Think Global, Start Local – How To Support Environmental Movements Right Where You Are

Often when we think about taking action on the current environmental crisis we face on this planet, we only think big. We think of the large global movements; cleaning plastic from the oceans, lobbying our governments to follow international climate accords or persuading companies to switch to environmentally-friendly practices. In focusing on global action, we sometimes overlook the incredible environmental movements which operate locally. These grass-roots volunteer organisations are making a difference in smaller, but no less important ways.

This week we wanted to focus on ways to support our local community organisations. We want to highlight some of the easiest ways you can immediately connect with organisations working to impact our planet for the better. 

Get In The Know

Do a search for any environmental groups and organisations in your local area. There are likely to be many fantastic groups doing their small part for the planet that you haven’t even heard of yet. Seek them out and find out more about what they do and how you can support them.

Be Their Fan

Now you have found some great organisations working locally, follow them on social media. Like and share their posts and help others find them too. Sign up to get their updates and encourage others in your town to do the same. 

Get Together

Make an effort to go to some of the events or classes arranged by these organisations. You might learn something new, meet some new people and at the same time feel great about supporting an organization doing good for our environment. It is a bonus for the organisation if you can also encourage others to join you. Turn up to their events with a team from your company or as a neighbourhood group and really show your support for what they are doing. 

Use Them

Well actually, use their services. Many fantastic local environmental movements have some excellent services they offer to the community such as repair cafes, toy libraries, community gardens, and much more. Support them by making use of the services they offer. 

Donate

Most local organisations rely on the generosity of others to survive. One of the best ways you can support is to donate regularly to help them cover their costs.

Donate in Kind

Donations don’t have to be only in money. Many local organisations operate with the essential help of volunteers or by donations of food, clothing or furniture. 

Add Your Voice To Their Message

Help your local environmental movement in getting their message out. You can offer to help canvas the streets, organise events, write letters to politicians or design a website for them. Be part of their efforts to change government policy, company or individual behaviour by lending your skills and voice to their cause. 

Share Your Ideas

Don’t be shy in offering new ideas to organisations working in your local area. Perhaps you have an excellent idea for a local cleanup or a tree planting day. Or maybe you can offer to coach volunteers in a skill that you have expertise in. 

Together We Can Do More

Get your neighbours, friends and coworkers to join in supporting local environmental movements by becoming members or regular donors. If there is no group in your local area focusing on an issue you feel strongly about, start one. Get a few like-minded individuals together to do something good for the environment. You can start small with a local cleanup, a small community garden plot or even hosting a class on an eco-friendly topic. Get active and encourage others to join you.  

Kindness to our planet needs to happen at every level; globally and locally. We hope that we will open our minds and hearts and support anyone who is working to make a difference, whether they are trying to change the entire world or just a small part of it. 

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much

– Helen Keller

The Fine Art of Shopping with Intent

Shopping with intent is about actively choosing to buy from companies and brands who value the same things as we do. For every dollar we spend sends a message about what we value. Shopping with intent means choosing to vote with our wallets for companies who align with our set of values. 

Too often, we spend money without thought of what we are giving value to. By choosing to shop with intent based on what we value, we support companies doing good and can demand change from those who are not.

Most of the time we buy something as it is a reflection of us. We buy things because they reflect our creativity, our status or simply because they highlight our best features. Buying with intent means we also care about the message behind the brands and companies we support. 

Decide What Matters The Most

Shopping with intent is about deciding what is important to you. Focusing on the issues you feel strongly about and using your purchasing power to make a difference by spending with companies who are aligned with your values.

Environmental Protection: In valuing the environment you will want to be buying products that are made in an environmentally-friendly manner. You will care greatly about sustainable products and supporting brands that use these.

Ethical Practices: In valuing ethical practices you care for the people behind the products, you will want to be buying from companies who treat workers with dignity, pay fair wages and ensure safe working conditions. You may also prefer to purchase locally-made, artisan-made and fair-trade products. 

Cruelty-free: In being concerned about the welfare of animals, you will be looking for brands that are vegan, cruelty-free and PETA-approved. You will be wanting to steer clear of animal skins, animal by-products or any item that has been tested on animals. 

Giving back: In being charitable with your money, you will be looking for brands that give back a portion of their profit to charities that you support. 

Your ideal set of values will be a combination of some or all of the above. For example, you may value products that are vegan, ethically produced and environmentally-friendly. You may, therefore, choose to buy things that do not take away from others, but instead give back to communities and to our planet. You may choose to only buy things that are from sustainable resources, can be recycled and do not add to the waste in our oceans. 

