind of modern viking purge, it is the mindful and ongoing process of clearing out of possessions and clutter in the latter part of one's life: shedding those unnecessary objects in favour of those that we actually need and leaving a far less onerous task for the loved ones we leave behind when we eventually shuffle off this mortal coil.
I love this US wartime conservation motto,
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" was something our parents' generation did naturally during and after the second world war, but the old adage is as valid and relevant today as it's ever been.
From clothing and bedding to water bottles and soap dispensers, only a fraction of all plastic ever made is recycled. With a bit of thought and effort we can choose alternatives. The Zero Waste Near Me web site is a handy locator for zero waste shops.
Wool is still a byproduct of low intensity agriculture, is 100% biodegradeable and will last for years.
Less meat more plant
If you haven't already done "Veganuary" it's not too late to reduce your meat intake (or meat eating days) for the rest of the year. It's not just good for the environment, it's good for you. Methane in beef, sheep and pig farming is a serious issue and although, as I previously reported, scientists are working on breeding sheep that produce less methane we should all eat less red meat anyway.
Turn down the heat in February? Really?
For most of our readers February is the coldest month of the year and, unless you are smart enough to have already moved into a Passivhaus, you're likely to be suffering the highest heating costs of the year this month.
Turn it down and layer up
So why should get out and buy a good thinck wool jumper and turn down the heating at home? (No we don't sell them yet, but Finisterre does).
Government studies show that if we all turned down the heating by 2 C from 20 C to this at home it would very likely save up to 33,400 GWh of energy, that's 3,090 KWh per household per year). What does this mean?
Well... that is 33 million Megawatt hours. In other words...
Nearly twice the energy that the City of Birmingham uses in a year or more than Hinckley Point C nuclear power station could generate over six weeks (if it's ever finished). Meat may be going out of fashion but wool (not polyester) jumpers are in. And so it must finally be acceptable for a British gentleman wear a hat indoors. And not just a nightcap.
Bake a cake
My more fluffy but less woolly solution: stay active and bake a ginger cake. Eschew the electric mixer and mix by hand. It'll get you warm in three ways; the mixing, the baking and, yes, the eating.
Of course traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have been using ginger as effective remedies for maybe a thousand years and old salts have also known of the qualities of ginger for hundreds of years. When I was a professional yachtsman, if I had a seasick crewman I would put the clammy pallid creature on the helm and give him or her a root of ginger to chew on. I didn't know the science (nobody does) but for sure it woke and warmed them up, got rid of the seasickness and made them useful again. Even in the North Sea. Even in February.
12 things we can do to help save the world is art of an ongoing blog post. Please come back later for more.
* Inspired by The Star Thrower by Loren Eyseley via Joel Barker