Philanthropist, environmentalist, humanitarian – all words that make people nervous (just in the spelling of them) as they worry they don’t do enough or think only famous people/penniless hippies get involved in such wonderment right? Well no, absolutely wrong.
It’s mad how over the last few years I have become more aware and conscience of both myself and my environment. Having treatment for depression and anxiety makes you more mindful – not just of yourself but others and the world I live in. This isn’t going to be an article about how clean living I am full of american “you can do it’ type morale’ quite the opposite. I’m a wine drinking, meat eating woman that spends too much money on clothes and too much time in front of the tv but I have achieved BALANCE.
This year I started to think about the changes I could make easily to protect the planet and it’s species that are achievable rather than become a vegan overnight, living in the woods with no power, petitioning for changes every hour of my day until I drive myself and everyone else mad. We’re lying to ourselves sometimes if we think we can live a wonderful 100% humanitarian, environmentalist and philanthropist lifestyle so we beat ourselves up. Rather than thinking about what you don’t do, think about the easy things you can or may already do and feel good about them. Some ideas are below.
1. Don’t support poor treatment of animals at home and abroad – This is an easy one to do. As an avid traveller I hate seeing pictures on Facebook of people swimming with Dolphins in captivity, riding elephants or petting tigers. In my book, if a wild animal can be ridden or petted then that’s not natural. Don’t support these kind of places on holiday where animals are mistreated. Do you research first and visit them in conservation areas, parks or in the wild. At home make sure you’re informed! That means knowing how your cosmetics are tested and adopting pets in need rather than using suspicious breeders that are in it for the money. Also remember that we treat our stray animals well so think about adopting animals from other countries i.e. spanishstraydogs.org.uk
2. Eat clean – If you can’t go vegan, just know where your food comes from – I’m a flexitarian in that I am veggie most of the time but I do eat fish and sometimes eat meat on occasion. I’m not 100% on all vegan theories so although I might be fully vegan one day, until then I’ll become more informed and do what I can. That means I always buy organic and from local butchers. Even as a practising vegetarian I make sure I buy fruit and veg that has been grown in natural fertiliser and from local markets. I take vegan options where I can so I always have non dairy milk and butter. Don’t feel bad for not being a fully fledged vegan as it all helps.
3. Say no to plastics – I hate the amount of plastic we use in the uk. I know we don’t dump it all in the oceans like some of neighbours but landfill is a problem and the world is getting too full! Make sure you don’t buy bottles of plastic water – we have a brita tap and keep cold glass bottles full in our fridge. Say no to plastic lids on your coffee cups and if you fancy a dirty takeaway then get them to wrap it in paper or a cardboard pizza box rather than plastic. Oh and reuse bags! My mum and dad are 80 and most of their generation are brilliant at recycling despite not being brought up with it as they have a much better attitude to not being wasteful compared to my generation.
4. Walk places and appreciate the world around you – we have a car but I can honestly say that we only use it for driving long distances. For our supermarket shopping we pick green delivery shops (optimising when a van is already in our area) or we walk everywhere. Walking to the shops means you’re more likely to support local businesses and it keeps you fit! I work in London and was a real advocate of taxis and the tube but I now love the freedom of walking around where I appreciate the local sites so much more and I get less rage at late transport.
5. Take responsibility for your own temperature – If you’re hot, take your jumper off and if you’re cold put one on! It’s not difficult and it saves the constant turning up and down of a thermostat. We actually invested in a Nest heating system which, although an initial outlay (around £200) saves you money in the long term by learning your habits and only activating when someone is home, thus helping the environment in turn.
6. Be nice – People think that it’s takes money or status to help others but simply by being kind and listening to others goes a long way. Don’t walk through town wearing your bad day on your face, speak to old ladies at bus stops, hold doors open for others, stop and speak to your neighbour and say thank you when you’re buying things in store. Also be welcoming when people greet you, whether it’s walking into a meeting room, down a street or meeting someone new. Be the person that you would like others to be with you.
7. Donate what you have spare – I don’t just mean giving away clothes to local charity shops but also by giving your time – whether that’s listening to a friend in need, helping at a Soup Kitchen or showing somebody how to do something at work. Giving something to others, however small helps them and you.
8. Be accepting – Part of being more humanitarian means not judging. Just because someone is from a certain place or looks a certain way, you shouldn’t attribute certain character traits to them. Also, have empathy; if someone is behaving badly it might be because something has happened to them that has made them feel the need to release tension. Everybody has their own problems and their own ways of dealing with them – help don’t persecute.
9. Trust your heart and body more – not an easy one for me to say as I don’t trust my mind half the time as it gets sad and pulls me into deep states of depression, however I do believe in instinct and my heart. My mind has stopped me doing lots of great things in the past as my mind has warned me off meaning I haven’t progressed as a person as much as I would have liked. If your heart feels that something is good then take a chance. If your heart is telling you that someone needs help then listen to it. Forget some of the stereotypes you’ve heard. Not giving money to a homeless person as you’ve heard ‘all homeless people will spend it on drugs and booze’ is ridiculous right? Where your body is concerned, you’ve lived in your body for years and it knows when it’s not happy. If you eat processed foods you’ll feel sluggish and spotty. If you don’t drink water then your skin will look grey. Get this one right and the other points in this article will be easy.
10. Don’t preach to others, just help them along – Your success is all you need to make others better at looking after the world. Awareness is pretty low worldwide concerning how changing small habits make a huge difference. Sadly not everyone cares about the world they live in, however they care about themselves. Once I mention to people how eating a bit less meat saves me a fortune in shopping bills, how having less plastic means I have to go to the bin storage far less and how walking places means I’ve discovered loads of cool stuff and lost half a stone.
Basically DO WHAT YOU CAN, feel good about what you do and not about what you don’t. If you want to be really great then every so often ask yourself if you can do more, push your comfort zones and you might be surprised. Be your own judge, just don’t judge yourself harshly and definitely don’t judge others, just help educate.