What Small Changes You Can Make To Start Big Shifts
Just because we don't want to know about it, or because we close our eyes to it, does that mean we are not supporting acts of cruelty that don't match up with our value system? What could we do instead? I am certainly not perfect, and in the book I am almost finished, I speak about the challenges that I have faced with living a "cruelty-free" life and continue to learn about. It really is a journey of evolving and since life is messy not linear, we can do our best with what we have and then as we learn more or circumstances change, we can do our new best.
What concerns me is when we, individually and as a whole, are aware we are not doing our best and in fact, are supporting industries that cause suffering to others or to our planet, but we close our eyes, turn up our headphones and keep going as if nothing is a miss. It can be overwhelming if we look at the whole picture of what is occurring on our planet, with global warming, fast extinction rates, refugee situations and completely mental government policies - but what if we zoom in for a moment and look in our own backyard.
Perhaps we don't have the "power" to change the world, but we can empower ourselves to live lives of action and at least, not contributing to the problems.
I think to do this we have to start small. I'm not suggesting to "think small" but making incremental shifts in our lives is easier for us, especially when we are running households, working and looking after ourselves.
Starting small takes the pressure off, but it gets the ball rolling.
Personally in my daily pray session I always bring into my scope how grateful I am to have been born into such a privileged life. Really honing in on this, and not in a "fluffy" manner, can help cultivate the appreciation for our life but more so, bring a strong sense of responsibility for what are doing with our privileged lives. Around the world children are starving, woman are denied the right to education, families have no homes, rainforests are being pulled down (arghhh - OK, don't focus too much on the distress, but don't forget it is reality)
SO what the f#ck are we - are YOU - going to do with all this freedom, space and ability?
Complain about how bad things are? Turn off our minds and hearts and say we don't want to know.
No. We have choices.
Daily in our households one of the most affective changes we can make is with our diet.
We eat three times a day, every day. And as mothers, we times this by the members in our family we are caring (aka cooking) for. Not only does our diet have a great affect on our own health and wellbeing (and illness), making it an essential part of why we should pay attention to what we are putting in our mouths, it also has a ginormous impact on the environment, third world countries and the wellbeing of animals across the globe.
Animal agriculture comes at a great cost to the planet. The UN’s reports show that it is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions - that is more than all transport combined.
Cows alone produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day, with methane being 25- 100 x more destructive than carbon dioxide. Raising animals for food is responsible for 33% of the worlds total fresh water consumption – and 55% in the US and it is the biggest land user, with livestock and livestock feed occupies over 1/3 of the earths land.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of:
- species extinction
- ocean dead zones
- water pollution
- rainforest and habitat destruction.
Then there is the suffering caused when our meat or dairy comes from factory farms ( 80% of all meat and dairy world-wide) where animals, with feelings and emotions, are forced to live unnatural lives confined, in overcrowded sheds, with no fresh air and fed diets that they are not designed for - and that come at a cost to the planet. Animal feed for factory farms is most often grown in third world countries (think Brazilian Amazon) where the feed companies buy great amounts of land, often deforested, and instead of it being used for locals to grow their own food, it is used to grow mass amounts of genetically modified soy or corn - that is then fed to the animals. This meat doesn't go to feeding the poorer locals of this land who have lost their own farms, but to us in western countries - of course unknown to us when we buy it off the supermarket shelf wrapped in plastic, so removed from what has occurred before it.
We may not all want or perhaps even be able to live healthy lives without meat. But we certainly can ALL cut down on how much we are consuming and we CAN take responsibility from where the meat has come from, and how the animals have been raised.
Could you change what cheese you are buying to something organic? Can you stop buying caged eggs and switch to pasteurised, organic eggs? Can you have a "Meat -Free Monday" every week? Start small. See how it feels. Learn a little more about what you are supporting.
We can also be conscious of where our vegetables have come from. Are they grown with high amounts of pesticides, contributing to pollution of waterways (and our bodies) or are they from farms that are supporting the planet?
Of course I don't claim these actions will help the refugee situation, or get girls educated. But personally what I have found is starting small with my own home - with what I CAN do that is positive, gives me the energy and scope to see what ELSE is possible. Instead of wedding gifts my husband and I got $24, 000 donated to Oxfam for fresh water, last year we gave a big sum to charity for helping girls get schooling in the Middle East, thats how we came to be involved with Voiceless and I have always volunteered my time whether it be to refugees or to street kids, or blogging - it brings me back to how unbelievably lucky I am and helps me keep perspective. So it is a win win.
Starting small adds up and expands us, creating possibilities for what we CAN do. Even if it doesn't fix things, it gives hope legs and can inspire others to do the same generating even larger changes. Plus, you never know what you might start caring about, a whole awful lot.