Aggressive Veganism?

How much is too much? The aggressive approach taken by many vegans and animal rights (AR) activists is a subject of debate for a while now within the movement. When I say aggressive I mean the level of intensity that some employ for their methods of spreading the vegan or AR message, from sharing graphic images, swearing profusely or actively criticising others. This doesn’t only mean being harsh it could also include focusing your efforts into a more relentless and forceful style of interacting with others. With this in mind I’d like to find out how many people take each side of the argument through a simple poll (below) to find out more about how our movement works. First I guess I should outline some of the basic ins and outs of each approach (which will of course not be exhaustive, just very basic ideas):

Aggressive Approach:

Pros:

  • It’s very easy to channel your passion and frustration into a more forceful way of dealing with others and most other vegans will identify with the things you are saying.
  • Properly calling someone out for their ignorance or stupidity in an argument can seriously limit their credibility to an audience.
  • A constant looming presence could influence people to make a change (this could be for guilt reasons etc.)
  • Animal lives are on the line so anything short of aggressiveness is not doing the issue justice.

Cons:

  • Many people may consider it off-putting, even other vegans and activists, which could damage the vegan image.
  • You can risk alienating people or shutting off a potential audience (such as the issue of swearing around children).

Laid-back Approach:

Pros:

  • Fostering a community that is understanding and encouraging is helpful for existing vegans and prospective vegan alike.
  • An easy going attitude is approachable and won’t put off/scare away potentially interested people.
  • Lots of positive content could encourage people to try veganism or influence them to make a change.
  • Trying to engage in discussions instead of arguments can encourage people to be open minded instead of assuming a defensive position.

Cons:

  • It can be hard to remain calm and level headed when witnessing the horrors and injustices inflicted upon other animals, and when met with ignorance or mockery it can be disheartening.
  • Some may say you aren’t doing enough or aren’t passionate enough about the cause.

So now you’ve seen a few basic pros and cons from each approach, and you’ve most likely encountered both sides at some point so have a sense of how they work. Now I’d like you to choose which you think is the best approach and vote in the poll below (anonymously) so we can see which is the most prominent side. Please try and get as many people as you can to take part in this poll so the results will be more accurate (share it on Facebook or Twitter or whatever).

*I haven’t added a middle ground “bit of both” option because it would skew the results, it may be a difficult decision but for the purpose of this study only the two options are available.*

What is the Best Approach, Aggressive or Laid-back?

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Thanks for voting, don’t forget to share this poll, we need as many people as possible to vote to make the results accurate! You can also follow me on Twitter or like my page on Facebook for more content.

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9 Documentaries That Could Turn Anyone Vegan

Recently there have been more and more films and documentaries that focus on the environment, animal rights and veganism. This is fantastic because documentaries and films have such strong impressions on people that they can really drive change, so make sure you share them with friends and family for maximum impact.

This post will list some of the most effective and popular films and documentaries so you don’t end up scrolling through Netflix for hours on end unable to decide what to watch. I will try to add both the popular films for people who are completely new to these ideas, and some more obscure but interesting pieces for existing environmentalists that are looking for more. As usual I won’t list them in any particular order:

Image credit goes to Cowspiracy.com

One of the most well known documentaries about the effects of animal agriculture on the environment, this film, directed and produced by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, is charged with facts and logic that people have a very hard time arguing against. Leonardo DiCaprio became executive producer for a new cut version released to Netflix in 2015, and since its creation it has become something of a symbol for vegans around the world.

The good thing about this documentary is the way in which it lays out all the facts in an easy to understand and thought provoking way (even though the figures are astounding). It focuses on the environmental impact of animal agriculture, but doesn’t ignore the ethical and health factors, and doesn’t rely on shocking or horrific imagery so it can be watched by anyone.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit cowspiracy.com for more information.

Image credit goes to peaceablekingdomfilm.org

This is an award winning documentary that tells the story of several traditional farmers who re-examine their relationships with animals. In doing so, their consciences show them that the only way to live is by going vegan. After realising their mistakes they set up sanctuaries for farm animals, it’s a truly touching story.

