There are many ways we can use our human energy to lighten load on natural resources and tread lightly on our home planet. Check how many of these you do already:
1. Recycle and re-use Wherever possible, separate waste into compost material, bottles, tins, paper, clothing etc and make sure that these get recycled. See if your local council has a policy for recycling, food reclamation to fuel or even methane extraction from waste. If they don't - start one. Ask your neighbours to contribute to a local composting station.
"The UK has one of worst recycling records in Europe (12.4%) compared with 64% in Austria, 52% in Belgium, 50% in Germany and 47% in Netherlands. In UK we bury 80% of our rubbish in landfills, compared to Swiss who only landfill 7% of their rubbish." (The Observer 2004)
2. Shop locally or order a veg box Give your local farmers a boost by buying direct - either by visiting farms, farmer's markets or through vegetable box schemes - which are usually organic. This saves transport costs in 'food miles' and guarantees, fresh, local, un-polluted and healthy, in-season food. Try and avoid supermarkets and shop locally when possible to enhance your own local micro-economy.
"The average household [in UK] spends £470 a year (or one sixth of its total food budget) on packaging. In a typical Asda or Tesco shopping basket only 26% of cost is accounted for by food; rest is packaging, processing, transport, store overheads, advertising and mark-up of supermarkets which is sometimes as high as 45%." (National Farmers' Union)
3. Make more of your own food from fresh Stop buying ready-meals and throw away your microwave. Take time to make healthy, balanced and delicious meals and condiments from wholesome raw ingredients. Be like French and live to eat - rather than eat to live ! Eating food is only activity apart from sex that involves all of our senses.
4. Promote community exchange If you can exchange skills, items or energy direct with other people without use of money - this makes your activities more efficient. If you can share resources with people around you - then you don't have to earn so much to buy things and you don't have to work as much.
5. Improve local diversity of nature See what you can do to provide right ecosystems to promote local biodiversity. Bring butterflies, moths, birds, wild flowers and so on into your local environment by providing resources they need.
6. Review domestic energy use Check whether you can save energy by cutting down consumption or being more efficient. There are government schemes in UK to help with heating efficiency and insulation. Even switching off at plug at night saves power -those little red 'power on' lights add up to over £4 million of electricity used in UK each year ! Look at how your home uses energy and where it can be saved, even if it means putting a jumper on occasionally.
7. Start a local investment scheme If you want to save for a future - doesn't it make sense to invest in something you can see and touch - like a local investment system that brings a return on your money and improves your own locality ? Invest money where you can see what it is doing - and where you can lend a hand if needs be. Community companies, local co-operatives and credit unions are a growing resource for sustainable local investment. What better way is there than to invest your energy directly into your local micro-economy where you can cherish it ?
8. Use an ethical banking system Just what does your money do when you invest it a bank? Do you invest in land mines that blow off children's legs ? Do you support armaments manufacturing, over-exploitation of rainforests, globalised cartels intent on raping planet ? Does your default investment in a bank endorse child slavery and prostitution, international drug running and money laundering ? Check investment policies of your bank to see just where they are putting your energy as an investment. If you don't like what you see, at least consider using an ethical bank that might invest in things you want in world. Even better - reach for a lifestyle that doesn't include a bank account at all.
Did you invest in this ? "Japanese physicist Professor Yagasaki calculated that 500+ metric tonnes of depleted uranium (DU) that US unleashed on Afghanistan was radioactive equivalent of 51,875 atomic bombs of size dropped on Japanese city of Nagasaki. During 2003 Gulf War amount of DU used was equivalent of 103,750 atomic bombs size of that dropped on Nagasaki. DU fallout will travel from Middle East to UK, US and parts of Asia." (International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War)
9. Review car use and petrol consumption The real price of petrol, if you apply economic principles to its production - that includes time earth has taken to make it - comes in at over £1 million per gallon. Its use produces awful chemical pollution and extreme noise. Most internal combustion engines run at an incredibly low efficiency (usually about 20%). The logic of having something that weighs over a ton to transport a single person defeats me. Yes, I know they're incredibly convenient compared to alternatives and that many motors have cult status but - come on - there has to be a better way than this ! Boy am I looking forward to hydrogen / oxygen fuel cells. Cycling is great!
10. Start a local energy collective Your roofs are a resource ! Take a look at some of rooftop energy panels available today. Chat with your neighbours about a collective approach to local energy needs. Sell your excess energy back to grid ! Intermediate technology combined with modern technology in wind, solar or water power has come of age so start your own power supply.
11. Learn more about nature in your local environment Which wild animals and plants live in your environment? Share some time with them and see what they can teach you. Become a direct 'friend of nature' and explore how other species see world we share. You could even adopt some wild nature near you and 'look out' for it.
12. Make things from found or recycled materials Do you remember fun you had whittling wood when you were younger? Keep an eye out for interesting wood you can prepare to make useful things. So much stuff is just thrown away or destroyed that could be useful again given a little T.L.C. Wild wood can make attractive coat hangers, boxes, shelves, even furniture. Waste skips often have objects that can easily be given a 'new life'. Working with your hands to make things 'new' can be a deeply satisfying experience.
13. Make your own Christmas and birthday presents Take time out to make things that you enjoy and give them away to people you love. These have a value way over anything you can buy. If you have a creative hobby - use it to make gifts instead of buying them. If you don't - find a hobby or activity that puts you in touch with natural things.