2010: Things to do

It’s almost the end of the year. A lot of us will be making the usual New Years resolutions again: drink less, exercise more, eat better. We say this every year, thinking about improving our health and ourselves. It lasts for what, a few months – at best? It’s beyond time for us to wise up and make changes not for ourselves but for our children and the planet that has been loaned to us by them.

Copenhagen has shown us that the politicians can’t be relied upon to stand up to big business and their own interests. Responsibility now lies with the citizen to do something – at the polling station and in our personal lives.

We know what we’re supposed to do: change our lightbulbs, turn the TV off at the wall, turn the thermostat down and so on. We know we’re supposed to keep our air and food miles down. We should be doing the same for sea miles as well.

Half of all journeys made in the EU are less than 5km. Start walking or using a bike for the shorter journeys you make. Take the bus, train or car-share when possible.

Stop wasting food. It’s not a hard thing to do. Start by planning your meals and writing a list before you go shopping. Don’t religiously adhere to “Best Before” dates.

Know what’s involved in the production of what you consume: 140 litres of water for that cup of coffee you enjoy so much for example. And for crying out loud, stop drinking bottled water.

Don’t just recycle: reuse. One of my friends favourite ripostes to the recycling brigade was that it’s not clear if recycling uses any less energy than making something from new. He missed the point entirely. As The Story of Stuff makes clear, we only have a finite amount of resources on the planet.

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