Realising the effect of your purchasing power is a powerful shift towards shopping with intention. Incorporating this intent into everything you buy makes a powerful statement to companies about the need to walk the talk when it comes to consumer values. 

shopping with intent

Steps Towards Shopping with Intent

Unsubscribe

Unsubscribe from stores and companies who do not follow your values. If you don’t see their advertising you won’t be tempted to buy from them. Find brands you like, that are aligned with your values and follow them. 

Learn More About The Brands

Get informed about the companies you buy from. Be sure to read the company’s About page to find out more about who they are and what they stand for. If the company claims to be environmentally-friendly, ethical or vegan, you will find more details on their About page. Look for certifications to prove they have gone the extra mile to be recognised as an ethical brand and are willing to submit to random audits to keep their certification. 

To consume or not to consume. 

Just because you can buy something, doesn’t mean you should. As conscious citizens, it makes sense to pause and consider if this is something you really need to add to your home or wardrobe. Shopping with intention does not mean going without, it means consciously choosing items which align with your values, and impact the world in a positive way. It means refusing to buy from brands who do not match your values. 

Ask The Hard Questions

Before you buy something, the most important questions to ask are: ‘Who made this item?’ and ‘How was it made?’. This is particularly important for fashion items. Here are some great resources to do just that:

The Fashion Revolution the global movement towards a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.

The Greenpeace Detox Catwalk encourages mainstream fashion labels to reduce the level of toxins used in the production process of their clothing. 

Start using the Good On You Brand Directory to check the impact of your chosen item on the planet, people and animals. 

Rank a brand gives you the latest sustainability rating for thousands of brands. 

Find out more in the consumer guides produced by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

Value Longevity

Shopping with intent also takes into account the durability of an item. Taking care to buy high-quality items also comes with the commitment to take care of them correctly through their lifetime. Companies like Patagonia’s worn-wear program is an excellent example of a company caring about the longevity of their products, with guides on how to care for them and repair them. 

Feel Great About Your Choices

The most important part of shopping with intent is to choose products from brands that you feel good about. It is about choosing items that you can proudly wear, knowing they align with your own values. Purchasing from value-based brands is an intentional vote for a better world for all of us. 

 “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness”  

Mahatma Gandhi

Nine Amazing Social Activists You Should Be Following

We love to support people who are making it their mission to make the world a better place. This week we want to introduce you to nine amazing social activists who want to change the world.

Sonita Alizadeh 

Sonita made her voice heard with the release of her rap video Brides For Sale in protest of forced marriages in her home country, Afghanistan. She was almost married twice, once at 10 years old and again at 16 years old before she rebelled by releasing her song on Youtube. At the time she was living in Iran and risked imprisonment as it was illegal for women to sing in public. However, her song went viral and she won a scholarship to study in the USA. She uses her experience to continue to rap and inspire women to rebel against the cruel traditions of child brides. Her website Sonita aims to amplify the issue of child marriage and aims to educate women internationally. 

Follow her on Twitter @SonitaAlizadeh and on Instagram 

“WE CAN’T CHANGE ANYTHING, IF WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND IT.”

Sonita Alizadeh

Emma Gonzalez

Emma González is a survivor and activist. She was a high school senior at Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland when a gunman opened fire killing 17 people. In response, she became a powerful voice for gun control and helped found March For Our Lives. Her speech at the March For Our Lives event stilled the world for the six minutes and 20 seconds that she stood in silence before explaining that was the amount of time it took a shooter to kill 17 people at her school. Emma uses her platforms to take a stand against violence and encourages others to do the same.

You can follow her on twitter @emma4change and on Instagram

“Change ? in my country ? it’s more likely than you think.”

Emma Gonzalez
environmental social activists

Melati and Isabel Wijsen

At the ages of 10 and 12, Melati and Isabel started their own movement,Bye Bye Plastic Bags. As two teenagers living in Bali, they were inspired by Rwanda, Africa banning plastic bags entirely. What started as a basic mission to get the people of Bali to start saying no to plastic bags, quickly became a bigger movement. They started beach cleanups, petitioned their government and their movement grew into an organisation with 25 staff and teams in fifteen different countries all working to reduce plastic bag use. Recently, the entire island of Bali was declared plastic bag free and Indonesia and has now committed to banning plastic bags completely by 2021. 

You can follow their movement on Twitter @BBPB_bali and on Instagram 

‘What can we do as children living in Bali, NOW, to make a difference?’

Melati and Isabel

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history. While living in Pakistan under the Taliban rule she wrote a blog about life under the Taliban for the BBC. She was outspoken about the change she wanted to see and how she hoped to start a political party of her own to promote education and to create the Malala Education Foundation to help poor girls go to school. But, her activism and outspoken opinions about female education went against the Taliban rules, and in October 2012, Malala was shot by a Taliban gunman on a school bus.

