This used to be a polite conversation point whereas today it is a major headline. What has happened?
This summer we have seen drought, bushfires, floods, dust storms and temperatures reaching scorching highs followed by wintery lows. Crazy stuff!
We have always had these conditions but they were fewer and much further apart than what we experience today. What is happening?
While there is much debate about climate change there is no doubt the way we treat our environment has certainly changed. And we are now seeing the results in our changeable weather patterns.
So can one person make a difference or are we relying on our government policies to make the changes we need? What can one person do to help change this situation? Quite a lot! I have listed some areas below that each and every one of you can think about to help bring about change.
1. Conscious spending: Think about where and how you spend your dollar. Knowing the companies your dollar is going towards to increase their profit should help you decide. You can also decide which companies are more environmentally friendly or do not use child labour etc.
Listed below is a link to the shop ethical website where you can look up the grades of some of your most popular companies.
2. Spend less at the supermarket and shop locally: Supporting your local community helps small businesses, which can help with local employment and the survival of local communities.
Shop here for wonderful organic products delivered to metropolitan melbourne: Located in Mt Evelyn,
3. Food: Food is Medicine, I posted about this just recently. The quality of your food, where and how it is made should be of utmost importance to you. Know what you are consuming!
Do you know what company is behind your product? How long has it taken for your product to reach you and have you considered the food miles? (That is the energy and fuel used to get your product to you). Have you considered the ingredients? Do they have GMO ingredients? Have they been produced using organic materials or are they full of pesticides? How much packaging is used?
I have listed a link below where you can look up your food products and it gives you information about where the company is situated and what their rating is. It also lists some of the good and bad issues that they may experience.
If you are curious about organics versus non organics then you can read my previous blog on why organics are better for you and the environment.
If you are really interested in the food supply and how it affects everything then have a read of “One Bite at a Time– Reduce the toxic exposure & eat the world you want” by Sarah Lantz & Tabitha McIntosh it is packed with vital information.
5. Clothing: The clothing industry is one of the worst offenders when it comes to the carbon footprint, water and energy usage. There is so much waste that goes into making a material ready for production. Then you need to consider issues such as labour exploitation and child labour for the making of products.
This is where Fairtrade (both clothing and food) products are wonderful. “Choosing Fair-trade gives small-scale farmers the power to improve their livelihoods. Fair-trade labelling is based on a set of international standards guaranteeing producers in developing countries a fair and stable price, regardless of global market fluctuations”.(Shop Ethical)
Try organising a clothing swap with some of your family and friends, buy secondhand or repurpose if you are clever with a sewing machine. Bamboo, organic cotton and hemp are alternative fibres so look for clothing with these products.
The ‘carbon footprint’ of that fancy T-shirt you are wearing is estimated to be around 6kg – i.e. around 20 times its own weight! “– Shop Ethical
Below are links to ethical clothing issues and Fairtrade products.
6. Personal products: Issues around personal care products include toxicity, nanotechnology, micro plastics and animal testing. While there are safety standards for the cosmetic industry, some chemicals used here in Australia are banned in Europe. The highest rating in the fragrance section is a D with most of the companies receiving an F (which is the lowest rating).
Many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, hence they mess with your hormones and can create a truck load of issues. These issues can include menstruation, fertility, skin, gut and mood disorders.
The link below will take you to view the products you use:
7. Cleaning products: This was one of the first areas I changed in my own home, due to skin sensitivities. This one is also very easy as there are some good products even sold at the supermarket. Ecostore is an environmentally safe company that started in New Zealand. But there are also so great Australian products and I have used Abode, Australian Natural Care Lemon Myrtle, enviroclean, Kin Kin, and OurEco just to name a few.
Again toxins and chemicals are the issue here and when you top these with your personal care products you are exposed to a lot of chemicals on a daily basis. We can never be totally free of these endocrine disruptors but you can minimise the risk.
Check out www.biome.com.au for more inspiration.
Follow the link below to assess your current products:
8. Rubbish – We already have our recycle bins with most local councils, but there is uncertainty whether it is all going into landfill anyway! We are certainly not using our recyclables in ways that other countries are. Is this because we have so much?? Reduce your packing to help reduce your waste. Start a compost bin and if you have the ability to burn, then burn off what you can. Make it a goal to decrease the amount of rubbish you are putting on the road side curb each week.
9. Garden – The great Australian dream was to own your home and have a big garden. This is not the case anymore. A big garden is a bit of luxury these days. But you can still utilise a small garden. Planting bee attracting flowers to help supply the nutrients needed for a global food supply. Use your garden to produce your own fruit and vegetables which is most satisfying and a great way for kids to learn. Plus it can save you money on your shopping and reduce the food miles.
Pesticides – This one is a big issue and I am an organic supporter here. There are no chemicals allowed in my backyard and that is how it will stay. My plum tree just produced its most juicy and sizable plums ever. Bugs are only attended to if needed and only organic fertiliser is used.
There are many DIY options for making products to control pests. I use my trusty Backyard Bounty book, produced by Organic Gardener at ABC. This lists products such as coffee grinds, milk spray, garlic, bicarbonate of soda, oil, molasses, she-oak spray, soap and wormwood as products to help control pests and are not harmful to the environment.
As you can see this there are many areas that you are able to do your bit and help the climate. If more and more people start to make these better decisions on where they spend their dollar, we can effect change. Remember a company relies on sales for profit – no sales no profit, no business.
Each individual can make a difference.
In reviewing these issues today I have become aware that I have been missing on some vital information. So I have downloaded the Shop Ethical app, so I will always able to check the ethics while I am out shopping. You can also purchase their pocket guide to assist you with the knowledge need to make good environmental decisions.
Become part of the solution not part of the problem!!
This article was written by Jan Caton, BHSc – Naturopathy. Jan is the owner, naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist at Magnolia Apothecary. Jan practices in the Yarra Ranges and Boronia.