Mr C and I grew up in Glastonbury, it was full of an eclectic bunch of people and everywhere you looked there were vegans or ‘eco warriers’. I didn’t really appreciate it back then though, the word vegan was almost more of an insult and conjured up images of pasty faced people who lived on tofu and actually cared about animals, what could be worst than that?! And people who wanted to save the planet? Yawn. Who wanted to spend time around those people? Who wants to think about making changes to their life to save the planet when they can just live for today and do anything they like? I mean life is short and once we are gone, we’re gone so why would we care about the state of the planet we leave behind?
That used to be how I felt, and to be honest if you had asked me my views on it at the start of the year I probably would have replied with something similar, I just hadn’t reached a place of awareness where I was able to really take in and think about our planet. I was completely selfish and didn’t give two hoots about animals, the environment or how other humans were living. I didn’t have pets when I was growing up and after nearly being attacked by a dog when I was 10 felt completely detached and scared of most animals. I didn’t feel any connection to animals and spent no time thinking about them, I would even go as far to say that when I would look at videos or animal abuse in the farming industry I would scroll past and feel nothing. My emotions and empathy were completely switched off.
Then I watched Cowspiracy. People who know me are probably getting sick of me talking about this documentary but it’s an absolute life changer. It’s not just about how dreadfully animals are treated but also about the effect farming animals, cows especially, is having on our planet. I watched this show and went vegan overnight then six months later Mr C did the same. He was in a place of denial when I watched it and wasn’t ready to take it in, he said it sounded like rubbish and left the room! I knew it was a choice he had to make himself so I just left him to it but because my eyes had been opened I started to feel really passionately about it and I guess that got him thinking.
I found that once I started caring, it just spiralled to a place where I wanted to look into everything to see how ethical it was or if there was anything I could do to make a change. This is a pretty scary thing because you will discover that almost everything you are buying / doing is causing some harm to either an animal, a human being or the planet but instead of feeling defeated or helpless like I used to, I now feel empowered. I feel like I want to make a difference and if everyone comes together then we CAN make a difference.
It’s not easy to speak out about these things though, I shared something on FB last week about how badly pigs are treated at slaughterhouses and it kicked right off! The point I’d made about the pigs wasn’t even touched on (apart from someone questioning why I had only mentioned pigs and clearly didn’t care about other animals) and instead it focused on how people care more about animals than people, why caring about bees isn’t a very worthy cause, how I use electricity / drive a car and whether I am sourcing my vegan food responsibly. Instead of anyone caring about the pigs they just got angry at me and tried to pick faults in my lifestyle so that they can ignore anything I say. I’m not perfect and I’m not trying to say I am, I am going to write a list below about what we are doing and what we still need to improve on, these are just the things we are aware of too. Every day I’m learning more things that I need to change. If someone shared something I didn’t know then I would be grateful to them for bringing it to my awareness so although not everyone feels that way, hopefully there will be some who do.
I’ve watched lots of films and documentaries over the last six months and each one focuses on a slightly different topic but they all have the same message, to start caring. It’s so easy in this day and age to ignore it and not care but here are my reasons for wanting to change that.
– I want to raise children who feel empathy for everything and everyone, not just certain creatures or situations. I don’t want to teach them that we love and treat cats and dogs with kindness whilst only loving to eat cows and pigs. Empathy should be universal and even if we can’t give every issue our full attention it shouldn’t be because we don’t want to or because we feel some are more worthy than others.
– I want to be happy and I wasn’t that happy before. Looking back, did I even deserve to be happy when I was living my life in such a selfish way? When I was tucking into beef burgers and bacon ignoring the fact I had no need to be eating it other than that I liked the taste. Or buying cheap clothing without thinking about who had suffered to make it. I’m finding that nothing provides the same level of happiness as trying to do something good for another living being.
– I want to try and save our planet so that future generations can enjoy this amazing place.
– I want to reach the end of my life feeling like I made a difference, even if it was just a small one.
So what are we doing to try and make a difference? As I mentioned above, we aren’t perfect, not even sure it’s possible to be these days but there is lots that can be done. Happy for anyone to leave me any tips too, I’m still new to it all and learning.
