I do not want to start this year’s blogging with an apology for being late with this post (It is already the 6th!) – and so I won’t. This is one of the main goals for this year: not to feel pressurised because I think that other people think that I think that they think that I think…
You get the picture!
So far, I have succeeded in maintaining a tranquil and relaxed start to the year, although the horrendous wildfires in Australia make all of us so very painfully aware of the urgency of the Climate Crisis. It is true that we won’t be able to solve the disastrous effects of climate change with bamboo toothbrushes or eco-friendly cleaning products. These little changes to our everyday lives are only tiny parts of the greater whole, but they are nonetheless important ones. To retain our sanity and ultimately make us stronger these can help to feel that we are doing something and prepare us for the bigger tasks ahead. I’ll refer you back to my article on eco-anxiety.
Mindset and Mindmaps
So, it is not all about resolutions or goals. It is more about our mindsets. Think of them as mind maps that can help you steer on your course towards a more sustainable future. Hold it in your mind and don’t worry too much about how you get there at present. You will find out about that through serendipitous occurrences, synchronicity and sometimes pure chance and linking yourself up with groups and other people, either online or face to face. So, yes, goals ARE important, but not for their own sake and only as a tool for self-gratification (although I do believe you should start with treating yourself nicely, that way it will be easier to treat everyone else nicely, too). I would also rather call them options. Some of them can become resolutions, others remain options.
Much of the below will work best if we think of the big themes and then break them down into smaller tasks to prevent ourselves from getting overwhelmed by it. So, what are the big themes? Food. Household cleaning and furnishings. Plastics. Gardening. Clothes. Transport and Travel. Energy (Heating & Cooling). Water. Recycling. Activism. Children.
The big themes are too much to cope with all at once for the individual. And you won’t have to do it all at once. It is urgent, so be inspired and take the first step. Below are a few ideas you can add to or use as an incentive to make your own list.
Green Planet and Green Living @ Home
- You may want to consider joining an environmental group such as Friends of the Earth or Extinction Rebellion.
- Look out for a local climate group where you live.
- Subscribe to the Ethical Consumer or other magazines to help you with your consumer choices.
- Give your shopping habits and food choices a serious overhaul. For example, cook some vegan recipes just for a change and stop ordering takeaways. This is a good way to economize too and to be observant how and what you eat. I am not advocating to give up meat, eggs and dairy altogether if that is something that is not feasible for you and your family, but limiting it and being more mindful is certainly a step in the right direction.
- Ask yourself, how much control do we actually really have over our lives? Can we really curb our plastic consumption? Yes, to a degree, so we have to content ourselves to operate within our limits. Start with your bathroom and make it as plastic-free as possible. Follow up with your kitchen and banish all single-use plastic cutlery, straws, cling film, sponges etc.
- This is another important thing you may want to consider: pick a charity of your choice to donate some money – Rainforest alliance or an animal welfare one such as the Orang Utan Foundation. Give some money to one of them instead of buying yourself an expensive item as a birthday present you don’t really need – it is all about a serious shift in values.
- In my household, I will mostly concentrate on water and energy use this year. Green cleaning and plastic reduction in my bathroom and kitchen have featured centre stage in the past 18 months or so, including green parenting in the humble form of using reusable nappies and absolutely avoiding wet wipes. Surprised anyone? It is indeed possible! Here comes the secret trick: cloth wipes and water. Whoever would have thought!? (Please, excuse the sarcasm, but wet wipes make my stomach churn! More on that in a follow-up post 🙂
- Start a herb and vegetable garden. Reading the book Mini-farming by Brett L. Markham is a good work of reference. There are many more out there to get you started.
Make a pledge. Integrate your children into your everyday life according to their abilities which vary with age or personality. Make your family life and community life major focal points, for only as a functioning community will we be able to take on the challenges ahead of us.
- You may want to add some good parenting books to your reading list. Try Whole-Brain Child by D. Siegel and T. Payne-Bryson and the bestselling classic How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and How To Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Their daughters have added a version for younger children (ages 2-7) which I am reading at the moment. It will change your parenting style if you ever had one, help you to feel more secure and not just muddling through. If you had rather trust your gut-feeling, that is fine too, but if you ever read one book about parenting, make it one of these.
- Ask yourself: what does spending some “creative time” with your children mean to you? Drawing? Baking? Making music? Dancing? Crafts like glueing or making lanterns? The options are endless. And that what being creative is all about. Associate freely.
- Ask yourself: what does spending some “social time” with your children mean to you? Finding playmates for them? Going to playgroups in an in- or outdoor’s setting? Just spending time with them and not curtailing emotions but using everyday situations to teach them social skills like empathy? There is a lot to say about that, and if you really want to know, start reading one of those books I mentioned above (see #1).
- One more word about dance (and I know I am somewhat biased here, as dancing is a hobby of mine): the fabulous thing about dance is musicality, rhythm, language and gross motor skills are all being learnt at the same time in a perfect bundle that frees you up and also teaches self-expression.
- And last but not least: make time for lots of shared family activities outdoors like walking, cycling, going to playgrounds. If you cannot be outdoors, try swimming or activity centres, anything where lots of movement is included away from screens.
Have a happy (and green) 2020 🙂