There is a newer version title, Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home  created by the same producer (James LaVeck) and director (Jenny Stein) in 2009 with a different star cast.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit peaceablekingdomfilm.org for more information.

Image credit goes to letlivefilm.com

A wonderful documentary directed by Marc Pierschel that explores the ethical, environmental and health reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle. Six different individuals are interviewed about their vow to remain vegan for life including a vegan chef who used to be a butcher, and a farm sanctuary owner who used to be a factory farmer.

‘Live and Let Live’ shows how veganism has evolved from its origins in 1944 London to one of the fastest growing movements worldwide, with increasing numbers of people realising what’s on their plates matters to animals, the environment and ultimately themselves.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit letlivefilm.com for more information.

Image credit goes to forksoverknives.com

‘Forks Over Knives’ is a documentary that focuses on the health aspect of modern diets; the damage caused by animal products and the benefits of plant-based diets. Solid correlations are made between animal products and degenerative diseases that are so problematic (especially in the west) today, all of which is presented and backed by strong scientific and medical evidence.

The major story line in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. The filmmakers also document several real patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and reveal how plant based diets help them to recover.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit forksoverknives.com for more information.

 

Image credit goes to getvegucated.com

A socio-comical documentary, ‘Vegucated’ follows three meat and cheese loving New Yorkers who agree to go vegan for six weeks. This journey starts as a method of weight loss, but they soon start to uncover the dark truth of animal agriculture, and turns them against the industry they had so recently patronised.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit getvegucated.com for more information.

Image credit goes to mayibefrankmovie.com

‘May I Be Frank’ is a documentary about the moving story of an unhealthy and overweight, middle-aged, Italian-American man who discovers that a plant-based diet can help him feel and look better after he visits the vegan restaurant ‘Café Gratitude’ in Berkeley, California. The Café Gratitude employees suggest an experiment, which he accepts and undergoes a life-changing transformation that you don’t want to miss.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit mayibefrankmovie.com for more information.

Image credit goes to nationearth.com

‘Earthlings’ is one of the most talked about documentaries around, and for good reason. Directed by Shaun Monson, music by Moby and (the English version) narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix, this film pulls no punches, and has been responsible for an awful lot of change. Not for the faint hearted, earthlings reveals the truth about the horrific way we treat animals without omitting the actual evidence, so many people have a hard time watching it (although if you can’t watch it, then you need to reconsider your consumption of animal products!).

The documentary is split into five parts that deal with different aspects of animal exploitation: pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. The use of hidden cameras reveals the true horrors that occur on a daily basis and provide a very real, and very disturbing picture of the way humans treat fellow earthlings.

The sequel to ‘Earthlings’ is called ‘Unity’ and was released in 2015, but also look out for the third part ‘Beings’ which will arrive in 2020.

Here is the trailer (WARNING This trailer contains disturbing material):

Don’t forget to visit nationearth.com for more information

Image credit goes to theghostsinourmachine.com

Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur challenges our view of animals as food and clothing as well as animal-tested goods and animal entertainment in this award winning documentary. Throughout the film Jo-Anne photographs animals on fur farms and at Farm Sanctuary, among other places, and seeks to publish her work. One of the core messages of this film is to re-evaluate how we look at animals; to start looking at animals as individuals instead of objects. The film as a whole is a plea for animal rights.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit theghostsinourmachine.com for more information.

Image credit goes to speciesismthemovie.com

Director Mark Devries sets out to investigate the world of of factory farms and reveal their secrets, as well as exploring the idea of speciesism, which is essentially the way humans assume superiority over other animals. Sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, this documentary sets out to make you rethink the way in which we treat animals and why we feel so high and mighty in an attempt to dispel the illusion of human superiority and look at animals in a new light.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit speciesismthemovie.com for more information.