1. Firstly we have become vegan, this wasn’t just for our planet but also for the animals and for our health. The kids weren’t there to start with and used to say ‘we aren’t vegan’ like it was an awful thing to be, I don’t think their innocent little minds could comprehend how we could be so cruel to animals and I didn’t want to push it on them because I believe it has to be their decision. Then the other day I was watching a video and Cherry asked to see it, then Tiger did and it started a big conversation about what happens to animals in order for us to eat their flesh / secretions and they couldn’t believe it. They asked why the police didn’t arrest the people doing it and send them to prison, I had to explain about money and how unfortunately that rules what is classed as wrong or right in the world. They both now proudly say they are vegan and both chose vegan cheese on their pizzas the other day even though they had the choice. Cherry has even said she is going to watch the cows in the field behind out house and run out there to stop anyone taking them. I feel pleased that they care from a young age because as I mentioned above it took me 32 years to reach this place.
2. We are trying to avoid buying clothing in high street shops and supermarkets as much as possible. (The True Cost is a good watch for why we chose to do this) There are some things like underwear and socks that I wouldn’t want to buy second hand but apart from that we are trying to buy everything in charity shops, second hand or from ethical kid’s clothing companies. I should point out that we don’t have a huge budget for buying clothes so my own will mainly be second hand.
3. We are trying to reduce how much plastic we are buying. Plastic isn’t biodegradable which is a pretty scary thought.
4. We are about to switch our energy supply to Ecotricity, they provide gas and electricity from renewable sources and they make it themselves. I’m about to phone them but we got a quote yesterday and it’s exactly the same price as what we are paying now so that is such an easy step to take.
5. We are looking into these ethical smart phones, I still need to use up my contract on my iPhone but when it’s up I want to switch to one of these Fairphones. I thought I would google it to see if there was such a thing as an ethical smartphone the other day and was happy to discover there was. It runs on the android system too so think there should still be lots of apps available. When it comes to replacing our other technological products I will look into which are the most ethical too. A quick search brings up results although I guess they can’t always be trusted.
6. We are trying not to buy products containing palm oil, this is pretty hard as it’s in everything but we have it down to two things and after tweeting the companies about it I saw that lots of other’s have been doing the same thing so hopefully at some point they will change. I’m not sure there is such a thing as ‘sustainable palm oil’ after researching into it so ideally I want to avoid it altogether. Leonardo Dicaprio’s new film ‘Before The Flood’ covers why palm oil is so bad. We watched this the other night and it’s so good, I loved him ever since Romeo and Juliet came out but I love him even more now because he is speaking out about saving the planet.
7. I’ve switched to buying eco-friendly cleaning products and chemical free beauty products.
Things that still need some improvement are our car situation, we have two and drive them a fair bit. Mr C is hoping to move his workshop nearer to where we live soon though so we can get rid of one. I guess we offset this by the fact we don’t fly anywhere, we haven’t been on an aeroplane for years and don’t take annual holidays abroad. Second of all is the yarn I am buying, I have been buying acrylic yarn as it’s so cheap and comes in lots of bright colours but it’s not very eco-friendly. I would be happy to buy organic cotton but the only readily available brand I’ve found doesn’t come in the colours I like so I’m either looking at buying white and trying to dye it using natural dyes or using old t-shirts and cutting them up or unravelling old jumpers. Then lastly is the fact Mr C drifts cars, he doesn’t do it that often but it’s not particularly good for the environment either. He is planning to build a car which runs on biofuel though and try to make some changes in that way.
Oh another point I want to touch on is nappies, I knew about washable nappies second time round and just didn’t want to use them. I liked the ease of disposables and as I mentioned above I didn’t really care about what would happen to them after I had chucked them out, it was only a couple of weeks ago when we researched it and found out that it takes over 200 years for these nappies to start to break down it hit me how awful it was that we used them. If we have any more babies then I will without a doubt be using cloth nappies but as we are due to stop using them any day I’ve switched to buying eco-friendly ones. I’ve also started buying biodegradable wipes, they are more pricey so I definitely don’t use them for every little thing any more!
I guess it’s about doing as much as you can without sitting in a dark room for the rest of your life eating grass! Or even about just making a few changes because even doing one or two things still make a difference over the course of a lifetime.
So this is why I feel there is a point in saving the planet. I hope you’ve found this post inspiring instead of preachy and as I mentioned above I’m always looking for new things to watch or changes to make so feel free to leave me a comment below 🙂