One day last week was apparently 'EarthDay'. I didn't know about it until Twitter informed me some of the people I follow were tweeting about it. So let me enlighten you on the subject... it's a day to remind everyone how beautiful and precious the Earth is and what we should be doing to help preserve it and not destroy it at the rate we are. 

The most poignant messages I read was 'the earth is not ours to squander or exploit' and 'To future generations... sorry.'

 

The way I see it is that the Earth is a gift. It provides us with everything we need to live and get by - food, water, medicines and materials to build shelter and tools. Everything comes from the earth. These basic elements are how everything started and is still the case in some parts of the world. Some people manage to live very simple lives, whilst the rest of us have been enveloped in a world of consumerism and 'stuff'. Industry and technology have developed so fast in the last 100 years it's a bit scary to think what the future will be like in other 100 years and how people’s values have and will change. 

I've never travelled outside Europe to what is known as a less economically developed country, but I know people who have, and many of them have commented that a lot of the people they have met in those countries don’t have much ‘stuff’ but this does not hold them back from living joyful lives, with their families and extended communities. Although, for so many of these people every day is a struggle to survive – getting clean water (which can often involve walking miles), having a home, food and education, as well as generating an income. Much of the reason for this is due to the unequal distribution of the world’s resources and exploitation of the world’s economically poorer countries, by the world’s economically richer countries (including the UK) and multi-national corporations.

But what I want to think about today is ‘Does having material possessions equate to happiness?’ No, I don't think so. I talked with my housemate recently about this issue and she made the point that, to put it simply; the things everyone needs to live and be happy are shelter, food and community. I agree, and I think that as a society we've made our lives so much more complicated, and advertising agencies and companies are constantly bombarding us - trying to sell us their products, taking advantage of us and the current state of the world, telling us our lives will be better if we buy this or have that.

Technology has become so consuming that people cannot get up in the morning without looking at twitter before breakfast (myself included on occasions) and go to the theatre without talking through it like they are on an episode of gogglebox (I’m not even going to start discussing gogglebox!). Comparing children (UK) in the1920's who wanted things like skipping ropes, sweets and a ball for their birthday, the majority of children nowadays now are after the latest talking doll, ipad or xbox, with parents thinking they have to spend hundreds of pounds on plastic gifts for their kids. It's simply not true. We do not need all this stuff to make us happy. 

I don't want to sound like a hypocrite because there is some technology I absolutely love, and makes my live easier in some respects... my laptop provides me with an additional source of income as a freelance designer, taking photos on my DSLR brings me a lot of joy, and I like being able to answer emails on the move and communicate easily with people all around the world, but sometimes I wish things would just slow down and go back to the way things were. The other day my laptop charger stopped working, and my battery soon went flat. I was then stuck and unable to carry on working. In that small, fleeting moment I felt freedom. Freedom away from technology and I remember thinking 'I can do something else now, and not feel guilty I'm not doing work'. Life shouldn't be as busy or as consuming as it is. I'd love to have the freedom to read, to write, and to walk more, be outside, converse with people and get closer to nature. There are so many things that we consume, that we think we want but we don't actually need... and we waste resources and energy on making them. The Earth could be such a better place if we could cut out all the 'crap'. 

My sister Nina has said to me that she does struggle running a business which is largely based on people in the UK buying things as gifts or for the home or jewellery etc, in a world where so many people can’t buy food. However, Fair Grounds is providing a valuable source of income for so many people and communities around the world who are really struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families. It's an internal conflict for Nina and as long as we live in a capitalist society where people keep buying stuff (often because they are told by unethical profiteering companies they need to in order to live happy lives), producers (fair trade or not) all over the world will keep making stuff. It’s a vicious circle and there’s no easy answer, but I believe as individuals we can do something about it, and buying Fair Trade is one thing we can do, and most definitely a step in the right direction.

It's hard though to think, how can I possibly make a difference? To really have any chance of saving the world we need EVERYONE to do their bit, and we need Governments, leaders and companies to enforce and lead the way. So, one thing we can do is put pressure on these organisations (good timing with the general election!) and look at our own lifestyles and see what we can do every day to help ourselves, others and the Earth breathe.

I, personally, would like to do more to lessen my negative impact on the world, but I won't lie, it's not going to be easy. These are some of the things we could all try and do...


1. If you don't 'need' it, don't buy it

2. Try not to waste food, buy what you need and freeze any leftovers or eat it the next day! Grow it yourself if you can or join a local community gardening project

3. Turn the tap off

4. Walk or use public transport, or car share

5. Spend intentional time with your family and friends away from technology

6. Engage in face to face conversations with people you know and people you don’t

7. Do some volunteering

8. Keep things till they break, and then try and fix them before recycling them

9. Buy fair trade products when you can to ensure you are supporting those who need it

10. Instead of buying someone a present (potentially something they don't need), buy them an 'experience' 

11. Support local businesses instead of large corporations and supermarkets

12. De-clutter and get rid of stuff - give to charity, recycle or sell on gumtree (its free to advertise)

 

If you're on Twitter or Facebook, maybe you'd like to send us your thoughts on EarthDay, what you do to reduce your impact on the earth or you could tweet us a photo of your favourite natural world spot!

I'd like to share with you a collection of my own photos of just how incredible and beautiful this earth is and why we must save is for future generations....