The murder attempt galvanised international support for her and her family who were able to move to the U.K. Malala has not stopped speaking out about the importance of education for every child. She has founded the Malala Fund and published her first book, I Am Malala. In 2014 she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. 

You can follow Malala on twitter @malala and on Instagram

We realise the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.

– Malala Yousafzai

Emma Watson

Although Emma Watson is already a celebrity, she is also a co-founder of the Hollywood Time’s Up movement, a UN ambassador and a constant champion of women’s rights. She is outspoken about the need for all women to have safe, fair and dignified work. Her work with the Time’s Up movement focused on exposing inequality and injustice for women in the workplace. She is determined to ensure the end of discrimination, harassment or abuse of women in the workplace. Her #HeforShe campaign asked men to step up and support equality for women too. 

Follow her on twitter @emmawatson and on Instagram

“If not me, who? If not now, when?” 

― Emma Watson

Greta Thunberg 

No list of social activists would be complete without Greta Thunberg. At 16, this incredible and passionate environmental activist is setting out the change the world. Greta drew the attention of the world by turning up outside the Swedish Parliament for 3 weeks to urge her government to act on the climate crisis. Despite being too young to vote, she has sparked an international youth movement – Fridays for Future. Her passion has inspired millions to take notice of the climate crisis. In a speech to the 2018 COP24 in front of world leaders, she cemented her status as a bold and fearless force for change, “I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. And, if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to.”

Follow Greta on Twitter @GretaThunberg and on Instagram @gretathunberg

“Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around — we can still fix this. I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is.”

– Greta Thunberg
vegan social activist

Dr. Melanie Joy

Melanie Joy, PhD, is an award-winning author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism. Her TED talk Toward Rational, Authentic Food Choices outlines the irrational choice of eating meat. She aims to empower concerned citizens and vegan advocates and to help create a more compassionate and just world for all beings, human and nonhuman alike. Her movement Beyond Carnism is dedicated to exposing and transforming carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. 

You can follow her on twitter @BeyondCarnism and on Instagram

“Educating yourself does not mean that you were stupid in the first place; it means that you are intelligent enough to know that there is plenty left to learn.” 

Melanie Joy

Lauren Ornelas

Lauren Ornelas is an animal rights advocate and the founder and executive director of the Food Empowerment Project This vegan food justice project raises awareness about the power of food choices. It also educates on the interconnected problems of animal abuse, environmental depletion, unfair conditions for agricultural workers, and lack of healthy foods in low-income areas. She is quite a persuasive advocate and is reportedly responsible for turning Whole Foods CEO John Mackey vegan.

Follow her Twitter: @FoodIsPower, Instagram: @foodempowermentproject

“When people not only use their individual food choices but also use their collective voices to change policy or corporations, that is power”

-Lauren Ornelas

If Throwing Money At Brazil Won’t Stop The Amazon Fires What Will?

You cannot have missed the news that the ‘lungs’ of the planet, the Amazon rainforest, is burning out of control. The obvious solution is to donate international aid and get it put out. However, as the members of the G7 recently found out, this is not a simple problem to solve regardless of how much money you throw at it. 

Why is this a problem?

Why should we care about what is happening to a forest in another country? Isn’t that the business of the government of Brazil? Yes, and no. These forests are the largest in the world, with over three million species of plants and animals. This massive forest is also vital to health of our planet as it produces an estimated 6% of the world’s oxygen. And the burning of these trees not only reduces the forest’s ability to produce oxygen, it releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide from what is one of the largest carbon stores on earth. The smoke and carbon released into our atmosphere contributes further to the warming of our planet. Literally, these trees are the lungs of our planet and they are on fire. The destruction of this forest directly affects our planet’s climate.

Can’t we just put the fires out?

There are currently thousands of fires burning in Brazil. The task of putting out these fires in remote jungle areas is extremely difficult. But, perhaps the most difficult to understand is that these fires are not some out of control freak act of God. Most of these fires are set seasonally by ranchers and farmers to expand their land holdings into the virgin forest.

So these fires are deliberate?

Yes, slash and burn farming is a form of shifting agriculture common in the Amazon. Farmers and landowners cut down the natural vegetation and burn it as a method of clearing the land for cultivation. They use this land for a few years until it becomes infertile, and then they move to a new area of forest and burn some more. This process has been repeated over and over for centuries. This is not a new phenomenon. What is new and alarming, is the rate of these fires and the vast areas of forest they are destroying. Farmers and landowners are responding to President Bolsonaro relaxing the enforcement laws against deforestation. His policies have allowed more mining, farming and deforestation to take place, meaning the forest is now being cleared at a rapid rate. Now, while it is the easy conclusion to blame President Bolsonaro and his relaxing of policies, the real story, as always is much more complicated.

What is so complex about it?

