Forget lists about turning your thermostat down one degree, says Eden’s Tony Kendle. Here’s the mother of all top 10s – on living a life that makes you, others and the planet happy.
There’s no shortage of top tips for a greener life: fitting energy-saving lightbulbs and so on. But are they useful? Yes and no. They can trivialise the issues; saving the world isn’t just a matter of what goes in your shopping basket, and it takes the heat off the big guys. But if we had to write our own top 10 tips (well, 11 actually!), they’d go like this:
2. Be hopeful
Hope isn’t just about crossing your fingers. Without it we could get cynical and frozen in despair. Hope is the fuel – but it only works if you do something.
3. Learn about your life
Is having ‘stuff’ bad? Not always: trade is not the same as consumption and can support livelihoods. Understand what sustains you and what you need to care about. Learning new talents and skills can help you get there.
4. Increase your reach
There’s only so much you can do on your own. Try working with or through other organisations. Also don’t forget that your wallet is your weapon. Make buying choices that help good things happen – worldwide.
5. Be angry at the things you can’t change…
but think about who can change them. Demand that governments, companies and big organisations change with us and give us real choices.
6. Imagine different things
The 21st century will be a time of transformation. Meet different people, explore different things, read different books, try out new ideas.
7. Give gifts and give thanks
Understand why we need each other. This is a time to support each other, to work together and build communities.
8. Get out more
People can’t care about what they don’t understand and don’t have some sense of connection to. So we need to get out and down in that dirt lest we forget how it keeps us alive. Play together, learn, explore and have adventures.
9. Forgive yourself (and others)
Sustainable development will be a territory for endless exploration. Learn from mistakes. We make mistakes because we act, strive and aim high – and that is what makes us human.
10. Have fun
‘Living a sustainable life’ isn’t all about ‘don’t do this’ sucking the joy out of living. Where is the adventure in that? There are worlds of possibility out there. Rich cultures, rich experiences, music, laughter, fun and just enjoying life more – all foundations for a better future!
11. Be the change you wish to see in the world
Gandhi’s saying sounds like something from a hippie poster, but actually it was one of the greatest social insights of the 20th century. So, do everything positive you can, not because a list has told you to but because it’s who you want to be.
Tony Kendle is Foundation Director at the Eden Project. Find out about the inspiring programmes that Eden is doing to be the change we’d like to see in the world.