Thank you for reading this list, I hope you found something new to watch and share! With that in mind please remember that sharing these documentaries is just as important as watching them, it is essential that the information and ideas they express is distributed so that people will start seeing the truth. Animal lives, the environment and even your personal health are affected by the exploitation of animals, but people simply do not know enough to change. Going vegan is the only way we can ensure our planet avoids destruction, the only way to avoid unimaginable suffering on an unprecedented scale and the only way we can progress as an ethical, intelligent species.

Please like and share this list to help your friends and followers discover new documentaries, and consider following me on Twitter and Google+, and liking my page on Facebook, thank you.

Image Credit:
Cowspiracy – Visit cowspiracy.com for more
Peaceable Kingdom – Visit peaceablekingdomfilm.org for more
Live and Let Live (featured image) – Visit letlivefilm.com for more
Forks Over Knives – Visit forksoverknives.com for more
Vegucated – Visit getvegucated.com for more
May I Be Frank – Visit mayibefrankmovie.com for more
Earthlings – Visit nationearth.com for more
The Ghosts in Our Machine – Visit theghostsinourmachine.com for more
Speciesism: The Movie – Visit speciesismthemovie.com for more

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How and Why to Help Bees: Top 10 Tips

You’ve most likely heard that disaster is heading our way in the form of bee populations declining, but not everyone knows exactly why this is bad or what they can do to help. Hopefully this article will help you understand the importance of bees (and other natural pollinators) and give you some ideas on what you can do to help bees, and save the planet.

Nature’s Matchmakers

The reason bees are considered so important is because they are natural pollinators, taking pollen from the male part of the plant (anther) to the female part (stigma) and triggering the formation of the fruit, seed or nut. Some plants can pollinate themselves, but others rely on animals to help them reproduce which is why natural pollinators are so important. Bees are especially good at this job because they tend to visit the same plant species in one outing, leading to an even distribution of pollen from other plants of the same species instead of randomly spreading pollen to different plants, in other words their pollination is of higher quality.

Bees are able to pollinate so well due to certain characteristics such as stiff hairs that catch pollen and leg pockets that store it, allowing for efficient transportation from plant to plant. They are responsible for pollinating around one sixth of the planet’s flowering plant species and approximately 400 types of agricultural plant. This is an extraordinary amount, experts suggesting that bees are responsible for around one third of everything we eat!

Impending Disaster

'dying bee' by oliver.dodd is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Now we know why bees are so important for the planet, why do they need saving? There are several factors that have led to huge drops in global bee populations that are threatening the environment and our very existence. Without bees doing the work of pollinating plants, humans would have to step in to do it manually, yes that’s right manually, which simply wouldn’t be possible. Imagine how much time, money and how many people it would take to use small brushes to pollinate food plants in the US alone each year, food prices would soar as availability dropped and starvation would follow. Even Albert Einstein appears to have commented on the issue saying:

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

So what is causing bees populations to drop?

The term CCD, colony collapse disorder, is used to describe the death or disappearance of bees from a hive and has become a major concern for governments. After several studies, evidence suggests that a combination of factors are affecting bees:

