As a result of thousands, if not millions of years of geological and biological development and adaptation, the earth is able to sustain innumerable complex ecosystems, comprising an inestimable number of diverse life-forms.
However, the resources which either sustain or represent this biodiversity are currently being consumed before they can be replaced. The following quote draws the parallel between economic capital and the capital of our natural resources:
“In most cases…capital cannot be replaced any faster than it was originally produced, and yet we are spending it in one tenth to one millionth of its production time…
…In one year the United States burns in its motor cars more petroleum than the Alaskan oil field accumulated in 100,000 years, more soil goes down Haitian rivers in a day than soil-building processes can replace in a year, and more species are exterminated in tropical forests annually than speciation could replace in a million years.”
From ‘New World, New Mind’ by Paul Ehrlich and Robert Ornstein (p 47)
Moreover, companies and corporations have consumed these limited resources dirtily, wastefully and carelessly.
Damaging, poisoning or polluting one part of nature ultimately has an impact on the rest of nature. We are not separate from nature but part of it. What we do to nature we ultimately do to ourselves.
The last remaining resources and wildlife are precious and finite. We are in a very serious environmental situation. Individual action can influence companies and government and thereby help stop the squandering of our last reserves.
How you can help >>
You can make a difference >>
Ethical banking >>
Save energy in the house >>
Use your power as a consumer >>
Use your car less >>
Talk about your concerns >>
Educate your children >>
Useful reading >>
The tiger might seem a long way away from our activities in the home or supermarket.
However after reading the suggestions below and the section 'Tiger Conservation is People Conservation' (click conservation PDF) you will (hopefully!) understand why any seasoned LifeForce supporter, when asked what organic food, environmentally-friendly cleaning products or ethical banking has to do with tiger conservation, will answer: ‘Everything!’
We can all reduce consumption, be conservative, clean up our activities, recycle, re-use where possible, eat organic food, and prevent our money from being used to abuse other people, other life forms or the environment.
Website addresses of the organisations referred to below are given on the 'links' page.
We suggest visiting the Friends of the Earth website and selecting ‘corporates’ to learn about banks, insurance companies and big businesses that invest in ecologically disastrous schemes and/or regimes with records of human-rights abuse - to name just two depressing examples.
To quote from LifeLines newsletter No.3 (see 'The Bigger LifeForce') “…there is little point in you helping us to save 500 trees if funding is found…to fell 50 000.”
Ask questions about the kinds of companies they invest in. Do you know what your money is being used for? If not, please ask. Gradually changes are occurring to assist ethically-minded investors e.g. from 3rd July 2000, British government legislation obliges trustees of your occupational pension scheme to respond to your enquiries as to their investment policy and their position on these issues.
How do we choose our banks? Are you influenced by advertising campaigns focusing on the most trivial of issues and reassuring us that their interests are our interests? Or do you choose the bank that is the most convenient to you, perhaps just around the corner? As customers we should be aware of how our money is being used and the ways in which the banks behave. Information on the social and environmental policies of a range of banks can be found at the Ethical Investment Research Service. (click links to view). The Cooperative Bank has been graded by the EIRIS (in their report of 6.11.03) as ‘”exceptional” in terms of environmental policy and to have “advanced equal opportunities policies” and a “very clear commitment” to community involvement.
Your current mortgage repayments could be contributing to immoral and/or environmentally dangerous activities. The Co-operative Bank and the Ecological Building Society operate according to comprehensive ethical lending policies.
If you do, the money is not a donation but an investment – for your and your family’s future.
When we close the front door we might think that pollution has been left outside but our homes harbour an enormous combination of chemicals, the effects of which on the environment and our health we are only just beginning to fully realise.
Most supermarkets now stock at least one brand – for example, Ecover products which are, to LifeForce’s knowledge, as eco-friendly as it’s possible to get (as are the containers that hold them and the factory that makes them). If your supermarket doesn’t stock green brands, ask them to. If there is a demand, they will supply it.
Lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, distilled white vinegar, and soda crystals are wonderfully effective, and do no harm to yourselves or the environment (and they’re economical!).
The National Centre for Organic Gardening (Ryton Organic Gardens, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry DV8 3CG) will give you information on all aspects of chemical free gardening and you can make your own compost using waste from your kitchen.
Millions of tonnes of waste is dumped each year, most of which could be recycled. Much of this ‘waste’ is being buried, burned or dumped in the oceans (none of which are desirable), whilst the earth’s resources continue to be plundered - to produce more disposable goods.
Most supermarkets now sell kitchen towels, tissues and toilet paper made from recycled paper, and many office suppliers also stock items made from recycled materials – even letter-quality paper. If they don’t supply it, ask them to! Increased demand will encourage manufacturers and retailers to produce or stock more.
Find out about recycling facilities in your area, such as bottle banks. Councils should now provide all households with boxes for recycling card, newspapers, papers, plastics and tins. It’s a free service, use it!
Why not just return it? Put it back in the prepaid envelope they supply and post off with a note (written on it!) objecting to the waste of paper.
Charities take clothes, furniture and electrical appliances and many councils will take old furniture to use for people in council accommodation. Repair shops may take old appliances which they will mend and sell on.
Visit www.freecycle.org to find your local group advertising all the items that other people want to give away, from pianos and furniture to toys and technology, the only condition being that no money changes hands for those items.
Work toward a more energy-efficient home. 75% of the energy used in the home is for water and heating and much of this is wasted. Not only does this mean you are wasting your money but also (due to its production by burning fossil fuels) that you are unnecessarily aggravatng global warming and pointlessly wasting precious natural resources
...lofts, walls, windows, pipes, floors and hot water tanks. Only heat rooms and water when necessary.
