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Resolutionary politics

Clothes swapping, car sharing and joining a 'green gym'. Fiona Osler offers some planet-saving alternatives to the usual New Year's resolutions

December 1, 2006
5 min read

Buy Nothing Christmas

Start your New Year’s resolutions early and give up presents for Christmas. The Buy Nothing Christmas website from adbusters includes tips and hints to get through the seasonal consumerfest without spending a penny. Try out the downloadable gift exemption vouchers at www.adbusters.org/metas/eco/ bnd/bnd_xmas

Sponsor Trees For Life

The Olive Co-operative, in partnership with Zaytoun and the Palestine Fair Trade Association, recently launched ‘Trees For Life – Planting Peace in Palestine’. For just £20 you can sponsor five trees and help offset the 500,000 olive trees that have been destroyed by Israel since 2000. Each new tree sponsored represents a long-term source of income for Palestinian families. www.olivecoop.com

Become a car-sharer

Only 5 per cent of people share a car journey to work. Yet car sharing can save you up to £1,000 annually, as well as reducing pollution and the overall number of cars on the road. Freewheelers is an international organisation with an online database that hooks you up with drivers and passengers across the world. Liftshare has over 100,000 people registered in a UK-wide car sharing sheme and also works with local authorities and employers to create lift sharing schemes. Join up at www.liftsharing.com and www.freewheelers.co.uk

Meat is murder (for the planet too)

Changing your diet is critical to the health of the planet – and even you smug non-intensive meat, free-range chick types shouldn’t get too comfy. Along with raising your cholesterol, meat consumption raises atmospheric CO2 levels. University of Chicago researchers recently compared a standard vegan diet to a US-style carnivorous diet, and found the average meat eater (not a super-sizer) diet emits the equivalent of 1. 5 tonnes more CO2 every year than the standard vegan diet. It takes at least 7kg of feed to produce one kilo of beef, 2kg for every kilo of chicken, 4kg for pork. Never mind the extra land, water, energy and chemicals used.

Clothes swapping

Stop buying new clothes (especially cheap ‘bargain’ clothes).

While the UK is presently too cold for all-out naturism, cutting out synthetic and non-organic fibres makes a big difference. Over 20 human and environmental rights abuses go into just one standard clothing item – from pesticide spraying and cotton dying to worker and animal exploitation. Polyester is made from petrochemicals; synthetic and non-organic cotton fabrics are treated with pesticides and formaldehyde; and nylon accounts for up to half of UK levels of nitrous oxide. Pledge to recycle your old clothes by holding clothes swapping parties with friends or donate to charity shops. www.whatsmineisyours.com

Give up money

Bypass the money economy and join your nearest LETS (Local Exchange Trading Scheme). More than 40,000 people participate in LETS across the UK. People exchange skills, goods and services without the need for filthy lucre. www.letslinkuk.net

Join a ‘green gym’

Improve your health and the environment with British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) green gym groups. The groups meet at least once a week to do between one and four hours practical conservation and gardening work. It can include anything from coppicing to building a community garden. www2.btcv.org.uk/display/greengym

Give up flying

The Flight Pledge Union (FPU) says giving up flying is the single most effective individual action you can take to combat climate change. The FPU offers two types of pledges: gold and silver. In the former you pledge not to take any flights in the next year, and with the silver not take more than two return short haul flights or one return long haul flight (except in an emergency). Sign up online at www.flightpledge.org.uk. To plan your trip using trains, see the Man in Seat 61 website at www.seat61.com

Dig for Green Victory

Resolve to cut down on your food miles. As well as buying only local products, get an allotment, turn part of your garden over to organic veggie growing or even just get a compost bin.

  • www.allotments-uk.com
  • www.bigbarn.co.uk
  • www.abel-cole.co.uk

    And don’t forget Red Pepper

    Finally, resolve to do everything in your power to make positive changes for the environment and people. Stay politically active, share your copy of Red Pepper and encourage your friends to subscribe.

  • Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
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