The planet’s woes can seem overwhelming at times, a depressing cocktail of armed conflict, raging inequality and environmental doom. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you don’t have to buy Bono’s latest charity single to make a difference. Here are five things you can do to help fix the world, without leaving your desk.
1. Online shop for good
Need a new leather wallet? Mum’s birthday coming up? Be a socially conscious consumer by shopping at fair-trade websites that help artisans build sustainable businesses from their crafts. Novica and Oxfam Shop, among others, connect craftspeople around the world – many from rural communities – with the international market. And you get your hands on goods you won’t find in big department stores. For everyday shopping, check out Ethical Consumers Australia and Shop Ethical for advice on how to make consumer choices that are good for the soul.
2. Invest with a conscience
Put your money where your mouth is by investing in companies aligned with your values. Think beyond the bottom line, to how organisations operate from an ethical, social, environmental and corporate governance perspective. That might mean shunning big tobacco and gambling stocks, instead pouring your money into healthcare or sustainable energy. Ethical investment is a growth area, with about $630 billion funds under management in responsible investment portfolios in 2014, according to Responsible Investment Association Australasia. Start by asking your super fund, fund manager, bank or financial adviser whether they offer ethical investment options.
3. Stay in your pyjamas
How could anyone start a war wearing pyjamas? Leaving aside the literal warm fuzzy feeling that comes from staying in your jimjams all day, working from home does the environment a favour, too. Especially if you usually drive to work. Ask your boss to let you work from home regularly. Use teleconferencing and videoconferencing instead of travelling to meetings. Avoid flying where you can. If you must catch a flight, consider offsetting the carbon emissions. Walking, cycling and catching public transport to work are all greener (and cheaper) travel options.
4. Download a smaller carbon footprint
Wise up about your energy use by taking advantage of your power provider’s online tools, apps and tips to help you cut your consumption. Depending on your provider, you might be able to track your energy use on your phone, tablet or laptop – even if you don’t have a smart meter installed at home. For households with smart meters, take advantage of even more detailed information and interactive services to monitor your use in real time and set reduction targets. See how much power that new TV is guzzling, or how much energy your devices suck up in stand-by mode. And wave bye-bye to bill shock.
5. Use people power to bring about change
Harness the power of the interweb to support good causes. Sign petitions on sites such as Change.org and GetUp! – or start your own campaign. Follow organisations on social media to inform yourself and spread the word about their work. Sign up to newsletters, write letters to MPs or enlist your colleagues to donate money, clothes, books or in-kind support. Stuck for ideas? Givenow.com.au is a good place to start. And click your way to a better world.
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