They are expensive to buy but more cost-effective in the long term.
TVs, computers and other electrical appliances left on 'stand-by' consume as much electricity as when on, wasting your money, the Earth's resources and increasing global warming if the electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels.
It’s quicker and cheaper and saves energy. It also makes having a bath into more of a treat. Alternatively share your bath with somebody else - being energy efficient can be fun! You could also turn off the water between brushes of your teeth.
It’s simple to switch to an electricity supplier offering a ‘Green Tariff’ that uses renewable energy from sources such as wind-power and it won’t cost the earth! Friends of the Earth has drawn up a guide to green electricity tariffs and details can be found on their website www.foe.co.uk.
Companies and businesses respond to what you buy, and just as importantly, what you don’t buy. For example, because of consumer pressure, the majority of aerosols are now CFC free (and were so long before the Montreal Protocol became law, due to consumers not buying products containing CFC's), and supermarkets are displaying fair trade, GMO-free and organic foods on their shelves in response to increased demand.
Or, better still, take your own re-useable bag.
Try to buy products that use recycled or recyclable packaging. Write to the companies and/or speak to the staff of the shops that use too much packaging and bring their attention to so many resources being used to create even more waste.
Disposable items such as nappies or razors may be convenient but the industrial production and then disposal of items such as these only adds to the greenhouse effect, pollution and waste problems.
(The logo of the Soil Association is a good guide to the product’s genuine organic status) Your body can only make new cells and tissues from the material you give it. As well as improving your own health, organic farming helps to reduce the amount of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides entering our bodies via our food, atmosphere, water and land. It also helps sustain our natural wildlife and the variety of living creatures with the rich microbial soil it maintains. By protecting and nurturing this soil, we protect and nurture agriculture, the most important of human activities. Local organic farms form a basis for a viable economic unit which need not be dominated by national, continental or worldwide political and commercial fluctuations.
Q How can you, as one person, help to protect trees, hedges and field margins to provide habitats for wildlife such as beetles, birds and mammals?
A Buy some organic breakfast cereal!
From a box of Whole Earth cereal:
"A review published by the Soil Association of organic farms and biodiversity showed that on organic farms there were:
It is also better to eat foods that are in season. Foods bought outside their season are likely to contain all kinds of preservatives.
Buying Fair Trade and eco-friendly goods supports progressive companies that are working to improve the environment through use of clean technology, and working to improve pay and conditions for workers in the Developing Countries. It also takes business away from manufacturers not doing so and hence may persuade them to change their ways. ‘The Good Shopping Guide’ is available via The Ecologist magazine and reviews the behaviour of companies behind everyday consumer brands, providing recommendations to help you select your day to day purchases.
When you can’t think of a suitable present for someone why not choose something that will contribute to protecting our life-support system? You could donate to an environmental charity (such as LifeForce!). There are also several ways to sponsor tree planting, for example the charity ‘Trees for Cities’ allows you to choose from a selection of sites nationally and internationally.
The car is one of the greatest threats to our environment. Unfortunately in many instances there is no alternative, however, much can be done to reduce the pollution they cause.
The car is responsible for c.80% of the world’s pollution and c.20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Remember more cars mean more roads and more pollution. Road-building programmes can also threaten numerous sites of historical interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
You will be reducing car emissions and keeping fit. If the roads are too dangerous in your local area or it lacks cycle-ways then petition your local council.
Buses become less efficient when there are too many cars on the road to slow them down. 50 people sitting on a bus could mean up to 50 fewer cars on the road. And you don’t have to find a place to park!
Send old tyres, batteries and waste oil to recycling centres or a local garage or contact your council for advice on their disposal – and if they do not have any, find out why not!. Don’t dump them or pour oils down drains, or into the ground.
Share journeys for work, shopping or taking the children to school. You can save time and money.
Speak to business owners, shop and bank managers about the products you will and will not purchase and why.
Share your knowledge with employers, teachers, colleagues, friends and family, listen to their concerns. There may be ways in which you can work together to put into practice some of the suggestions listed here or more of your own.
Not only to appreciate the beauty of nature but also to take care of and respect it. To realise that the world’s resources are finite, but that many are being consumed too rapidly for nature to replace them.
Continued extinction of species can lead to collapse of ecosystems on which we all ultimately depend. Our children might delight at stories about tigers, gorillas, lions, crocodiles, bears – but how many of these animals will still be with us by the time our children are reading stories to their children (if their disappearance allows us to get that far)? We have the world in trust to pass on to – even to ensure the existence of - future generations, how will they judge us in this role?
Does your child’s school have environmental lessons and environmental policies? If not, why not? Do they practice conservation of their resources (e.g. paper) and minimal wastage policies and purchase re-cycled goods? If not, why not?
Click links for useful websites on these topics
The Little Earth Book by James Bruges
New World New Mind by Paul Ehrlich and Robert Ornstein (pub.Simon & Schuster)
It recommends, amongst others, the following books:
The Role of Medicine: Dream, Mirage or Nemesis? by Thomas McKeown
Steady-state Economics: The Economics of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth by Herman Daly
Economics, Ecology and Ethics: Essays Toward a Steady-state Economy Edited by Herman Daly
Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species by Paul and Anne Ehrlich
The Cassandra Conference: Resources and the Human Predicament by Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren
Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management by Norman Myers
Sinking Ark by Norman Myers
The Coevolution of Climate and Life by Schneider and Londer
Other recommended titles:
Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander
From the Good Earth by Michael Ableman
Small is Beautiful by E.F.Schumacher
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Secret Life of Plants by Tompkins and Bird
The Turning Point by Fritjof Capra
World Hunger. Twelve Myths by Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins
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