Don’t be overwhelmed by environmental issues

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Just had an email from a good friend who said: “There are no end of things we have to fight against and for these days”. And it does feel overwhelming if you’ve subscribed to receive newsletters and email announcement from various social campaign groups. More and more issues are emerging because social media is connecting us.

World environmental problems overwhelm us

How easy would it be to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s problems? How easy it would be to feel we have to fight every unethical company in the world? We assume it would be near impossible for one individual to make a difference – but is the answer to sink into lethargy?

Taking ethical action

The reality is that individuals are taking ethical action. They’re not taking on the world or ALL the big corporations who act unethically, without regard to the citizens of the world. They’re taking on one issue and acting on that.

Let’s look at some of the groups I personally know about which stand for a more ethical future :

Project Jonah – Whale rescue teams training others to act quickly whenever there is a whale stranding. They also speak out about issues that are becoming apparent for these amazing sea-going mammals.

The Sum Of Us –  a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy.

Upworthy – a social media site with a focus on entertaining and enlightening. For those enrolled to receive notifications expect a steady stream of links that could shock or enlighten.  Because it’s shareable, ethical and enlightening stuff Upworthy is enabling us to  spread the word.

Greenpeace – The environmental movement that has been actively defying nations in its determination to stop environmental degradation of ecologically vulnerable areas, wildlife and peoples. Although there was no one founder (five people are given credit on the web page) the over-arching philosophy is: ‘Greenpeace exists because this fragile Earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action!’ The group has received varying reviews because of its members’ determination to be heard and its startling tactics.

Causes – This is the place to discover, support and organize campaigns, fundraisers, and petitions around the issues that impact you and your community. From fundraising for individuals who need support for life-saving operations to petitions about child-abuse or to stop GMO production, the topics are diverse but always about an ethical issue facing the world populations.

Revealing ethical or environmental stories

Each of the above groups were started by friends/acquaintances with the similar views – individuals who recognised that alone they could do little to cause change, but together they could use social media/the Internet to educate and join forces with millions.

They were activists. They had the courage to step outside of their comfort zones and be counted. They stopped fearing that they would be ridiculed for having an absurd idea. They stopped listening to the naysayers and the disbelievers. They felt the fear and did it anyway.

Safeguards against suppressing information

The Internet, in fact, was the key to getting the ‘other story’ out to the millions who had always believed the ‘official version’.  Why do you think that totalitarian states want to shutdown or censor internet access to their populations? Why do governments (even so-called democracies) try to counteract breaking stories about unethical activity by putting a new ‘spin’ on the stories?

Note: The word ‘spin doctor’ is only a recent addition to our language – it wasn’t in my Pocket Oxford of 1975 or even in my Collins Concise in 1995.

No group of worthy causes would be complete with out mention of Wikimedia which was founded in 2003 by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, as a way to fund Wikipedia and its sister projects through non-profit means. Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched Wikipedia on January 15, 2001. Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, has become one of the most visited sites for verification of information. Because of its policy that information can be edited and updated by anyone, the chances that information can be suppressed is greatly reduced.

Changing the standards you live by

Many people have felt the fear and taken a step into the unknown with an ethical idea. Here are a couple:

Snap Judgement – jointly founded by Glynn Washington – Host & Executive Producer and Mark Ristich – Executive Producer, Snap Judgement aims to bring ‘community’ back into community radio at a time when most home-grown shows are struggling to survive. According to the show’s website: before creating the Snap Judgment radio show, ‘Glynn worked as an educator, diplomat, community activist, actor, political strategist, fist-shaker, mountain-hollerer, and foot stomper’. Boy, does the World need plenty of those!

The Secret – Many of you will know about Australian Rhonda Byrne and her life-changing film The Secret. Not only did Rhonda turn her whole life around, she and her writing have brought a new positive outlook to many. Critics claim that the people she has influenced are being deluded. According to the website: Skeptoid “The “secret” turns out to be nothing more than the old motivational speaker’s standby, that positive thinking leads to positive results.” However, if millions of people are feeling happier through applying her ‘discoveries’ won’t that lift the collective energy and inspire more of us to step outside our comfort zones and help others?

Taking personal ethical action

When an email arrives in our inbox urging us to act on behalf of some cause, what happens to us:

  • We feel concerned/annoyed/uncomfortable
  • We might feel embarrassed by what our friends will think of us if we take action or pass on the information
  • We pick and choose who we’ll share it with
  • We wonder if our account is being monitored by the Secret Service and whether we’re risking promotion/economic survival if we speak out

That’s pretty much where I was a few months ago. But recently I’ve decided: “What the heck. These issues are too important to be ignored.” I’m also heartened at the number of people who ‘Like’ what I stand for and are brave enough to ‘Share’. That says to me there is a ground swell of concerned citizens of the World who are based in love and want to protect what is precious no matter what the cost.

