Taking Responsibility

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I stumbled upon this article online today.  It is about a study showing the correlation between age, gender, race and political ideology to belief in the reality of climate change and the impact caused by humans.  The content did not surprise me greatly, however, I was bitterly disappointed by the following couple of paragraphs towards the end of the article.

“But accepting climate change did not necessarily make you greener, at least in your home life, the study also found.

While those who accept human’s role in climate changes were more likely to take more public action, such as signing petitions or joining demonstrations, that was not necessarily replicated in private action, such as cutting energy use at home and using public transport over the car.”

I find this very sad indeed and downright depressing.  It is yet another example of the overwhelming apathy which so many people display.  Everybody wants ‘something to be done’ but expect that it is the responsibility of someone else, usually the government, the mythical ‘they’ or in the case of climate change, the global community or, at the very least, another country.

Australia may be a small player in the global sandpit in terms of population but we create far more than our share of mess when it comes to environmental vandalism.  Yet, our governments consistently drag the chain when it comes to making real changes that will tackle climate change and benefit the planet.  Sadly, government policy by all parties seems to be limited to the interval between the present time and the next election.  This is not limited to addressing climate change but policy in general.

In the absence of clear government action, the driver of change must come from each and every one of us.  Remember the saying, “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”.  We can and should all play our part in changing everyday habits.  Addressing the problem of climate change is not just about legislation, coal mines and power stations.  It is about each one of us doing our bit.

Can’t afford solar panels?  Live too far from public transport?  Organic food is too expensive?  This does not mean that you cannot make a significant contribution by reducing your carbon footprint.  In fact, many of the actions you can take to save money will also save the planet.

Buy second-hand – clothes, furniture, tools, toys
Do not waste anything – use up leftover food, finish the last shampoo in the bottle
Consider re-usable alternatives – cloth serviettes instead of paper, lidded containers instead of plastic wrap, refillable drink bottles instead of bottled water

These are just a few examples.

What have you done to reduce your carbon footprint?

Mend & Make Do

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It is a sad indictment on our current Western society that we have to be reminded to consume less with the catch-cry of “Reduce, Re-use and Recycle”.

2011-12-08 01One of the most important ways to consume less is simply to repair what you already have.  For some things this requires a degree of lateral thinking and sometimes it is nearly impossible, but we should try wherever we can.  When buying a new item it is important to give consideration to whether or not it is likely to be able to be repaired or is it designed to be thrown away as soon as part of it fails.

Repair would have been the first (and probably only) option available to our forebears 50 – 100 years ago.  If something no longer functioned you fixed it with whatever was to hand as they did not have the option of tossing it aside and getting a new one.  This was due to a variety of factors, including isolation, availability of replacements as well as cost.

Most of us have lost many of the skills needed to maintain and repair household items.  This has mainly been due to the accessibility of relatively inexpensive replacements as often as we wish.

2011-12-08 02This week I took one of The Duke’s belts to the bootmaker to have the rivets replaced.  This is a quality leather belt that will last many more years so it made good sense to have it repaired rather than throwing it out (to landfill) and buying another.  A new belt would probably be made overseas by someone who is not even paid a living wage.  You also need to consider the environmental cost of transportation to Australia, the raw material and the resources used in creating the item.  Instead, I have supported a local business, used 2 rivets and created no packaging by carrying it to and from the repairer in a re-usable bag.  It cost $5 to repair and now has many years of wear left in it.

Although I had to outsource the mending of the belt, there are plenty of things we can repair at home.  I have mended 3 pairs of socks this morning instead of throwing them in the bin.  I hesitate to call it darning as that would significantly devalue the handiwork of generations of women before me.  At least my efforts close the offending hole and extend the life of the socks.

2011-12-08 03What do you repair ?