It is estimated that there are around 250 million farmers in the region who survive off the land and farming. Using the slash and burn tactics, they can usually sustain themselves for only two consecutive years on the same patch of soil. So, they need to burn more forest away every two years. The increasing international demand for palm oil, beef, soy and wood is fueling even further destruction of this forest. Due to this demand, commercial farming is expanding at an alarming rate. It is estimated that nearly half of all recent deforestation is the result of clearing for commercial agriculture.

Is this solvable?

Like most complex international problems, the solution is incredibly difficult and requires collaborative action by all parties involved. Global political, economic and commercial solutions are required to move us on from the destruction of our planet’s essential resources to fuel our consumer appetites. This is a momentous task and it requires us all to help out.

How can I help? 

Donate to Rainforest Action Network .  The Protect An Acre (PAA) program helps grassroots organisations in forest regions protect threatened forest lands. 

Support the Rainforest Trust to help buy land in the rainforest. Since 1988, the organisation has saved over 23 million acres. 

Reduce your paper and wood consumption. You can check on the Rainforest Alliance website if the products you use are rainforest-safe. 

Change your diet. Reduce the beef in your diet as farming for beef is one of the major reasons for deforestation. 

Search ethically with Ecosia.org. This search engine promises to plant a tree for every 45 searches you make.

Plant a tree or donate to One Tree Planted to plant one for you in the Amazon rainforest. 

Sign Greenpeace’s petition asking the Brazilian government to save the Amazon rainforest and protect the lands of indigenous and traditional communities. 

Small Steps Towards Uniting Our Divided Society

We live in a divided society where arbitrary divisions between the left and the right have become progressively wider. When did we start labelling everyone? And, how do we step back from the edge of this divide towards some civility and humanity? It is time we looked deep into the divisions in our society, and time to consider where this is all heading, and most importantly, how to stop it. 

Most of us have grown up with the knowledge that we have inalienable rights to certain things; what we believe in, how we vote, what we think and what we say. We are the lucky ones in this world to have these rights protected by our laws. But, somewhere along the way, we have grown intolerant of people who disagree with our point of view. We think our right to vote, gives us the right to judge someone who votes differently. We presume our right to choose what to believe in gives us the right to condemn someone for believing in something different. We conclude our right to freedom of speech, allows us to trash and put down someone exercising their right. Especially if they say something we disagree with. Let us be clear, having rights does not entitle us to judge others for exercising their rights. 

Our rush to judgement has let a divide open up right through the middle of our society. On each side stand those with opposing ideas on how the world works. We have labeled these two sides the Left and the Right. And, we face each other over this chasm, throwing hate and inflammatory slogans back and forth across the divide. Each side accuses the other of being prejudiced and having a myopic view of the world. We label each other with terms that should have stayed in the trashcans of history; Nazis, communists, alt-right, white nationalists… We fling these cruel and oppressive labels around like confetti, covering everything and making a huge mess.

This divide has left many feeling the need to choose a side. The endless rhetorical hatred we see daily in our news feeds and on social media only entrenches each side further and improves nothing. We have allowed tensions to be stoked in all sectors of society. As more people are encouraged to choose a side, emotions begin to run hotter than logic. After-all, fighting about our political views feels personal and deeply connected to our values. The fight becomes a battle over perceived right and wrong, good and evil, black and white. The battle ignites online fires of hate that only add to the polarization. It is time to put out these fires, back down from the fight and find a way to cross the abyss that divides our society. 

While we don’t pretend to have the ultimate answer for putting out these fires and mending the divisions, we do have some ideas for small steps in the right direction. 

Get out of your bubble

We are fed a diet of media that is based on our likes, viewing habits and algorithms. What we see and read helps reinforce our views one way or another. In this world of over-information sharing, many individuals are less informed or misinformed. Being willing to read an article from a source you wouldn’t normally visit is a good step towards seeing another point of view. 

Get informed

Getting news sources from social media can mean it is not always the full truth. It is scary to note social media is the main form of news for many people. Inaccurate pages often get the largest attention and shares. Find good sources of information and dig deeper into current events by finding out more about the situation beyond the inflammatory headlines.

Get into a conversation 

Start talking with someone who has a vastly different point of view to you, someone with different moral values or beliefs. Respectful, thoughtful and honest dialogue around controversial topics is the best way forward to mend the divides that keep us apart. 

Listen with understanding 

With openness and kindness, listen to someone with a different point of view and get to understand the things that they place value on. Understand that opinions are formed by the set of values we hold as the most important. While one person will hold liberty, free speech and human rights as their most important values, another person may consider patriotism, loyalty and hard work to be their defining values. 

Ask questions rather than arguing. 

In an argument, both sides become further entrenched in their own positions. We convince ourselves that our argument is based on logic. But actually, most arguments are based on emotion. Asking someone why they believe that idea is more productive than attacking their point of view. 