An example of personal action

I’m going to end this post with a lovely example of two men who are taking personal action. It is a story that shows you don’t have to reach the world to take environmental action, but you can make a profound difference.

The story from China comes via another social sharing site: Bored Panda. Disabled pair plant 10,000 trees in China.

So whatever you do, whether its visit a sick neighbour, singing in church, writing a book or starting a world movement, YOU are contributing to a better world.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Rubbish can be a positive thing

Disposing of waste is a personal political act, not a task that we should hand over to others to process.

When we live, as most of the West does, in a highly developed social system where waste is removed from our door and we never have to consider it again (unless the garbage collectors go on strike), then we develop this notion that waste is someone else’s responsibility.

ITALY-RUBBISH/

Rubbish protest in Naples, June 2011 

We applaud local body organisations that find ways of recycling or minimising waste. We like that fact that local playgrounds are made surface-safe by chopped up old tyres; we like to hear that plastics are rendered into pellets for use in new products; we like to hear that glass is ground down and reused as weed suppressants in wineries.

It makes us feel good to live in a country that has that kind of commitment to waste reduction. The good guys simply take it away.

We’ve stopped viewing rubbish personally

What we forget is that our environmental choices right at the beginning created that waste. Yes – we’re the ones who made it. When councils or local bodies deal with our rubbish we stop feeling any responsibility for it. Yet there are many ways we could individually reduce what goes out to the gate on rubbish day and live a more sustainable lifestyle. It simply needs some creative thinking.

Buying in bulk and using our own re-usable containers, is one option towards a sustainable lifestyle. Buying foods in their near to raw state is another. Why have we become so fixated on consumer products that we think taking a one-use amount of coffee (in a plastic packet), placing it in a coffee maker and chucking out the dregs with the packaging, is cool? Okay, George Clooney makes compelling adverts, but what’s wrong with grinding beans?

Kids often lead the way in environmental recycling

School children in New Zealand are often challenged to create something useful out of waste materials, and some of them come up with innovative re-uses for what others would chuck away. Few adults, however, take their ideas seriously, or see them as the start of a sustainable lifestyle. It’s just too much hard work to think of creative ways to recycle.

I’m no saint in this either. I watch the one-serve cat food tins opened morning and night for our VERY fussy cat and wonder how to recycle them. The nearest I came was to make some spluttering Christmas candles filling them with recycled wax and essential oils. Not one of my successes!

One rubbish recycling  success

When we were still using milk from plastic containers, I dramatically reduced the number of bottles going out into the waste one Spring. In fact, I ended up raiding neighbours’ recycling bins for the raw material … . I thought I would share the process with you today.

Mini green houses for growing seedlings–and they reduce waste, too.

Love to hear how others have recycled in a way that others (including ME) could take up.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Weed or herb? Yarrow makes a great tea

I have noticed that I am slow at taking up the opportunities that nature offers me in natural herbs. I think about what would be a good cure for something when the herb is no longer blooming or available. Yarrow is a perfect example.

Yarrow makes a good tea for you if you have a bad cold, according to Cynthia Wickham, author of Common Plants as Natural Remedies. Her directions are: “Take 30g dried herb to 600ml of boiling water, drunk warm in wineglassful doses”.

YARROWTeaIngredients72dpi

Luckily I do not have a severe cold, but I decided to try Yarrow herbal tea to see what it tastes like.

First, I’m pretty naff at translating measurements so I got the proportions wrong, and I was working with fresh Yarrow, so you’ll need to take my recipe and adjust it to suit.

  • 15g fresh Yarrow flower heads
  • 500 mls boiling water

YarrowTea72dpiInfuse in a teapot for 5 minutes and strain into a cup. The flavour is not strong, but very pleasant. It is slightly coloured.

Now if you are using dried flowers you would probably only need a teaspoon or so to get the same effect because the dried flowers condense down into a smaller amount.

Here’s what the tea looked like in the mug. And as I said, it did taste rather pleasant and I’m still here several hours later.

 

 

Gathering and drying

Right now in roadsides and fields Yarrow is blooming in New Zealand. In the northern hemisphere the seasons are different, so gathering the flowers will be about six months away. What I suggest is that you add a reminder to check for Yarrow about this time next year for Southern hemisphere residents and in six months for Northern hemisphere residents.

Dry the herb in a hot cupboard where your water heating cylinder is, or place on a rack over the wood burner. Don’t dry out too quickly or too near a steamy environment. Cover to keep the flowers from being contaminated by flies. Store in glass jars (preferably) but away from light. And label the contents.