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Building Bridges by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante    

Good will to all in 2023

Things that you do can help the world

by Cheryl Dizon-Reynante

In 2022, we witnessed numerous events in countries that had ripple effects across the entire globe. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, citizens in China were put under strict lockdown measures, which impacted the country’s export of goods. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put into the spotlight the threat to democracy and worries about international relations. This event has nations reconsidering the significant usage of Russian gas in Western countries.

We also saw positive change in 2022, including advances in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and climate change research. Animal species that were on the endangered list have increased again in numbers, including bison in England and rhinos in Mozambique.

It is important to realize that with every devastating event comes change, and yes, we must grieve these losses. However, with change comes the opportunity to take action and do better. Governments and world leaders are called upon to drive change for the overall good. And just as important, we as individuals have a direct impact on those around us and have the potential to have a positive effect on people in other countries that we will never meet.

Consider this. If you choose to always carry with you a reusable drink container, you will no longer purchase and use containers that will be thrown into the garbage. This will save you money and result in less garbage in our landfills because let’s face it – not everything gets recycled! This is the direct impact locally. But think of poorer countries who often must deal with our choices. Let’s not forget that 103 shipping containers of trash left Vancouver and landed in the Philippines in 2013-2014. Sixty-nine of the containers were eventually shipped back to Canada in 2019 and we know that at least some remained in landfills in the Philippines, affecting the children and citizens who live there. It is possible that we personally contributed to some of that garbage that landed halfway around the world!

You may say to yourself, “But I’m only one person. What can I possibly do?”. Change has to start with a different way of thinking. Consider changing your mindset to “I am a person who has the ability to take care of others and I will have a great impact. Here are the things that I can do!” Here is a list of calls to action that are within your control:

Buy less

A helpful hint is to ask yourself, “Do I need this or do I want this?” If you can live without it for the next month, put it down and out of your mind. Know that advertisements from companies want us to feel like we need their product, when, in reality, we don’t.

Eat a green-friendly diet

Meat production (farming and feeding cows, pigs, goats, and chickens) contributes to climate change. To improve your own and your family’s health, eliminate meat or eat very little of it. This will lower your risk of obesity, cancer, and heart disease, among other illnesses. Fill your plate with mostly vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and legumes (e.g., chickpeas and lentils). Buy from local sources when you can.

Eliminate the use of plastic

Make simple choices: Carry a reusable coffee mug or drink container, use reusable lunch containers instead of plastic bags, and make your own cleaning products.

Cook meals at home

Not only is this a money saver, but you will also eliminate the use of plastic bags, utensils, and drink containers. Your meals will be fresh and have less salt and additives in it. Also, making a meal and enjoying it together brings families closer.

Reduce the amount of water you use

A lot of energy, chemicals and money go into treating and pumping water. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Try simple steps such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing the dishes. Take shorter showers and invest in eco-friendly appliances that use less electricity and water.

Reduce how often you use your vehicle

A significant amount of climate change is due to the use of road vehicles. Most pollution from cars and trucks come from burning fuel; so, use your vehicle less. This can be done by biking, walking, or taking the bus. Consider buying a fuel-efficient, hybrid or electric vehicle. You can also help by planning your errands carefully and going to places that are close to home.

Conserve power

Small actions that will have a big impact include turning off your computer and lights when not in use, reducing the amount of heat and air conditioning that you use. Don’t leave your car running if you are waiting outside for someone. Consider hanging your clothes to dry during the summertime rather than using the dryer.

According to the United Nations, our planet is expected to warm up to approximately 2.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. This will lead to more global devastation than we are already seeing today including storms, droughts, forest fires, floods, hurricanes and typhoons.

Your call to action

Here is an invitation to help others in 2023: Choose three of the above ideas to try and know that this will help others close to where you live and across the world!

Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is a licensed therapist with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

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