See people as people

Our best hope to end this divide is to see the ‘other side’ as real people with their own fears, goals and beliefs. Stop seeing them as a caricature of the liberal left or radical right. They are all human beings. No one is going out of their way to be evil. 

Remember social media lacks context

Our social media feeds provide short, angry bursts of reaction to an event or topic. In a rush to respond we often miss the context. When we forget to consider the context of a retweet or share, we miss the chance to understand a different point of view. We instead add even more fuel to the fire. 

While we may not have started the fire, our hope is that these small steps can unite us in the intention to put it out. After all, it will take a united effort to begin closing the divides that separate us. 

Despite the many issues that still separate us, what unites us is far greater than what divides us

Pope Francis

Climate Apartheid – Do We Care Enough To Stop This?

In the coming year, more than 100 million people face the real risk of running out of water, completely. As in no drinkable water in their city at all. Why is this not headline news already? Could it be because these 100 million people live in one of the poorest nations in the world? Welcome to the reality of climate apartheid where the worst effects of climate change are hitting the poorest nations. Where an unfair division exists that segregates along the lines of rich and poor, important and not important, headline news and not headline news, protected and not protected. 

New Delhi is one of 21 major cities in the poorest nations of the world that is poised to run out of groundwater in the next year, according to the UN. This is an ecological apocalypse for these cities. People cannot live without water. Where are the international emergency teams to find a solution to this problem? Do we not care enough? The tough answer is no. We don’t care enough about the impoverished in this world and the ecological apocalypse they are staring into. If this looming disaster was in New York, London or Brussels, how different would the international response be? Do you think the world would look calmly on as the water supply in New York dried up? Would pictures of the people of London queuing for hours to get water from a water tanker cause us concern? Why does this reality happening in New Delhi not move us into action the same way?

How unfair this world is when it comes to dealing with climate change. We are currently sitting through another heatwave in Europe and the US but, it just means that we turn up the air conditioner and continue with our daily lives. A little heat does not worry us; after all, we are not facing another year of hunger as our only crops wither in the heat. We are not at risk of being thirsty. 

The harsh truth about climate change is that the impact is not going to be experienced evenly in this world. While we will experience some inconveniences in the coming years, it will be the poor and vulnerable who will feel the worst effects of this change. It is exactly because it is mostly the poor at risk that the international community finds it so easy to turn a blind eye to this problem. 

When it is only the poor and marginalised in developing countries who will feel the real effect, there is no sense of urgency among the industrialised nations to do anything. This is why politicians can continue to kick the problem down the road for the next generation to fix. After all, why should they risk their elected seat by making unpopular decisions about emissions or resource use?  The most dire consequences of our current abuse of the environment won’t be felt by us for a few more years, so there is still time for others to make the hard calls. The first people to lose water will be the poor, the 100 million in India, who don’t have a vote in the nations that have done the damage. 

It is time we became more aware that this rich bubble we live in is making us complacent. It is causing a gaping chasm between the haves and the have-nots of this world. We will survive the next few years as the climate gets warmer by turning up our air conditioners. We will survive the extreme weather patterns by enacting emergency plans and evacuating to safe-havens. We will survive, but how will the 100 million facing water shortages survive? 

The UN Human Rights Council has published a hard-hitting report entitled ‘Climate Apartheid’ which lays the blame for this looming disaster squarely at our feet. The richest 10% in this world are responsible for more than half of the world’s greenhouse gases, while the poorest 3.5 billion (half of the world population) are responsible for only 10% of the emissions. Yet, it is the poorest who will feel the worst effects of the climate crisis. 

Worse, the report goes on to note that industrialised nations have not once managed to reduce their emissions since the 1970s. The leaders of the richest nations, our leaders, have attended and pledged to make a difference in the Rio Convention (1992). They have signed the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the Paris Accord (2015), and yet, nothing has changed. All these nice words and promises from our elected leaders, all while we continue to pump CO2 into our atmosphere at a growing rate every year. Our leaders are leaving this problem up to the next generation to fix, passing on a damaged and polluted planet for our children to clean up. 

In the coming years, our inaction on this problem will mean 100 to 400 million of the poorest are at risk of hunger and a total of 1 -2 billion will be without adequate access to water (UN), leaving large parts of the world completely unprotected from the effects of climate change. The biggest challenge facing the world is our inaction. Our leaders have chosen to follow a path of economic growth, selfishly making choices based on greed mixed with apathy towards the plight of the poorest nations. 

Our leaders have promised to quit poisoning the air, quit polluting the seas, to stop exploiting natural resources, – yet they continue to allow companies to keep poisoning, polluting and exploiting our world. 

