As Here in Singapore I can’t protest or strike because it’s forbidden, here goes my contribution to global climate strike. Because a desert is made of tiny particles of sand, and my voice will always be one of those.
You should know something. Our traveling around the world is not eco-friendly. At all.
Traveling by plane is one of the most carbon-intensive activities that exist, and Alex, myself and the kids are now doing it every one-two months.
But truth is—and I’ll be blunt and selfish and unfiltered and unapologetic—I wouldn’t change it. Because this world travel wouldn’t be possible without flying and I would never miss this opportunity to see the whole world. The whole world! While we still have one, that is! (Yes, I usually joke about what makes me feel uncomfortable)
We thought and researched hard in order to travel mostly by land (I had this romantic idea of being the first family with small children to travel the whole world without flying), but we soon realized that land traveling is not compatible with long distance + working + two small children.
I felt bad for a long time about deciding to fly so much at a time when a big change for the climate is needed. At a time when my eco-friendly journey was taking me to change most of my life habits to be more sustainable, not less.
But then Alex made me notice something—something I do often: I was focusing on the bad, on the negative.
Choosing to fly (or rather not choosing not to fly) doesn’t define me: one decision doesn’t affect the whole of us, the whole of who we are.
I still care
I fly, but I still care a lot about the future of our planet.
I’m the same person who took on the challenge of switching to reusable nappies, menstrual cups and reusable pads after years of disposables—and while raising two toddlers.
I’m the same person who usually doesn’t buy a certain vegetable if it comes in plastic and scolds her husband for buying packaged snacks.
I’m the same person who argues with an astonished and confused Asian lady at the supermarket in Singapore, because she wants to put my pistachios in plastic, but “I don’t use plastic!”.
I’m the same person who forgets her bottle and doesn’t buy a plastic bottle of water even if I’m dying of dehydration.
I’m the same person who reduced the consumption of meat to almost zero, because intensive farming is very carbon intensive.
I’m the same person who doesn’t buy balloons to her kids because it’s important they understand the threat of plastic in today’s world.
I’m the same person who minimized buying and having stuff in order to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle—way before deciding to travel the world.
All this doesn’t compensate for flying, but it does count. Every small decision taken with our planet in mind and at heart counts.
I fly, but I’m aware. Being aware is the first step in every change, in every fight for change—mental health, sugar addiction, self improvement, climate change…
And awareness brings more awareness. Knowing how bad flying is for our planet has made me even more aware of my carbon footprint in my everyday life.
Again, it won’t compensate for flying (carbon emissions don’t work like that unfortunately), but when faced with any everyday decision, it will make me choose sustainably more often than not. It will encourage me to do my part for the planet in an even bigger way. It will encourage me to do the best I can to take care not only of my planet, but of the animals and people on it.
When we’re aware, change is possible.
Awareness is to change what water is to a plant. The more awareness you on pour on change, the bigger it grows.
So here’s an eco-friendly checklist for you. You don’t need to check all the items, simply do your best, keep seeking awareness and change will come.
- Learn about carbon footprint. I wrote about it here.
- Use a non-plastic water bottle and refill it when you’re thirsty.
- Take reusable veggie bags and grocery bags to the supermarket.
- Try to avoid products packaged in plastic (also healthier for your body)
- At the supermarket, prefer products that come from somewhere close (or at least not from the other side of the world)
- Use cloth nappies.
- Avoid wet wipes.
- Recycle: even though people tell you it all goes into the same place, recycling promotes a change in attitude.
- Buy your clothes second hand or from sustainable brands who care about their carbon footprint.
- Be a more conscious consumer: don’t buy what you want, buy what you (really) need.
- Boycott big chains when possible (of food, clothes, anything).
- Stop flying or at least stop taking flying for granted.
- Look into alternatives to flying next time you go on a holiday.
- Consider trains over planes even once.
- When flying, prefer long hauls and nonstop flights, as takeoffs consume the most energy.
- Reduce the consume of red meat, and buy your meat locally (same goes for as many products as you can).
- Talk honestly to your kids about the climate crisis, and how our decisions affect the planet we live on: not having balloons at your birthday party is not the end of the world (having them might be ;-)
- Donate to campaigns and associations devoted to the climate fight.
- Support young climate activists as much as you can (follow and donate to their projects, or even just reach out and ask if there’s anything they need).
- Informe yourself by following people like Greta Thunberg, Rob Greenfield, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Immy Lucas… start with these, and little by little you'll find the voices who talk to you.
Some of these might look like tiny changes in the grand scheme of climate change. But tiny changes (and talking about our tiny changes with others) have a domino effect.
They promote a change in awareness, which promotes a change in attitude, which promotes a change in our needs, which promotes a change in behaviour, which promotes a change in our habits, which promotes a change in the way we talk to people about our habits, which promotes a change in how they think about their own habits, which creates awareness. And the cycle repeats.
Never underestimate the power of one tiny change, and never ever ever think less of any effort you make for our planet.