As we rapidly approach the end of the year, so can begin some reflection of 2005. With this in mind, I wish to mull over a topic that has really grabbed my imagination this year—that of taking personal responsibility for the planet we live on and the economic and political environments that govern us.
In a year that has seen countless natural and tragic disasters (the Asian tsunami, 7/7, earthquakes and hurricanes) and an unusual political calendar (G8, the UK presidency of the EU and a General Election) and the campaigns that surrounded them such as Live8 and Make Poverty History, I guess it was hard not to begin thinking about the many issues that effect us today. I’m thinking poverty, the environment, commercialisation and (global) politics…
However rather than just think about these issues, I wanted to act on them, and also talk about them amongst friends, and finally on this very blog.
Over the course of the year, I have slowly but surely tried to change certain aspects of my lifestyle and think about my actions. No grand gestures, just little tiny steps that hopefully will all add up. Some of these changes included:
- Recycling paper that I throw away at home,
- Using and re-using tin foil to wrap the sandwiches I take to work,
- Making sure I turn my computer at work off every night,
- Trying to use less water (turning taps off).
Thinking about others
- Raise money for Cancer Research again at this years Great North Run,
- Respond to disaster appeals,
- Additions to my monthly charitable donations.
Politics and Economics
- Thanks to my brother, starting to think more about what I am buying—or more correctly what I am being sold.
- Watching programs such as ‘Super Size Me’, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’, ‘30 Days’ and other thought provoking documentaries on television
It still doesn’t feel like enough, it isn’t, but it is a start. Having started to make these changes to my lifestyle, I think it is time to do the same around the home and at work and getting others involved.
Whilst a small chat about the subject with Melvin at work the other day sounded promising (I’m hoping paper recycling and energy saving are two projects I can push forward in 2006—perhaps even looking at how Orange Vision can become carbon neutral), at home it seems to be more difficult. Whilst my Dad is adverse to change, my Mum seems not able to get over the logistics such as the placement of the different bins and composting of food waste.
An Alternative Christmas
In light of this I have come up with an idea for how I wish to celebrate this Christmas—a way of getting the ball rolling for next year. Seeing as this once religious holiday has been hijacked and commercialised for the good of profit margins, I see no reason why I can’t also hijack it for the good of the planet.
My big aim is to use this as a chance to educate and inform people of how we can all help make the world a better place whilst also raising awareness of what is happening around us.
Top of the list is recycled Christmas cards. I am again planning on designing my own cards, so this will probably mean me using materials that would otherwise be unused. The results may be interesting. As to gifts, I have a few ideas:
- A donation to a charity of the recipients choice or perhaps a gift brought from a charity catalogue.
- Books or videos covering issues ranging from recycling, ethics, poverty, political systems; anything that may help people start to think about the world around them. These need not be dull either—‘The Corporation’ on DVD, and ‘America (The Book)’, are two examples that are along the lines I’m thinking off.
- For smaller gifts I could give some more practical items such as energy saving light-bulbs or those blue bags you put in toilets to reduce water consumption.
Think of it like this: instead of buying things for people they don’t need, it will be more a case of buying things they should already have!
I’m still open to suggestions though, if you have any other ideas you feel relate to the same cause then please comment below. Perhaps you wish to do the same this Christmas—feel free to join in!
The same goes for all the points I’ve raised here, as I think talking about these issues is just as important as taking the necessary steps required to start living responsibly and respecting our planet and all those that inhabit it too.