  • Shrinking habitats: As more and more land is used for development, bee habitats and foraging space is obviously being destroyed. Bees rely on large areas to forage, flying up to three miles from the hive in search of food. The problem is that large areas of wild plants and trees are destroyed for humans to build, and every time the space needed by the bees is taken away.
  • Poor nutrition: Farms are becoming monocultures of commodity crops such as wheat and corn which provide very little in the way of nutrition for bees, meaning the hive cannot be sustained; bees are literally starving to death. Also in attempts to maximise honey yields (especially in the US), the entire stock of honey is removed and replaced with cheaper high fructose corn syrup for the bees to eat during the winter. Honey contains all the nutrients, including bee specific hormones and enzymes, that are needed for the bees to remain healthy and boost their immune system against the viruses and parasites that now threaten them.
  • Parasites and viruses: One of the most destructive parasites are Varroa mites which are closely associated with CCD on a large scale. They are resistant to pesticides and have been a cause for concern since the 1980s. Chemical giant Monsanto hastily introduced chemicals to combat parasites and viruses, but instead made the problems worse. They produced an insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) derived from genetically modified corn which affected the bees, breaking down the stomach walls and essentially stopping them eating. This caused bees to become extremely weak and vulnerable to viruses and parasites, however powerful lobbying from powerful chemical companies such as Monsanto has kept these chemicals in use (even today) causing the continued destruction of bee populations worldwide.
  • Insecticides, pesticides and fungicides: Carrying on from the previous point, harmful insecticides are still being used in large quantities. Designed to kill off ‘pests’ that attack crops, these chemicals also kill off other insects, including bees. Chemicals such as neonicotinoids cause acute poisoning that destroys the central nervous system of bees, affecting entire hives even when used at what are considered ‘safe levels’. Bees take contaminated nectar back to the hive causing extreme toxicity and vulnerability to viruses and parasites which then spread. As said in the previous point however, these chemicals continue to be used due to the influence of the likes of Monsanto who place profits before lives.

As you can see bees are facing terrible issues thanks to human influence, so now we need to make changes to avoid their extinction. The effort must be made from both bottom up and top down action, but this affects us all so do your bit to help bees!

Top 10 Tips to Help Bees

'Bijenhotel Grimbergen Belgium' by Geertivp is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

