We’ve got the power
What a week in politics.
And they are still not talking about climate change, inequality and poverty, the things that will make or unmake stability. We didn’t hear enough about the Iranian women standing up against the hijab or how intergenerational inequality mean our children may never be able to afford their own homes, whether owned or rented and;
‘..children born in 2020 will experience a two- to sevenfold increase in extreme events, particularly heat waves, compared with people born in 1960, under current climate policy pledges.’
I think at times like this when there is so much uncertainty it is really important to feel like we have agency.
I believe we can reclaim our power, agency and hope in baby steps whilst admitting our imperfections, our contradictions, our limitations, our selfishness and our hypocrisies. We have to own these because I think one of the biggest paralysing forces that stops us making changes, is a feeling that if we can’t do everything perfectly then there is no point doing anything. It is just that kind of paralysis which we need to challenge.
Since I first wrote that blog in 2020 where I could feel that something was shifting for me, I have made small changes. Even if they haven’t changed the world, they have changed how I feel about myself within it. Below I list the things I have done to change, but before that, I’ll tell you about my imperfections:
- I still drive a diesel car
- I have flown
- I still heat my home partly with oil
- I eat dairy
So there’s some of my cognitive dissonance, my hypocrisy right there and if I just focused on those things I wouldn’t do any of the other things I am also doing because they would paralyse me.
Instead I do small things differently:
- I buy two pints of milk a week from my local regenerative Organic Farm
- I buy vegetables locally
- I very rarely eat meat
- I have changed my washing and dishwasher tablets to a company which uses no plastic packaging and is is climate friendly
- I have changed my energy provider to Octopus who use 100% renewable sources
- I have opened a bank account with Triodos who support ethical investments
- I buy sustainable bamboo toilet roll
- I use soap, shampoo and conditioning bars rather than plastic bottles.
- My skincare products are organic and packaged in recycled plastic or recyclable glass
- I have insulated the garage the cellar using sheep wool which better for human and planetary health and has warmed up the living room no end
- I have harvested wood from my garden to use on the fires, only coppicing the trees so they continue to grow more healthily.
- An old Belfast sink became a pond this year for frogs
- I grow my own herbs and dry them for cooking and teas
- I have had a woodpile for a few years so that hedgehogs and bugs can find their home
- Since the pandemic half of my garden have been in Ark where I don’t cut the grass so I have frogs and slow worms, butterflies and birds and sometimes a visiting rabbit.
- Needless to say I have never used weed killer on this garden.
- I make my own compost and biochar.
- I have planted honeysuckle for the bees as well as more lavender and have a variety of bushes with berries for the birds through the winter.
- I have fire cemented the solid fuel stoves to make them more efficient and clad them in fire bricks to increase their thermal mass to keep the rooms warmer for longer with the same amount of fuel
- We are using blankets instead of heating more often
- I talk about climate more often and find the more I do, the more people I find who are also concerned and making changes which makes me feel hopeful
- Most of the clothes I buy are second-hand as are my books unless I’m buying them from the local independent bookshop to support them and writers
- I have changed my work so I am involved in organisations whose values and ethics align with mine and which allow me flexibility with my time
- I have installed solar panels so that even in these autumn days, at least half of the energy that I use is produced from my own roof.
My next steps are:
- To insulate the roof, adding another layer of sheep wool over the horrible fibreglass insulation to double the snuggle
- My aim is to coppice trees on an annual basis in rotation so that I always have some drying for future years and so that the trees are healthier and the birds are never without a perch
- Next year I want to be able to produce my own fruit. This year the blackberry harvest has been abundant and I have swapped cooking apples for my neighbours eating apples. My rhubarb will be ready to eat next year, as hopefully will my currents and raspberries. The damsons were magnificent through September and a coppice of overshadowing trees should give the plumb trees more light and a harvest next year.
I am busy working and am still parenting so I have just made one small change at a time. They have brought me so much pleasure, bringing me into the garden, my local community and most importantly, giving me a sense of optimism and agency. More of the time I feel like I am living in line with my values and what matters to me. I didn’t know how to do so much of, this but I have read and listened to podcasts and asked people. I have a wonderful woodsman who has taught me so much and the Centre for Alternative Technology have been so generous with their advice and information. I am still learning.
People all over the world are standing up and making a difference. A friend is hosting a refugee family, another raises money for charities, another is researching circular businesses.
In Frome they have an object library where you can borrow a lawnmower or hedge trimmer rather than needing to buy one you then only use a few times a year. Frome is also home of Flatpack politics where local politics is not party political but instead based on getting problems solved in ethical ways (radical!). In Australia the independent Teal candidates (professional, older women) upended two party politics and put climate on the agenda in a country which previously had a climate denying president. Patagonia the outdoor clothing company donate 1% of all profit to climate causes, they campaign, educate and donate as well as recycling their clothes and even encouraging people not to buy unless they really need to.
Change is afoot it’s just that it isn’t making mainstream news.
Taking positive actions in our own lives, no matter how small, is not only good for the issues we care about, but good for us and our mental health. So next time you reach for the news app when you have already heard the headlines, stop, and turn a different way to learn one small thing that would make a positive difference to you and the world.
If you enjoyed reading this please share it with friends. You might also be interested in talking to me about coaching , or maybe try some of my online courses (some are free), or treat yourself to a climate protecting pamper with vegan friendly, organic Tropic which supports the planting of forests and education in deprived areas.
Thanks for being here.