If we really believe in a fair world, we must demand action is taken to protect those nations and populations who are facing the first dire effects of climate change. It is time to hold our leaders accountable and let them know the current path of inaction will not be tolerated any longer. 

We strongly believe in a fair world, where we share the burden of this changing world. We believe in a world where those of us with more, should help those of us with less. We do not want to live in a world where survival depends on which nation you were born into. The ‘Climate Apartheid’ report should be the wake-up call we all need to stop this current path. For what we really need from our elected leaders is action, now! Not more words or signatures on nice-sounding protocols. After all, words without real action have no real meaning. 

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rare and Endangered Species Are Not A Luxury Food Item – Our Protest Against Commercial Whaling

This month the Japanese officially resumed commercial whaling after a halt of more than 30 years. The commercial hunting of whales was banned in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to ensure the conservation of whales. Despite this ban, Japan had continued to hunt whales on a smaller scale for “scientific” purposes. This so-called science experiment resulted in the killing of 333 minke whales last year, including many pregnant female whales. This month Japan has withdrawn from the IWC and decided to ignore the ban altogether, meaning that they will openly hunt whales for commercial use from now on.  

Turning Whale Meat Into A Luxury Item

While the ban of commercial whaling was an excellent initiative for the preservation of whales internationally, it had one unintended consequence, it increased the value of whale meat to a “luxury item”.  The ban of commercial whaling meant that whale meat became a rare and expensive delicacy in Japan where it is eaten as whale cutlets, sliced raw whale, deep-fried whale nuggets, whale bacon and whale jerky.  Whale meat is now a luxury food in the Japanese market, and demand for it is high.  The resumption of commercial hunting spells disaster for the conservation of whales. 

The First Commercial Whaling Resumes Hunt

In the first week after Japan decided to ignore the ban, five whaling ships set sail from Kushiro for the country’s first commercial hunt since 1986. These five ships were allowed to catch more than 227 whales in Japan’s commercial fishing waters. In the first official commercial hunt, the first whale killed was a 5.6-ton Minke whale measuring more than 8 metres in length. Once hauled ashore it was sent to the local fish market where the hunters were hoping for a sale of more than US$18 per kg. This is only the beginning of the whale hunting season.

It is hard to believe this brutal practice of killing whales for a luxury food market still exists in modern day Japan. Whale meat is food from the past. For many older Japanese, it is food from their childhood in the post-WWII era. During this time the American occupation authority encouraged the use of whale meat as a cheap source of protein, and it was often served in school lunches up until 1987.

Now whale meat is not a cheap source of protein for a hungry population, but is served only in the most exclusive restaurants and supermarkets. The creation of a luxury market for this meat is likely to act as an incentive for other countries to also ignore the ban and resume whaling. With many whale species on the brink of extinction, we find this path to be absurd.

The Threat To Whales

But, Japan is not the only nation on the hunt for whales, Norway also continues to hunt whales. They pursued and killed 432 Minke whales last year to supply the growing demand for whale meat in luxury tourist destinations. These harmless creatures have been put at risk by the continued hunting. The resumption of commercial hunting by Japan only increases the risk to their survival. 

Whales are already suffering from the damage we have caused to their environment. We have damaged and encroached on their habitats and breeding grounds, we have depleted their prey through over-fishing and we have polluted their waters with toxins and heavy metals that accumulate in their bodies.  Now added to the human-made threats on this species is the abhorrent act of hunting them for the luxury food market. Hunters wanting to supply this luxury market use grenade harpoons with spring-loaded claws to attack a pod of whales. These harpoons embed deeply into the whale’s flesh killing the whale slowly and painfully while being used to haul them onto the deck of the whaling vessel. If this does not kill the whale, hunters will shoot it onboard with rifles. This is the reality behind the whale meat dish served in a high-end restaurant in Tokyo or Oslo. 

whale

With the long term recovery and survival of whale populations are already at risk we urge the nations of Japan, Norway and Iceland to reconsider their decision to commercially hunt these gentle giants of the seas. These creatures are not a luxury food item, they are an essential part of our oceans and world. And, it is up to us to protect them. 

What can you do?

Send an email to the Japanese Government via the Australian Conservation Society asking them to stop commercial hunting. 

Reduce the demand for whale meat by avoiding restaurants that serve whale meat while visiting any whaling region and encourage others to do the same. Join a whale watching trip to see these magnificent creatures in the wild. 

Adopt a Whale and support the work of the WDC in campaigning to help save the whales.

Contribute towards the fight by supporting one of the many organisations who are working tirelessly to stop the resumption of commercial whale hunting.


Sea Shepard. Sea Shepherd is an international, non-profit marine conservation organization that engages in direct action campaigns to defend wildlife, and conserve and protect the world’s oceans from illegal exploitation and environmental destruction.

Greenpeace Working to defend the natural world and promote peace by investigating, exposing and confronting. 