  1. Plant bee friendly plants: Providing bees with forage is a great way to give them a helping hand. The best way to do this is plant patches of specific flowering plants (I will provide a list of examples below) since bees like volume of forage, a sq. meter is a good estimate. Avoid horticultural plants that are double or multi-petalled, these usually have extra petals instead of anthers, and bees prefer flowers that are blue, purple or yellow. Don’t forget that many plants we consider weeds, such as clover, are actually perfect to help bees, so letting your lawn or garden live a little can be a huge help. Here are some examples of plants that bees like:
    • Achilliea millefolium (Yarrow)
    • Verbena spp. (Verbena)
    • Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
    • Salvia spp. (Sage)
    • Lavandula spp. (Lavender)
    • Helianthus spp. (Sunflower)
    • Aster spp. (Aster)
    • Borago officinalis (Borage)
    • *Remember to buy seeds or plants that aren’t treated with pesticides, and if possible it is best to get native plants.*
  2. Plant Wildflowers: Set aside an area in your garden to allow wildflowers to grow freely, making sure to grow native plants. This will provide some excellent foraging spaces for the bees without taking much effort or space (unless you make your entire garden a wildflower paradise!). Certain grasses can be be quite resilient so you may have to opt for stronger plants such as Rhinanthus minor (Yellow Rattle) which can out-compete the grass. These areas are great not only to help bees, but many other insects and animals and can be quite a beautiful addition to any garden.
  3. Don’t Kill Bees! Many people get scared at the thought of bees because they don’t want to get stung (or may even be allergic) however we must understand that bees are not out to get you. Most bees are herbivores, and will not attack unless really provoked, and in fact will avoid doing so since they will die if they sting a human. Stay calm and still if a bee is around or lands on you, they will detect both the carbon dioxide from breath (usually someone screaming or shouting) and pheromones released with fear or anger that can stress out the bee and cause them to attack. However for the most part simply trying not to get in the bees’ way as much as possible by avoiding entrances to hives or paths to plants is the best way; don’t get in their way and they will leave you alone. The insects to look out for are actually things like wasps and hornets etc. that are carnivores and are much more likely to sting you and are attracted by things like sugary drinks.
  4. Provide Habitats and Help: Many people are now familiar with the concept of ‘bug hotels’ and the like, but did you know these are great for bees too? A friend asked me recently how these could help bees “because bees live in hives”, this is true but there are many species of bees that are solitary. They usually burrow underground or into wood to lay their eggs and spend their time foraging alone, so providing a safe place for them to stay is a great way to help (and making a bug hotel can be very fun). Don’t forget that bees need water too, so put out a shallow bowl or basin of water with some stones in for the bees to crawl on and let them have a drink, they’ll thank you!
  5. Don’t Use Pesticides: As you read before chemicals can have disastrous effects on bee health, so avoid using chemicals on your garden especially when plants are flowering. Chemicals may be an easy way to make your lawn or garden look pristine (and unnatural if you ask me) but they are causing terrible damage to wildlife. Try to find organic, chemical free methods of pest control to avoid causing damage and attract lots of pollinators.
  6. Try to buy local, organic produce: Farms that supply supermarkets use huge amounts of chemical pesticides and monocultural methods to meet demands, and as we have seen these are some of the main reasons behind bee population loss. So by trying to buy produce from local farmers that you can verify whether the food is coming from a monoculture or not you can avoid personally contributing to destructive farming. This is also a great way to contribute to your local community and reduce your food miles. You can also grow your own fruit and vegetables, which is a very rewarding project! Obviously if you aren’t vegan yet, buying honey from local raw honey is the best but not consuming honey at all would be better (you won’t add to global demand or exploit bees for their food).
  7. Allow Your Vegetables to Bolt: Allow a few leafy vegetables to ‘bolt’ (go to seed) after harvest. Seeding plants are the best for bees stocking up on food before the colder parts of the year. Unlike wasps that die out, bees just slow down and wait for Spring so make sure you help them gather supplies and they’ll be much better equipped to last.
  8. Spread the Word: One of the best ways we can help is by educating others; sharing your knowledge can have a ripple effect and do so much more good. Many people are only vaguely aware of the issues at hand, so spreading the word can alert them to the problems and kick them into action. You can share with friends and family, or even take the initiative to educate your local community as long as people are made more aware you are doing a great job. Children need to be shown that compassion is the key and shown that they can help, they are the ones who will carry these thoughts on and avoid making the same mistakes.
  9. Tell Councils and Governments That Bees Need Our Help: Not all the effort has to come from us at a household level, in fact top down pressure from councils and governments is necessary to change policies and make the world a friendlier place for bees. You can write letters, sign or start petitions and campaign to help natural pollinators, because when people stop calling for change the councils and governments will ignore the problems and allocate funding elsewhere. Only by fighting hard can we ensure the future of bees and thus the environment (and ourselves!).
  10. Consider Learning to Become a Beekeeper With Sustainable Practices: You can actually take beekeeping courses, as long as they are sustainable practices, and directly look after hives yourself. You can obviously keep bees without harvesting honey, which is great for vegans, but you have to learn about splitting hives etc. Although another option is to keep Mason bees which are solitary, don’t produce honey or wax, are resistant to Varroa mites and are excellent pollinators.

So now you know a little more about bees, why they are important, what the issues are and a few ways to protect them. As I said before one of the important aspects of fighting to help bees is to share knowledge and awareness, so share this article and do your best to protect the pollinators!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the website to receive updates for new content, you can also follow the Fox Eyed Man on Twitter, Facebook, Google+Tumblr and now Instagram for further discussions.

Image credits:

Featured Image: ‘Bee-apis‘ by Maciej A. Czyzewski is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

 ‘dying bee‘ by oliver.dodd is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bijenhotel Grimbergen Belgium‘ by Geertivp is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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Meat Free Monday: A Curse in Disguise?

The idea of ‘Meat Free Monday’ has become increasingly popular recently, and many people are praising the progress being made in the name of animal welfare and environmental sustainability. If you are not familiar with the concept, people are encouraged to not consume meat products on Mondays in an effort to improve health, save money and reduce environmental impact. Many argue that this can only be positive, it is a step towards the eventual transition to a completely plant based diet that is needed to avoid environmental collapse. However, as usual it is our duty to look deeper and examine the latent implications in order to fully understand the situation. Meat Free Monday may indeed be more of a curse than a blessing.

