Written by Laura Kazimierska
2020 is almost done. “Phew” most of us might say in hope for the next year to bring better fortune. This was probably the most unusual year of all. For us divers, it brought loads of challenges as many of us lost the possibility to travel and therefore access to the sea. For me, 2020 was very productive, dive-packed, and a rather successful (well maybe not financially) year, despite all the odds.
These last few days of the year are a great time to look back, reflect on the past, and move toward the future. Moving forward often means positive change, improvement, learning from mistakes, better mindsets, starting with a fresh set of goals for the upcoming 2021.
If by chance you’re tired of disappointing yourself year after year with broken promises of quitting smoking, eating fewer carbs, drinking less booze, or going to the gym, how about setting yourself an eco-resolution (an Ecolution ;P) for a change. This way you can enter the new year that we are all waiting for considerate of our planet and creating a positive change for the future. Here are a few ideas on how to improve the state of our Mother Earth by making just tiny-tiny adjustments to your day-to-day life. Cheers to new beginnings!
Table of Contents
- 1st Ecolution: This year I’ll explore sustainable fashion.
- 2nd Ecolution: This year I will eat less fish or better yet not eat fish at all!
- 3rd Ecolution: This year I’ll plant a tree or pay someone to do it for me.
- 4th Ecolution: This year I will reduce, reuse and recycle
- 5th Ecolution: This year I’ll do a clean-up.
- 6th Ecolution: This year I’ll go diving.
1st Ecolution: This year I’ll explore sustainable fashion.
Think about changing the way you get your clothes. Unfortunately, there is no way to be 100% sustainable with fashion, but there are ways you can reduce your impact on the environment, while still staying trendy. First of all, think about what you buy, where it comes from, and do you really need it. The clothing industry has a massive impact on increased carbon emission as well as causes harm to the natural habitat of various species.
Sustainable brands focus on minimizing the impact on humanity and the environment, and all you need to do as a consumer is make the right choice. It would’ve been quite challenging even a decade ago, but now there are plenty of brands from which to choose without compromising your sense of style and the newest trends. All the ocean lovers can express themself through cleverly designed ocean-themed tops like the one you can find on Narked Shark or Ocean Mimic. If however, you find eco-brands don’t satisfy your fashion taste or it’s simply too expensive, consider if the piece of clothing you plan on buying is going to be used to the extent to justify why it’s been made.
Small change makes a big difference and changing your fashion habits can actually be quite refreshing, here are some things you can do:
- Clothing swaps can be an incredible way to spend an evening with friends reinvigorating your wardrobes. Better yet, join Facebook groups and swap clothes with the people in your area; what a great way to make new friends. Sadly, some of us will have to wait until the pandemic restrictions are lifted to gather in a bigger group.
- “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket…” Do you remember Macklemore’s famous anthem about second-hand shopping? It is spot on, so follow the lead of “one man’s trash, that’s another man’s come up” while you shop. Bring new life to your wardrobe while at the same time minimizing the negative impact of production and transport.
- Veganism has become very trendy in the last decade, but have you ever heard of vegan fashion? Those clothing brands are making sure the production of your clothes does not have a negative impact on animals. How incredibly considerate is that!
- Shop locally from brands made in your own country, and don’t limit it to just clothes! This way, you support local business and economy as well as minimize your carbon footprint. Be careful, though, as some tags may say “made in Italy/Germany/Poland,” which might not be entirely correct. To avoid that mistake, do a bit of research before you decide to buy the product.
- Less means more for the planet. Think twice before you get any additional pieces to enrich your wardrobe. I mean, who needs 10 pairs of shoes anyway?!? (Sorry ladies, I feel your pain)
- Choose clothing made out of recyclable materials but don’t be fooled that they are entirely eco-friendly. The process of converting trash to something wearable costs a lot of energy and uses loads of chemicals; therefore, if you decide to buy it, always pick a high-quality fabric that will last for longer than one season.
- Switch to 100%. That means you shouldn’t buy materials containing 80% of cotton/wool etc., and 20% something else, as there is no technology available to separate them and therefore, they can’t be recycled. Consider choosing brads like Narked Shark as their products are made in renewable energy factories with water-based inks and plastic-free packaging.
2nd Ecolution: This year I will eat less fish or better yet not eat fish at all!
“Unhindered by regulation, driven by greed, the fishing industry is the greatest threat to our oceans. We must take action.” Those are the words of The Guardian columnist George Monbiot and although they might sound daunting, that is a fact. I didn’t realize how complex and politically complicated the problem was before I read “The World is Blue” by Sylvia Earl, and was extremely surprised at how simple the solution for this problem actually is.
As a diver, I’d rather see fish alive swimming happily around me, than lying on my plate. I pledge guilty though as I have an occasional slip with a sushi platter. Yes, I do feel terrible about it, but at least I’m being honest. I know how hard it is to give up your favorite food, therefore I’m not going to say “Stop eating seafood immediately!”, but rather encourage you to consider eating less, be mindful of where your next seafood meal is coming from (was it sourced in a sustainable way?) and learn more about the impact consuming fish products has on the environment.