WWF World Wildlife Fund works to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature.

Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean. 

Ryunosuke Sataro

Rights And Wrong – Standing Up For The Rights Of Women and Girls

The fundamental human rights we enjoy today have been won over many years. These rights are held up by international agreements and largely depend on our leaders working together for the protection of these rights. However, recently we have seen it only takes a few nations failing in this duty to turn back the clock on many of the hard-won human rights we are accustomed to in this modern world. 

The idea of losing fundamental human rights seems farfetched as we sit in our comfortable first world seats. But, some of the most basic human rights are being lost for the most vulnerable in our world. This loss should concern us all. How can we sit quietly when the rights of the most vulnerable can be lost so easily?

In this post we want to highlight the loss of the basic right of choice for a woman or girl over matters concerning their body and their reproductive health. The rights we as women have over our bodies were hard-won rights that women over the centuries fought for. These are rights we cannot lose. And, we cannot stay quiet when these rights are being taken away from any woman or girl, but especially those who are most vulnerable.

The world can be a very difficult place for women in a developing country. The UN estimates that only 52 percent of women in developing nations are free to make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care. These women live in a world where the basic decisions about their sexual health are made by others. In these most difficult places for women, you can find some of the most dedicated organisations working tirelessly to provide access to sexual healthcare, education and support. Unfortunately, this task has been made increasingly difficult for many agencies over the last year. 

The most basic sexual and reproductive rights of women internationally are being threatened by the US gag order, otherwise known as the Mexico City Policy. This policy requires NGOs to certify that they will not perform or promote abortions anywhere in the world as a condition of receiving US family planning funds. This policy has been in place since 1985 but has been dramatically expanded in 2017 to include any recipient of US global aid funding. This aid, worth close to USD$8 Billion annually, is now only available to agencies and NGOs who promise to exclude abortion education or services from their programs. This expanded gag order has a massive impact on NGOs working with the most vulnerable women and girls in developing nations. 

The expanded global gag order also forbids any funded organisation from working in partnership with or referring women to any other organisation which provides abortion services or information. With one signature the US gag order has blocked funding any NGO offering a woman a choice about her reproductive system. This one signature impacts the healthcare provided to pregnant women, leaving them without a choice. The consequences of this decision are real; more unintended pregnancies for women who are struggling in poverty, higher maternal mortality rates and a surge in unsafe abortions. How is this fair on these women? 

The NGOs who have dedicated their work to helping these women and girls are now faced with a tough choice. They can choose to reject US funding and reduce the scale of their programs, or they can deny women access to the sexual healthcare they need.  Both options mean that access to health services and information is now out of the reach of marginalised women living in poor and rural areas in developing nations. 

We strongly believe all women and girls have a right over their own body. No one else has the right to make such important decisions on behalf of another person. Taking away a woman’s right to choose is wrong. Removing access to education and resources needed to keep women and girls healthy and safe is wrong.  Yet, this is not only happening in developing nations in Africa and South Asia, it is also happening in some of the most modern nations too. The recent abortion ban passed in Alabama threatens the lives and health of women there. The ban excludes the option of abortion even in cases of rape or incest and threatens to imprison any health professional trying to help women access an abortion. Alabama is being joined by the states of Georgia, Ohio and Mississippi making abortion illegal within their borders. It is appalling that in 2019 the basic rights of a woman over her own body are being criminalised. 

We worry about the future of global women’s rights when a decision made by an international leader can directly threaten the health, dignity and well-being of women and girls everywhere. 

We envision a world where women and girls have a voice and a choice. And, we stand together with others, joining our voice to the growing outrage at this dismantling of women’s human rights. 

What can we do?

Get Informed

Find out more about the international gag order and the impact it is having. Read real stories of women affected by this decision. 

International Center for Research on Women

PAI Global Gag Order Information

Support 

Find and support NGOs who have rejected US funding and continue to provide sexual health and reproductive services to all women and girls. 

International Planned Parenthood Federation

Maria Stopes International

Join 

Add your voice to the growing outrage by joining a campaign and finding out how to make the noise a little louder: 

International Women’s Health Coalition

Global Fund for Women

In a World Where We Can Be Anything, Be Kind

At ILNI we firmly believe the saying ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind’. We all have the potential to be and do anything we set our minds to, so why not set our intentions towards kindness. For being kind is a choice that we can make each day. We consider that kindness falls into four main categories; Kindness to ourselves, Kindness to others, Kindness to the planet and Kindness to all creatures living on this planet.

As kindness is so important to us at ILNI, we wanted to share a post with our ideas of what kindness means to us.

