We’re consistently told that standing up for what we believe in is the most honourable path to choose. Even if we stand alone, we must do what’s right by our internal guidance system. Live by our values. But is there a limit to this? Is there any point at which it’s no longer worth it? Would you stand up for your beliefs even if it meant risking your life?

The Guardian has been keeping pretty solid tabs on those individuals who have been killed for doing exactly this: standing up for a healthy environment. The figure stands at 197 courageous men and women in the year 2017 alone, with the rate expected to continue at 4 individuals per week for the forseeable future. These are sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers whose voices have been silenced by those who put capitalist interests before environmental preservation and it disgusts me.

On almost every continent there have been people standing up against logging, land degradation, water pollution and poaching, with Brazil the most dangerous place to be at present. It’s nothing new – since the dawn of time there has existed conflict over land and its many uses. Only, it’s 2018 and there is clear evidence that the planet’s on its last legs. Bar terraforming a new one (and quick!) unless we want to suffer a slow and painful demise, we’ve got to start getting our shit into gear.

From my safe little house in my safe little town on the (relatively) safe little English isle, I go about my days trying to lead by example. I eat a vegan diet, I only consume cruelty-free cosmetics, I recycle, I try wherever possible to avoid plastic consumption and especially the single-use kind, I promote self-care and mindfulness and I make time to help others with making more environmentally-friendly choices whenever they express an interest in learning more. But above all this (because really, none of those things are superpowers), I educate myself as frequently as I’m able to. I absorb every story and statistic I can get my mitts on.

That yearning to know more can be insatiable – is, insatiable. How can I possibly do better if I’m not learning the facts? Blame it on the scientist in me. Once you learn the truth about how devestating our consumption habits are on the planet and how problematic the animal agriculture industry is (yes, I’m a big Monbiot fan) to name just a couple, you see that you have no choice but to alter your lifestyle. It’s either that or live a miserable life. Rejigging everything is a smaller burden than living in conflict with what you know has to be done.

I am incredibly fortunate that I don’t live my life on the firing line. And you are too, if you’re in a similar situation to me. But we have an absolute responsibility to share the truths that the deceased no longer can because we owe it to them for their strength and undeniable bravery for standing up for what they knew to be right.

Indigenous people in sacred places across the globe are having their ancestral lands being destroyed quicker than they’re having time to process the trauma. From the Sioux at Standing Rock to the Ka’apor in Brazil to the mighty women of the Zambezi, the planet is littered with people trying to protect their homes however they can, even if it means their inevitable demise. If home is all you know, how can life go on without it? Home is, after all, more than a physical place. It is the history that goes along with it, the memory, the culture, the family and the soul.

As a human, you have a responsibility to do no harm to another. That’s just how it is. Many don’t live this way, of course and that’s a terrible sadness, but we know how things ought to be. And if it pains you to know that there is all this suffering going on around the world and you feel helpless and incapable of making a difference, know that that couldn’t be further from the truth. Like ripples in a mill pond, your actions can inspire others in ways that you’ve likely never considered. All you need to do is plant the seed.

What changes do you want to see? An end to logging? Buy reclaimed timber furniture. Better air quality? Support renewable resources. The end of climate change? Stop supporting animal agriculture and eat plant-based. Clean seas with healthy marine populations? Cut down on your plastic consumption. Lead by example and others will follow. Your voice is louder than you know.

Photos: Sphynx & MeltingPotSoul via Instagram

 

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Ahhh festival season. The summer vibes of sunshine, good music and cold beer. And of course getting together with all your buddies. It sounds a dream, right? I mean, it is. Floating out of everyday life and into utopia really does lead to the greatest of ‘ups’. Though tragically this is followed by the a contrasting, nightmarish down as you have to wake up the next day and ‘resume life’.

Festival environments are absolute pinnacles of creativity and connection. They are an opportunity for us to put forth intention for the creative kind of life that we would like to lead. Plus – of course – immerse ourselves in a hedonist music scene. My problem, however, is the trash.

