This article was originally published on Manila Times - Sunday Times Magazine on January 22, 2012. Written by Climate Leader Shiela Castillo-Tiangco.
The good thing about the New Year is that it presents another opportunity to start over and try to do things better. For this year, I’m proposing several resolutions for our planet— three of which most of you are familiar with and might even be practicing. The last five are various ideas that make perfect sense with the first three. The 8Rs put together make for a great list of green resolutions for the New Year. I heard the 8Rs first from my good friend Rodne Rodino Galicha, district manager of The Climate Reality Project-Philippine Presenters, when he shared it to the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Leadership Congress last November.
Here are the 8Rs for green living:
Reuse. Avoid anything disposable. However, some disposables could have a longer lease in life with reuse. For instance, restaurants make food to go with throwaway containers, which can actually be reused. By reusing things, we keep more ‘stuff’ from entering the system, which almost always end up in dumps. Before throwing something away, ask yourself, can this be reused? You will be doing the planet, and your wallet, a lot of good.
Reduce. Are you cooking too much for the size of your family? Are you shopping for things that you don’t really need? Are you generating waste that could be reduced? Less is more. By reducing what you use and lessening the waste that you generate, you have less impact on the environment.
Check out wonderful waste reduction tips on the net that can be immediately practiced at home and in the office.
Recycle. If you cannot reuse something, ask yourself if it can be used for another purpose? By recycling, we are using less energy needed to manufacture various products, thus we are helping mitigate climate change. Through recycling, less raw materials are used and less pollution is generated.
Repair. Filipinos are great at this. I know, because my parents still have the two electric fans we had since I was eight or nine years old, and believe me, that was a long, long time ago. Those fans conked out probably twice, and my parents had them repaired. By repairing our stuff, we get a lot of savings as we prolong the service life of our appliances and other things.
Rethink. New Year is the best time to reflect on our impact to the planet. Evaluate your lifestyle. What should be changed? What should you do to be a better earth citizen? You’ll be surprised at your answers if you seriously take on this exercise.
Refuse. Say no to things you don’t need. I have been blessed to have generous sisters who shower me with gifts. Sometimes it’s hard to tell them I will have no use for their new gift, but I guess they are starting to see how simple (probably even Spartan to their standards!) my lifestyle is. I always appreciate new gifts I could really use and even decent hand-me-downs from my sisters who have impeccable taste. They keep me stylish while I refuse more trips to the mall.
Rain-forest. Are you aware of the country’s National Greening Program? The target is to plant 1.5 billion trees by 2016.
Although some issues mar the NGP, you can always have a local initiative for greening. But make sure to plant only endemic and indigenous trees instead of exotic ones. And remember it is not enough to just plant trees. The new concept is tree growing, where you actually visit the trees again to make sure they are thriving well.
Reconnect. Our indigenous brothers and sisters show us what we have lost— our connection with nature and the entire family of creation. Modern living has brought about an aversion to nature or biophobia. Richard Louv notes that the younger generations have “nature deficit disorder.” One way this can be addressed is by well-planned nature trips that should be done regularly, whether once a week, once a month, or once a year. It should be pleasant enough to look forward to, especially for those who are not the adventurous types. Better to start them young, as children who grow up without any connection to the environment could hardly be expected to value or care for it when they grow up.
Reconnecting with nature is not as simple as reading books about loving nature. Nothing compares with actually communing with the environment. An hour on Facebook or in front of the TV cannot be as memorable as a nature walk, birding or spelunking. Reconnecting with nature is rejuvenating, even a spiritual experience!
By the way, my last date with nature was last November, I better plan for the next one.
What do you think of these green resolutions? Are you doing the 8Rs this year?
Shiela R. Castillo is a co-founder of the Movement of Imaginals for a Sustainable Society through Initiatives, Organizing, and Networking (MISSION) and is a trained presenter for Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore’s The Climate Reality Project (TCRP). She blogs as Green Pen at http://shielarcastillo.net.