Kindness to ourselves

  1. Being kind to ourselves means knowing when to take things a little slower. We are all in a rush to get to the next place, tick off the to-do list and do it all perfectly. We need also to know when it is time to take a break, slow things down and catch our breath. Show some kindness to yourself and make that cup of tea, put your feet up for a few minutes and relax into a good book for a while.
  2. Forgive yourself. Yes, we all screw up sometimes, we are all prone to making mistakes. But kindness knows that we should also let ourselves off the hook about things. If you made a mistake, apologise and let it go. Don’t dwell on past mistakes and continue to beat yourself up about an action you took hours, days, years ago. Forgiveness to others starts with being able to forgive ourselves.
  3. Fill up on good stuff. We can be kind to ourselves by choosing to eat nutritious food, drink delicious drinks, read about interesting topics or learn something new. Fill your body and mind with great things that are going to make you feel fabulous, informed and/or excited.

Kindness to Others

  1. The greatest way to show kindness is to take time to really listen to the people in your life. This means putting away your phone and focusing fully on what someone is telling you. Your time listening to someone can make a massive difference to that person.
  2. Actively speak with kindness and be quick to compliment someone on their qualities. Let them know you appreciate them and their honesty, their sense of humour or all the other great qualities they possess. Find a way to build someone up and feel great about who they are, not just what they look like.
  3. Reserve judgement. Being slow to form a negative opinion of someone else is another form of kindness in action. In this fast-paced world, we can be so quick to react negatively. This is especially important when interacting online. Hold judgement, and wait to find out more about who this person is and what they think. Perhaps you will be the one person to show them kindness and empathy among the sea of people who want to judge them. Be that one person.

Kindness to the Planet

  1. Ditch the one-use plastic. This means finding alternatives to that plastic cup, refusing the plastic straw and using reusable bags for your shopping. These small actions can dramatically reduce the amount of plastic that we use every day.
  2. Unplug. Get in the habit of unplugging devices that you are not using. We do not need to be continually supplying electricity to every device in our home and office. Just because we can use an unlimited supply of electricity doesn’t mean we should. By reconsidering our consumption levels we can play a part in ensuring there is enough for everyone and nothing is wasted. 
  3. Reduce, reuse and recycle. The world’s biodiversity is being quickly eroded by our levels of consumption and waste. Everything we use has to come from somewhere and must go somewhere once we’re finished with it. Kindness extends to how we use the resources we have access to. In a world of plenty, kindness is choosing to take less than we can to ensure there is enough for everyone. 

Kindness to all creatures who live on the planet

  1. Choose cruelty-free products. This means getting in the know about the impact of our choices on animals. Avoid products made from animals as all animal products are linked to suffering. We can show kindness by contributing as little as possible to the suffering of animals. Staying away from animal products is the only way to do this.
  2. Switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet. We all know that the human race needs to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy. The production of meat and dairy contributes to greenhouses gases as well as using up a disproportionate amount of resources for the production of each kilo of meat or liter of milk. We don’t all need to give up meat/dairy altogether, even adding a few vegetarian/vegan meals to our week is a kind step in the right direction for our planet. 
  3. Vote for kindness with your wallet, by choosing to buy from companies who also care about showing kindness to all creatures. By supporting cruelty-free companies you can send the message that companies won’t be getting your business unless they stop testing on animals or using animal products. If enough of us make this conscious vote for change via our wallets, we can truly make a change and encourage more companies to go cruelty-free.

No act of kindness is too small. The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many. 

K. Heath

Words of Gratitude For Mother’s Day

As Mother’s day approaches we at ILNI wanted to take some time to show our gratitude to our Mothers, Grandmothers, aunts, sisters and mother-figures who have raised us. These special people are the ones who have helped shape us into who we are. They are the ones who have shared their wisdom with us. And, they are the ones who have loved us unconditionally since the beginning. 

From ILNI to these special women. We are so grateful that: 

You taught me that we should respect each and every individual we come across. 

You taught me there is no solution through conflict. If we want to find the solution, we shouldn’t push towards conflict but look for the way forward through communication.

You showed me what it means to be untiringly available. You were always available to give me time and attention when I needed it most.

You showed me what unconditional love means. You loved me through my best and my worst and taught me to do the same for others.

You taught me good actions always mean more than words. And showed me how to give with kindness and compassion to those in need.

You taught me how important it is to appreciate the finer things in this life. Life is full of beauty if we know how to see it.

You showed me the importance of family time around the table at every evening meal; taking time to talk and listen to each other every day. 

We hope our gratitude thoughts encourage you to share your own with that special person who has loved you from your beginning. This Mother’s day take a moment to show that gratitude in action by doing something thoughtful for your mother or special person in your life. As my mother taught me, we should always find time to show others how much they mean to us. 

‘Call your mother.

Tell her you love her.  

Remember, you’re the only person who knows what her heart sounds like from the inside’

Rachel Wolchin