Want to save the world but don't quite know where to start? Here are just a few ways to make a difference. Minimal effort required.
1. Eat more vegetarian meals Research shows that raising cattle for beef produces more greenhouse gases than all the cars currently in use, due to the enormous amounts of land and water required to produce meat. For example, it takes between 50 000 to 100 000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef for human consumption, but only 2 500 litres of water to produce one kilogram of white rice, and even less for most fruits and vegetables. By swapping one meat-based meal for a plant-based one, you will save approximately 1.3 kilos of carbon emissions, 504 litres of water and 24 square feet of land.
For as little as $25, you can help an individual in a third-world country climb out of poverty. For example, organisations such as KIVA will ask you to give loans to individuals who are struggling, e.g. a woman who needs the money to start her own handicrafts business. Once the borrower has set themselves up, they make repayments until the loan is paid back. The strengths in microfinancing are that money goes to struggling communities, particularly to those who can't obtain bank loans, and enables them to build better lives. Job opportunities are created, and, as a result, borrowers are more likely to have access to education and health. Microfinancing also works at helping women, who are the most likely to suffer in developing countries. And, once these individuals are set up in business, they are more likely to have a continuous source of income. So, for as little as $25, you could help someone long-term.
3. Shop Fair Trade This one might seem particularly obvious, but by switching your everyday tea, coffee and chocolate to brands that are fair trade certified, you can help an estimated 1.5 million people in 58 countries. The two main benefits of fair trade are: Increasing the income of the producers Greater environmental protection through use of organic farming methods By simply changing our brands we can make a big difference to lives around the world.
4. Become a regular campaigner Thanks to modern-day technology, we can now help people in need across the world with a single click. Organisations like Amnesty International regularly send out petitions which take less than 30 seconds to sign. Stopping injustice has never been easier!
5. Shop with a cause
Next time you need to buy something, why not multi-task and help the world in the process. Buy books from Better World Books, an organisation that recycles old books, and sets up child literacy programs in developing countries. Buy cosmetics from brands which do not test on animals, such as The Body Shop. Buy fashion and accessories from brands which support charity programs. For example, the shoe company TOMS will donate one new pair of shoes to a child in need with every pair sold. So, the next time you head out shopping, kill two birds with one stone, and buy from a socially responsible company.