  • Meat Free Monday encourages complacency. Instead of properly tackling the ethical, environmental and health issues that surround animal products, people may feel as though they are doing enough by just avoiding meat for one day. By championing the herculean efforts needed to not eat meat for just one day, people remain unaware that their effort is minuscule compared to the good they could be doing by going all the way. Also, it detracts from further efforts to encourage change: If people are already satisfied that they are ‘doing enough’ they are far less likely to make further efforts. The importance of the plant based movement is diminished by praising the only partial recognition of environmental issues, animal lives and personal health, so Meat Free Monday could be actively damaging the vegan message.
  • There is not enough emphasis on educationThis is always a driving point to my arguments, education is essential for almost every aspect of progress, whether it be environmental protection, animal rights or anything else. The problem with Meat Free Monday is that not nearly enough emphasis is placed on actually educating people as to why animal products are harmful. Without really knowing why they are participating the whole purpose of the activity is lost and people are left assuming ‘it’s something to do with health’ or ‘I think I’m saving the environment’. The only way to really stress the importance of the plant based movement is by making sure that people are educated about the issues that need addressing. However, armed with the knowledge about the harmful nature of animal product industries, Meat Free Mondays would seem pointless and nothing short of complete veganism would be logical.
  • Dairy and eggs are not included. By placing the importance on meat, the egg and dairy industries are ignored and reduced in importance. Physical meat becomes the symbolic representation of animal products and makes people blind to the total saturation of animal products in our everyday lives. If the activity was to avoid all animal products for one day, people would realise how damaging animal products are sneaked into a ludicrous percentage of everyday items. The dairy and egg industries are extremely damaging and unethical (read more about the culling of day old male chicks here) and it seems illogical to leave them out of the picture.

There may be more points, but these are the blaringly obvious points that come to mind immediately. I’m interested to see what your ideas are on the subject, do you support the Meat Free Monday campaign, or do you think it is actually damaging? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Don’t forget to share this page and subscribe to the website to receive updates for new content, you can also follow the Fox Eyed Man on Twitter, Facebook, Google+Tumblr and now Instagram for further discussions about environmentalism.

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Wasting Away – Reducing Your Waste Trail

Humans seem to be extremely good at producing waste, whether it be physical rubbish, water or energy, we manage to waste an extraordinary amount every year. This has become a major issue worldwide and the statistics can be extremely shocking: for example as of 2013, half of all food is wasted worldwide, according to the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME). Hopefully this guide will help you understand how important it is to reduce the amount we waste and maybe give you a couple of helpful suggestions for what you can do. Remember, one of the most important actions you can take is to educate others with such information, so don’t forget to share with others the knowledge you may pick up here. 

*Animal agriculture is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, causes of waste in the world using massive amounts of water and energy, and producing huge amounts of physical waste, so adopting a vegan diet is the most logical action to take to reduce waste, you can learn more about this here.*

Physical Waste

The amount of physical waste produced globally is over 1.3 billion tonnes every year, which is an absolutely staggering amount, and by 2025 this number is expected to have doubled. Even with the increasing focus on recycling, most waste is simply thrown into landfill where it stays for many years (plastics take hundreds of years to decompose) producing noxious gases and causing harm to everything around it.

Even waste that you think is okay because it is ‘organic’ (such as food and paper) has an adverse effect on the environment when simply thrown into landfill. This is because biodegradable material breaks down under anaerobic conditions (without oxygen) in landfill, which creates large amounts of methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas and contributor to climate change. This organic material would actually be useful if utilised properly, as it could be used as an effective growth medium (compost). This would make use of many valuable nutrients in the organic waste that would otherwise be lost.

Waste is an indicator of overproduction and inefficient use of resources, which is particularly important in a world where natural capital is becoming ever more valuable. Therefore we should be focusing on ways to reuse and recycle materials, and keep the amount of waste we produce at an absolute minimum. Governments are working to use more economical methods of waste disposal, as well as encouraging the industries that produce the most (such as construction, which is currently the largest source of waste in the UK) to take part in more schemes to become more sustainable. However, relying solely on a top down approach to environmental change is unwise, we should also be taking action at a household level and encouraging a bottom up approach.

