Taking Responsibility For Your Own Actions
Taking responsibility for your own actions. This is something that seems to be alien to a lot of people nowadays.
Previous generations – our parents, grand-parents and great grand-parents -had a very different way of life. It was much simpler, and without the technology and the infrastructure we have today, people had to make do with what was available.
People didn’t always have the luxury of popping to a supermarket just because they fancied a particular meal that night. Most people had to make do, be conservative and considerate for the people around them. I remember my Nan telling me how she used to have to bike to the next village where her uncle grew vegetables to go and collect some for her mum to cook for dinner that night. Meat was a treat, maybe once a week if that. It seems like a totally different world to what we’re used to now, right?!
People lived in smaller communities, and helped each other when they could. Growing their own food was a way of life; and when they had to buy food it was mainly locally sourced produce. Not much came from abroad, so there was less environmental impact. We could learn a lot from this – only eat what is in season, sourced from a smaller area to where we live. This would drastically reduce fuel consumption, and also the amount of plastic it’s packed in, not to mention reducing pollution to the atmosphere.
Because there wasn’t the amount of people in the world or transportation of products that there is nowadays, people didn’t have to think about the damage done to the planet, but as we rely more and more on goods being imported from the other side of the planet, and the population grows, we need to take responsibility to reverse this damage. We should consider firstly - do we really need this product? If we do, can we buy it locally? If not, can we buy a UK manufactured version?
We have a choice, and should choose wisely. Yes, it may cost a little more, but it costs the planet less, and unless we take responsibility and protect the planet, we will suffer far more than having paid a few pennies more today.
If more people in the world now adopted this approach, for example grew more of their own food and communicated with friends and neighbours like other generations did then we would live in a different world. If we asked our neighbours – I’m going shopping, is there anything you need? Or borrowed items rather than automatically going to Amazon and buying new then this would significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
I also wonder how different the world would be if people had more faith in their abilities to learn – I remember my grandma taking evening classes at a local college to learn new skills when she was only 14! She used to make all my Mums clothes, and my Grandad built their house - in that time there wasn’t the option to outsource these jobs so they had to take responsibility themselves to make things happen.
This was obviously a very long time ago, and it may not be easy or even logical to completely revert back to our old ways, but after much deliberation on this I can definitely see the benefits in reinstating some of the old-style values, especially when it comes to protecting the planet.
The damage that has been done to the planet consists of many different factors; when you think about everything as a whole it can seem very overwhelming, like there is no end in sight, and impossible to see a way of putting it right. But we don’t need to wait for laws to be put in place or told we have to act differently to start changing our ways, we can do this now and take responsibility for our own actions.
After researching this recently, I have realised that yes there is a lot to be addressed. Some things are easier said than done; for example, lowering the use of fossil fuels.
During the first lockdown at the start of the pandemic, the demand for oil fell dramatically because billions of people were staying at home. Therefore, oil markets have been in turmoil and producers around the world are suffering. You might think “well surely the state of the planet is much more important than any financial gain”, which may be true but the knock-on effect that just stopping using oil would have could potentially be huge: unemployment would soar and the economy would suffer major damage.
Trying to solve one problem can sometimes create another, so there is no easy answer when you look at it as a whole but, like with anything, by breaking it down into manageable chunks it doesn’t seem quite so daunting. If we think here about how back in the day everybody used to have their own job or responsibility and how well this used to work, people were calmer and were able to come together to get through the hard times. We could use this theory again when it comes to doing our best to save the planet.
We need to come up with simple ways in which we can all make a difference, and each take responsibility for our own actions when it comes to reversing the damage done to the planet.
Rather than looking at it as a whole, if everyone just made one small change to their lives, for example reduced their intake of meat and dairy or started buying loose fruit and vegetables rather than packaged, this in itself would make a massive difference to the impact on the environment. It’s really surprising what a difference these small changes can make, and if we all just chose one thing to focus on it would seem much more manageable. Some other examples of small things we can all do are:
- Switch to paper straws (if you must have them!)
- Wash clothes at 30 degrees rather than 40
- Switch to reusable shopping bags
- Ditch the car and bike or walk to work or school
- Reduce food waste – try to use up food in the fridge
- Buy bigger bags of food such as pastas and rice to save on packaging, obviously making sure it won’t go to waste
- Switch to reusable sandwich bags
- Buy organic
- Buy second hand where possible
- Plant a tree
Remember, we shouldn’t be trying to tackle all these at once, nor should we feel guilty for not being able to change everything on the list and more all at once. Everybody is different, and will have their own way of starting, so it’s also important to remember this when hearing other people’s sustainable stories.
What one thing do you think you would find easiest to change?