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Seeking to Harm Less - by Mandy Preece

Seeking to Harm Less

Hi, I’m Mandy: a self-employed mum living with hubby and son (plus cat and hamster) in terraced house in a village near the south coast of England. And I have a secret: I have been deeply scared about the future of the planet.

When faced with the challenge of climate change, we all react differently. The spectrum of response can range from ignorance, denial or disbelief to activist, environmentalist and embracing a lifestyle of whole-hearted sustainability. But most of us (me included), live somewhere in between. Trying to do our bit but honestly feeling daunted and overwhelmed by the task while juggling family and work commitments. For many of us, ‘being green’ can feel like something we just don’t have time and space for.

I have tried my best to make lifestyle changes to reduce my family’s impact on the planet but, and I’m going to be very honest now, my main contribution has been worry. Worry for the future of the climate, the oceans and rainforests, the animals and plants that inhabit our world, worry for those who live in countries already impacted by drought, sea-level rise, waste and pollution, worry for all the children of the world born into a challenged environment, worry for my son aged 10. These worries have taken me to the brink of despair: to a desperate hollow feeling from which I could not find relief.

By November 2018 I finally acknowledged a simple truth:

“My family’s lifestyle harms the planet and whilst I would love to live a sustainable eco lifestyle in truth the changes required seem totally out of reach and unachievable.”

But then it dawned on me – a simple change of perspective could be the answer. The secret could be 51% harmlessness: being more harmless than harmful. I call it HarmLess51. Suddenly it felt possible to make a difference and exciting to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Suddenly ‘being the change’ seemed achievable! It transformed me from abject fear to utter joy.

I believe every positive action we take counts. It’s about making mindful decisions everyday as to whether what we are doing is harmful or harmless. And if it’s harmful, is there a way we can change/mitigate that action? It is easy to feel overwhelmed and to think that what we do won’t matter - but it’s simply a numbers game. If enough of us try (particularly those living in the West) we will make a difference because we are the biggest consumers.

Many people tell me it’s hopeless because the emerging economies are the biggest polluters. Others tell me not to worry because our children will find the solutions. But sadly the time for apathy has passed. We all need to step up and harm less because incremental lifestyle changes will add up to making a positive difference to the health of the planet and its future. Our future!

“I can’t yet be 100% harm less (I might never even get there) but I can, we all can, seek to be #HarmLess51.”

2019 will be my ‘HarmLess51’ journey and I promise to share it with you – the joys and the tricky bits. I promise to keep it real and honest and relate it to an average family trying to make simple positive changes. If you feel inspired to join me, please do. For those amazing people out there who are ahead of us and live sustainable lives – please add comments below to inspire us with HarmLess ideas. Please can we keep the comments free of ‘judgement’ – rather than criticise each other’s life choices let’s empower each other to make positive change. HarmLess51 is also about being harmless to ourselves and others – we have to work together because it will take a team effort to solve climate change and pollution.

For future Blogs I will also share inspiring or informative videos to keep us motivated. Here is one for you – while I am not suggesting we can all be like Rob (even he admits he’s extreme!) I like the fact that he says:

“I believe that as individual’s each one of our actions matter and that each one of us can have a positive impact on the world.”

Take care of you today and I hope you can do something HarmLess for you and for the planet.

PS In my next Blog I’ll be looking at plastic!

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