Reducing your waste trail can be fun and challenging, but very rewarding! Most of the time it comes down to individual effort and common sense, but here are some examples of things you could be thinking about (I don’t have to mention the usual reuse bags, charity shops etc.):

  • Try and buy products that are reusable, refillable or even returnable rather than single use items
  • Buying in bulk not only saves on packaging, but also money (but be wary of items with ‘double packaging’ i.e. individually wrapped items sold in bulk)
  • Buy things like dish soap and laundry detergents in concentrate forms (My favourite cleaning products are made by ecover)
  • Opt for electronic versions your normal post (such as bills etc.), and reduce the amount of junk mail you receive
  • Buy items made of recycled materials, and try to reuse as much as you can, almost everything has a use
  • Start your own compost heap, check out this website for tips on keeping a healthy compost heap: Eden Project – How to make a compost heap: 10 top tips
Saving Water

Water is the most precious resource available to us. It may seem as though we have an abundance of water since we live on the blue planet, but did you know that only 1% of the world’s water is actually usable by humans? The rest is salt water or is frozen so can’t be used for everyday consumption. Not only is water precious to humans, but to animals and plants as well, they rely on the it to survive, so we have to make sure there is enough for us all. With this in mind, the ever growing human population is putting a greater strain on this limited resource, so we should do everything we can to reduce the amount we use. 

We are using water faster than the water cycle can replenish it; it normally spends years being filtered through underground rocks and springs before it ever reaches the surface again, so we need to give the earth time to catch up. Here’s a quick reminder of the details of the water cycle:

waste - 'Water cycle' by John M. Even / USGS via Wikimedia Commons

There are loads of easy ways to reduce the amount of water you use, ranging from simple lifestyle changes to physical devices that can help you to lower your consumption. It can be quite difficult to remember some things to begin with, but just keep trying and you’ll be a water saving pro in no time! Here are some examples of things you can do (again, simple common sense should be applied):

  • The usual taking shorter showers, not leaving taps running etc.
  • Keep a jug of water in the fridge (don’t waste water waiting for the tap to get cold)
  • Put a water displacer in your toilet cistern (or use a pint glass)
  • Be clever with appliances, for example fully loading washing machines or only putting the water you need in a kettle
  • Collect rainwater in a water butt for your garden
Conserving Energy

In a world of increasing technology and energy usage, it seems that many of us forget where our power comes from. The electricity that powers our homes is normally generated by the burning of fossil fuels in large coal or gas power stations. These stations are an extreme environmental hazard, however they supply our demands, meaning the more energy we waste, the harder these stations have to work to meet our needs.

Even though there have been huge advancements in renewable energy technology, the rising demand for power will become too much too quickly if we don’t act responsibly. By saving energy and calling for further development of renewables, we can pave the way to a clean and sustainable future. Saving energy (and water) can be a win-win situation, not only reducing waste, but saving you money on utility bills in the process. Saving energy can be as simple as turning off lights that don’t need to be on, making sure appliances aren’t on standby and (just like the saving water tip) using appliances efficiently. However, you can also conserve energy by maximising the effectiveness of your home, for example energy efficient bulbs or keeping heat inside with double glazing, draught excluders etc. Some energy providers even distribute small devices that display how much energy is being used in your home, which can be very helpful in hitting a target usage (so give them a call or visit their website to find out).

Spreading the Word

I hope you know a little more about why reducing your waste is important, and I hope you appreciate that this article was more about the whys than the hows. Educating people is one of the most important aspects of environmentalism, so spreading the knowledge should be just as important in your waste minimising mission as the physical actions you take, so thank you for reading!

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Images:

Water Cycle: ‘Water cycle‘ by John M. Even / USGS via Wikimedia Commons

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