You have no doubt seen the horrendous photographs of festival grounds left looking like a post-apocalyptic no man’s land on the day the crowds disperse and make their sorry way home.

Daily Mail

What we see left behind is anything and everything not considered of value to these people: cheap tents that were bought with the intention of only being used once, cheap fancy dress costumes only intended of being used the once, food and drink packaging, clothes, shoes, sleeping bags and pretty much any other item you can think of that one would need to survive at a festival for a few days at a time.

There are three main issues that lead to this wasteland. These are problems in society at large; not simply for the few days of a year at a festival.

Packaging – especially the non-recyclable or non-biodegradable kind

You need to replenish yourself between seeing your favourite artists. This means you’ll likely hit up one of the food stalls on-site and purchase a meal and maybe a drink. It’s important to think about the packaging these are served in. One-use Styrofoam or plastic containers will outlive you. At the very least 500 years. Think about that. And you’re just one person at one music festival! That’s a hell of a footprint you’re leaving on the earth.

Some festivals are doing things oh-so-right. By this I mean only providing biodegradable or recyclable packaging. They also offer a plethora of bins specifically for these items, with the intention of encouraging the crowds to make smart choices in their disposal.

There is a way around using any packaging at all. This is what I’m determined to do for my next festival: bring my own containers for food and beverages. Vendors often don’t care what they put your portion in. Give them the cash and bring your own container. This reduces your demand on resources.

Mentality – if it’s cheap, it doesn’t matter if I only use it once

This is something that spreads far wider than a 3 day festival. It is the drive behind our fast fashion industry and cheap superstores offering bargain-price shit that won’t last. We have got it so wrong when we live by this logic, because we are leaving a lasting pile of crap to accumulate, all because we somehow think we’re getting a better deal. A cheap alternative of whatever material item will never be as good as one made well and built to last. And surely it’s better with things that will stick with you through the times than having to go to the effort to compile a collection of new one-use items each time the demand calls?

What we need – globally – is conscious consumption. Think about each purchase you make. Do you really need it? Where was it made and why whom? Will this last? Is it made well with attention to detail?

What will you leave behind when you die? The earth will keep on spinning and future generations keep on blooming, but our pile of waste on this rock continues to grow at alarming rates. It is filling our oceans, smothering our land, destroying our wildlife and ridding our planet of its natural beauty. Think about the bigger picture when you next sway towards a one-time-use object that will lie around without decaying for the rest of your life.

Responsibility –it’s an organised event so someone else will clean up, right?

This is one of the toughest conundrums, because festival organsers plan for their grounds to be destroyed by the end of the event. They thus make sure they have ample back-up support in place to implement ‘mission clean-up’ once the crowds have left. It’s a safe assumption to make, because there is indeed an ocean of litter left behind. But this also backfires because all the guests know that someone will clean up that bag of camp trash they leave behind, that water-logged tent or that welly missing a sole.

The only way I can think to get around this is to allocate a spot to each group of campers. This way, there is a name attached to that specific plot of land and so someone who has no choice but to take responsibility for the miscellaneous items left behind for someone else to clean up. But this would be a massive change to typical ‘free for all’ camping festivals so the process of implementing such a practice massive and with many aspects to plan for.

I walk the city streets and don’t generally see people throwing rubbish on the ground. Most people wait for one of the bins scattered along the pavement and do the right thing by throwing it in. At a festival, it becomes acceptable to throw your waste wherever you feel like because there is this unspoken ideology that someone hired for the job will throw it away for you, dispose of it properly.

One of the most powerful things you can do is live by example.

  1. Make a point to throw your trash away properly
  2. If you see a friend leaving stuff on the ground, politely ask them if they would like you to throw their rubbish in the bin. It’ll bring their awareness to what they’ve done without causing conflict.
  3. Think about containers you can bring with you to fill with food and drink and re-use.
  4. Think about your purchases pre-festival in preparation for the big event. What will be the life story of those items once the festival is over?