Maybe those few additional facts are going to prompt your personal decision making. Scientists estimate that any product nowadays harvested from the sea, from plankton to macrofauna, contains microplastics as well as other toxins like pesticides and mercury. They have been found in the stomach of larger fish, filter-feeders, and seabird species. We are still not sure of the long effect it has on our health but it seems to be a contributing factor to cancer, cardiovascular problems, hormonal imbalance, and others. Ask yourself, is even the most delicious meal worth it?
“The seas. Here, life is collapsing even faster than on land. The main cause, the UN biodiversity report makes clear, is not plastic. It is not pollution, not climate breakdown, not even the acidification of the ocean. It is fishing. Because commercial fishing is the most important factor, this is the one we talk about least.”The Guardian, by George Monbiot.
For years scientists and marine conservationists have been warning governments about depleting fish stocks. Most of the fish being served on your plate has been sourced in unsustainable ways, damaging the environment and natural habitats of many marine species including sea mammals like dolphins and whales. By consuming those products, you unintentionally contribute to the collapse of the entire ecosystem. Do you really want to be that kind of person in 2021? Probably not. The reasons to stop, or at least reduce eating fish and seafood, are plenty. Even small changes can make a big difference.
3rd Ecolution: This year I’ll plant a tree or pay someone to do it for me.
Trees, we often take them for granted. Yet, by the year 2030, we might only have 10% of our rainforests left and with that thousands of animals could go extinct. Deforestation is a huge issue of our time, often overlooked and misunderstood by many. Thousands of hectares are being destroyed every day for agriculture or the cultivation of other more profitable plant species. Tropical deforestation is the 2nd biggest contributing factor to climate change.
There are a few things you can do as an individual to help shift the current situation. First, as a consumer, start asking questions like where the products are coming from and do they contribute to devastating deforestation practices. Sorry, but it might be better to put that Nutella jar away as this heavenly tasting yet extremely unhealthy spread contributes to the loss of habitat for thousands of Orangutans. Second, try planting a tree, or better yet loads of them. You can do that in your local areas or even on holiday (like to the Gili Islands) and get your family and friends involved!
If for some reason that’s just too much effort, you can financially support organizations that will do it for you. The Rainforest Rescue, The Amazon Watch, Woodland Trust in the UK, The Superman together with Gili Eco Trust (local homestay owner on Gili Trawangan), and hundreds of other NGOs work hard to fight against deforestation and contributed largely to protect the precious and green lungs of our planet.
These experts understand that the key to reforestation is not just to plant any tree. The magical powers of the forests and jungles lie in their diversity, therefore before you put anything in the ground make sure that the particular species is endemic to the area and won’t harm the balance of the eco-system.
4th Ecolution: This year I will reduce, reuse and recycle
The 3-R’s should be repeated like a mantra in the upcoming year. Yeah, I know you probably hear it all the time almost everywhere. But hey! Isn’t that a great thing?!? The times are finally changing and we have become more and more aware of plastic pollution.
Reducing the amount of stuff we purchase while making responsible and justified choices when shopping can make a big difference for our planet. It is also worth taking examples from older generations by trying to fix something that’s broken instead of just throwing it out. Or if that’s not feasible, try finding a new life for it.
Switch to eco-friendly alternatives like reusable bags, beeswax kitchen wraps, bamboo straws and toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, sustainable toys, the possibilities are endless.
Pay attention to where and how you dispose of your rubbish and make sure you recycle all products that can be recycled. You might be living far away from the sea, but trust me, your rubbish will end up right there at some point and will have a massive impact on the life of turtles, seals, mantas, and all the other marine species.
5th Ecolution: This year I’ll do a clean-up.
I can’t remember the last time I went to the beach or for a walk in the forest and haven’t picked up some trash. Have you? From what I see, we are drowning in our own mess, literally as the sea is full of it. Any plastic that’s been created still exist. Can you imagine?!?! Each and every one of us consciously or unconsciously contribute to plastic pollution, therefore in this upcoming 2021 we should all grab some gloves and reusable garbage bags and venture out to pick up some rubbish.
Better yet if you can earn some cash by doing it. Planet Heroes is a project inspired by other fundraising sites like gofundme.com, but this one focuses on prompting people to donate to clean-up projects all over the world. It can be a small local community (like ours on Gili Trawangan), a school project, a group of friends, or individuals like you. All you need to do is document the whole event, register it on the website, and wait till others donate some cash for your effort. It’s still quite new, but the idea of collective responsibility for rubbish pollution is growing and donations are getting bigger and better the more people join. Don’t wait and put it on your 2021 list.
6th Ecolution: This year I’ll go diving.
The only way to care for something is to understand it in the first place. Diving opens the window to the magical underwater world. It’s a new universe so often overlooked by those staying above the surface. The landscapes are stunning and the reefs are filled with life. This eco-system might look strong and solid but the truth is, it’s fragile and even a small imbalance might contribute to it perishing.
Whether you are new to diving or a diver already, it’s undeniable that sticking your head underwater and taking that first breath will change your perspective forever. Suddenly you understand why we need to care for our ocean and all that lives in it. Those moments when you are surrounded by pure nature, watching species shaped by millions of years of evolution and yet so vulnerable makes you realize that this world needs our protection. There is no way you can miss out on that in 2021!
No matter what you’ll choose for the next year, with that small shift, you’re already facilitating change and helping our precious planet. So be very proud of yourself you eco-warrior!