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Earth. When we’re alone in our darkest hours it always pulls through. It feeds us, keeps us warm, gives us shelter, keeps us breathing, and provides our minds with endless wonder. It is without question, our oldest and best mate and it’s in serious trouble. Sadly this time not even Clark Kent can save it. So it’s up to us! The little people, to do everything we can to help it out.
I spoke to some students about whether they felt they should be doing more to lend a hand towards the planet’s current situation. The general consensus appeared to be that most people did feel, to differing degrees, compelled to do something about climate change. However, they felt a little helpless and saw climate change as too big an issue for their day to day actions to have any impact. Hopefully, I can alter this by sharing with you simple ways to not be a dick to the earth, which will make a difference. Every change must begin somewhere no matter how small that beginning might be, and as the inheritors of Earth’s resources I say we give it a good go.
Clean up your transport
This is kind of a biggy; transport is the second biggest cause of greenhouse gasses in New Zealand. So driving the three hundred metres from your flat to the Four Square in your cheap crappy car would be reasonably high on the dick-o-meter. Fortunately, Wellington is a seriously condensed city and most students live in close vicinity to the university. Clean transport is easy and doesn’t have to disrupt the efficiency of your daily life. Walk! Hop on your bike! Although an electric bike is initially a bit of a financial setback, they are perfect for tackling those gnarly hills and a smart long-term investment. Otherwise, your standard bike will suffice. Adding things like mud guards, and hanger bags to avoid the oversized awkward backpack look will make your ride that little bit sweeter so you can truly enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re a half decent person, while experiencing the liberating feeling of the wind in your hair. Combine train and bike for longer distances. If the on foot / bike life is not for you, lap up that public transport. If you must use a gas-guzzler at least try car-pooling. Aside from the fact that you are doing the earth a solid, smart transport options are good for the body, soul, and the pocket.
Go veg! Or go partly veg!
Thirty percent of Earth’s, and over a third of New Zealand’s, landmass is used for grazing livestock—and I can tell you Earth does not view them as favoured tenants. Animal based agriculture takes out the number one spot for New Zealand’s biggest producer of greenhouse gasses. I’m not asking you to cut meat completely, or to travel down the dark complex path of veganism, but only having meat once or twice a week is a good start and once again easy it’s on the pocket.
Cut the crap!
The out of the ark, unoriginal placing of rubbish in a large hole till it rots trick is terrible for the earth. It produces a potent greenhouse gas called methane, and it creates leachates and emissions which pollute waterways. Every single year we dump an estimate of 3.2 million tonnes of crap into our landfills, an estimated one third of which could have been recycled. Recycling is awesome because it not only cuts down the crap in the hole, but it also cuts out a whole lot of emissions and energy used to create new materials. So keep up the recycling! And since the current council thinks we are too simple to get it right, let’s show them that the tax payers money is not being put to waste on our tertiary education by putting the glass in the glass bins, and clean plastic, cardboard, and tins in the green bins. Use reusable bags and coffee cups—which are stocked in many local cafes and can be purchased from idealcup.co.nz.
Feed the dirt!
Another way to empty the landfills is composting! After all the grazing, general destruction, and chemical pollution, the earth is in dire need of a nutrients top up and composting is a great way to do this. To some, however, this is not as simple it seems. One student I spoke to, whom wishes to go unnamed, claims they may have accidently single-handedly destroyed the Aro Valley community garden compost by including meat in their compost for an entire year. Not to worry though it’s the thought that counts; and we can get it back on track by only including fruit and vegetables, tea bags, egg shells, and coffee grinds. After all, the dirt supports the growth of vegetation and vegetation cleans the air of greenhouse gases by chewing up carbon dioxide.
Shop for the earth!
Buying locally grown food is a win win situation for everyone. It takes less energy and transport to produce, is fresher and therefore more nutritious and delicious, and it supports the local economy. So your hung-over wander round the Sunday morning fruit and veg market is well worth it. There is also a very cool app called Conscious Consumers which locates environmentally friendly businesses in your area, and awards them badges for things like recycling, buying local, and using eco containers. Our very own Vic Books and Milk and Money both boast an impressive five badges each.
This is pretty simple and I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Buying energy efficient light bulbs; switching that washing machine to a cold wash; and like the great T-Pain once said “turn all the lights off.” Although New Zealand is lucky in that not much of our power comes from emission producing generators, reducing your use of electricity will keep this proportion even lower.
Heaps of students I spoke to were keen to do this, and there was a huge interest in volunteering for organisations that are campaigning for the environment, but what does this actually involve? And how you go about it? Well, you can sign up online to the Green Party or become part of the Young Greens at Vic. You can then receive information about volunteer activities and events on their websites. Wellingtons’ Green’s branch is currently running a specific campaign around climate friendly cities, with a real focus on transport, and they are planning to undertake door knocking and phone calling to build support. If that’s not for you, the Greens also need people for data entry and event promotion on social media. Kaibosh, a Wellington based organization that redistributes leftover food from local business to community groups like the Woman’s refuge, is also calling for volunteers. Signing up online with youth driven NGO’s like Generation Zero is also a great start.
For those of you who are still siding with ol’ Donald some hard-cold scientific information should sort you out. climatechangetracker.org is a goodie for keeping you updated on both New Zealand’s and the global climate change situation. We need to get informed and inform others of the real dangers of climate change. Bring up conversations about climate change in different settings. When I spoke to Green party MP Julie-Ann Genter, she made a really good point about the importance of not being judgmental when communicating to others about climate change. People shut down when they feel criticized or judged, so keep the conversations positive.
Show your support!
We need to vote for candidates and support campaigns that support low emissions in New Zealand. There are always public campaigns to support. Generation Zero are currently collecting signatures on their website for a campaign to stop WCC from replacing our electric trolley buses with diesel ones. Or you could get behind the protests against increasing the extraction of fossil fuels in New Zealand.
There are a huge variety of things we can do to not be a dick to the earth. Things that not only help out the earth but are also helpful for your finances and balmy for the soul. Although, compared to the effects of things like oil extraction and the agricultural industry, the decisions you make in your day-to-day life may seem insignificant, every little bit does count. Humans are imitators: by showing others that living a green lifestyle can be both practical and fun we can inspire them to do the same. So never think too little is not enough and keep it positive. Let’s start the green revolution!