If you have any environmentally-friendly festival ideas worth sharing, please comment below as I’d love to read them!

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Kindness has a ricocheting effect in this world. Doing small things to make someone else’s day that little bit easier or brighter is like dropping a stone into a millpond and watching the ripples stretch out to all corners of that water body. Whether you realise it or not, you were probably prompted to help someone in the first place whilst operating out of a place of appreciation for a kindness that was bestowed upon you.

Remember now – more than ever – that the number of good people in the world vastly outweighs those whose desire it is to cause mayhem and destruction. And even these people aren’t bad. No person is born evil; we all encounter various hardships that mould us into the people we are. We can choose to face our inner demons head-on and heal ourselves, or spin out of control and inflict our pain on others. I look at those I encounter who belittle and bully others and instantly wonder what it is that made them that way; what childhood trauma they experienced. It helps to soften my tendency to mark someone as a ‘write off’.

You can choose to operate out of a place of love or a place of fear; the former results in kindness, compassion, appreciation and peace; the latter results in panic, aggression, and inner torture. You can kill fear with love – as difficult as that can be in a practical sense for many of us. You can’t kill fear with fear. You can’t fight fire with fire.

That’s a really important message to get across. A good example of this is the Million Mask March that has occurred on Bonfire Night for the past few years. Hiding behind a mask and creating destruction all in the name of ‘fighting against the man’ does nothing but make ‘the man’ feel a greater sense of urgency to inflict control upon the people.  It also skews the perception of those people who aren’t ‘the man’ but also aren’t the protesters more strongly in favour of ‘the man’, which really isn’t in their best interest long-term.

For a person in fear, recognising fear in others is a signal for interaction. They know how to deal with that and it is with aggression and manipulation. If a person in fear encounters a person ‘in love’ as it were, this throws them. As Gandhi said, “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. The person in fear does not think the person in love is of any threat…at first. Then, a slow stirring of some kind of inner uncomfortable begins and the only way that person in fear knows how to cope is to belittle the other. As this ‘uncomfortable’ grows they feel they must attack and consume it. Until finally they realise that this just isn’t possible.

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There is so much fear all around us right now. And let’s be honest – no one actually enjoys living amongst it. If you want it to stop, you must not succumb to a skewed perception of the people of this planet. The majority of humans are good and kind and want an easy, peaceful life. Don’t forget that. The next time you have an opportunity, be kind. The minute you do so, you are taking yourself to a better parallel universe.

Imagine if when you read tomorrow’s headlines, they filled your heart with joy and head with hope. Whilst I don’t strive for a society that tries to suppress the things that are wrong with it: the people dying, rainforests being destroyed, mass hunger and desertification occurring all because of a power  imbalance; I do strive for one where the good that is happening in the world gets the attention.

We all know how much is wrong and painful and polluting, but this perpetuates power to those that don’t deserve it.  Why aren’t the great minds of the world that are shaping a more sustainable future grabbing the media’s attention? Why aren’t the good deeds being done by everyday people that can inspire change in the masses being shined in the brightest of lights? Unfortunately the answer is that we live in a cleverly operated world where a select few dominate the news media that bombard us on a daily basis. From the TV we watch while we eat our breakfast, to the radio we blast whilst we drive to work, to the newspapers that litter the floodlit train stations we wait at, to the trailers we sit through before our film of choice commences and the billboards we pass every day, the stories being projectile vomited out to us en masse are carefully tailored to paint a particular picture and instil a certain state of mind.

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I’m not trying to hide 1984 between the lines and encourage the onset of ‘doom and gloom’ mentality for you; rather I’m reminding you that what you read/hear/see in the news every day is not the full story. Nor does it serve your wellbeing the majority of the time.

Educating yourself in whatever it is that you’re interested in is undoubtedly the best way to live. If you have a passion for literature or language, physics or engineering, study those things and make yourself an expert. Learn about and live the essence of that which makes you happy. I would much prefer to see a world filled with experts of all niches teaching each other about their passions and creating beauty than a world of individuals operating out of a place of fear because they cannot cope with another horrific news story. All these people want to do is numb themselves and escape reality, rather than face it head on experience all the incredible things awaiting them.

If you proclaim that you don’t read the news, you’ll be met with a mixed-bag reaction of those who are advocates and look down upon you as a seemingly ignorant soul, or you’ll be met with support by those who also know that it isn’t beneficial to your mental health.

A little research into underground news media can spark a worldview entirely different from that which you would gauge whilst immersing yourself in anything mainstream. Sometimes this can lead you on an even darker downward spiral as you learn of uncomfortable truths, other times you can have your eyes opened to a glimmer of hope that you might not have previously seen.  Either way, educate yourself in those subjects that your gut instinct prompts you to delve into. And dedicate your time to those things that make you a positive asset to society. A group of scared souls is much easier to manipulate than those flourishing at their highest vibration.

I hope one day in the not-so-distant-future we’ll look back and wonder how on Earth we ever let humans drive. I don’t sit here and write this in a frustrated frame of mind after being stuck in traffic; after all, I don’t own a car and travel by train on a daily basis. I’m expressing something that I frequently wonder in disbelief when I am on the roads in somebody else’s car.

I don’t deny that there are many great drivers out there, but even the most switched-on, road-savvy, experienced individual is not superhuman. We all could, theoretically, have a seizure or heart attack at any moment. Or our car could fail us in a time of need. And then there are those that decide to drive drunk or high or tired or whilst texting, hitting the road believing that they are exception to the law. Then there’s driving in weather conditions that you’re uncomfortable with, or God forbid a sudden flash flood that takes you by surprise (and washed away the car of a friend of mine one rainy evening). My point is that you can’t plan for everything and you certainly can’t trust everyone to make the wisest decision 100% of the time.

As of yet, there is no form of transport that is 100% safe and reliable. But, of all of them, driving has got to be the worst. To give you some figures, in 2013, 1,713 people died in car crashes in the UK. Granted, this is lower than the 3,409 in 2000, but it’s still not good enough. And ASIRT report road traffic accidents as being the 9th leading cause of death! Of all the revolting bacterial infections and viruses, road accidents are number 9…

So for the people that want to argue, ‘Driving gives me a sense of freedom. I like to hit the road and go where I want.’ I say first of all, don’t preach to me about freedom! That may as well be my middle name. But I see an alternative looming on the horizon and think you’re remaining well within the box if you want to throw that argument at me.

What if there was an alternative that was totally reliable, frequent, convenient, safe, comfortable and environmentally-friendly. Would you still choose your car? I guess it depends on your priorities. Cars are indeed symbols of freedom, but with more and more of them on the road and an ever-increasing risk to your health, why not focus collectively on a better alternative? I often look at a beautiful place and try to tug on my most creative abstract brain cells and picture it without all the tarmac and four-wheeled fiends. Cars pollute our air with toxic fumes and noise, act as eyesores most of the time, are inefficient, expensive, lead to a waste of time (i.e. traffic) and pose a health risk.

I’m not preaching about getting rid of your car only to use buses and trains that aren’t good enough for your needs. I want you to realise that a car as we know it is NOT as good as it can get. That shouldn’t be the end point of our transport goals in this life. We complain about all the oil companies and how we want to save the planet, but continue to drive our cars around, supporting the oil companies and polluting our planet. Just imagine for a moment if everyone sacked off their cars and demanded that their governments devise plans for a better, more sustainable form of public transport. With developments like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop and Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project, along with Google Chauffer, it’s time we start thinking bigger and striving for better.

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The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail