Want to get up and do something that matters, but could use a little help getting started? Never fear - we're here to help.
Global Issues, Local Impacts (PDF)
This is the presentation to pull out when someone says 'Why do you care about all this social and environmental stuff anyway?'. It covers the main 8 Otesha themes (food, fashion, money, trade, transport, energy, media and water) and is guaranteed to hold peoples' attention, what with the bright colours and nice photos and all. We find that sometimes it's best to run through just 2 or 3 issues at a time, stopping for lots of discussion as you go along.
The Great Otesha Climate Change & Poverty Quiz (PDF)
This presentation focuses on two of the big underlying challenges that we hope to make better by re-thinking our day-to-day choices: climate change and poverty. We know these big issues can be scary, so this presentation helps introduce the issues to others in an accessible, non-intimidating way.
The Otesha 5 minute lifestyle check-up (PDF)
This short inventory and action pla encourages people to take a look at their day-to-day banking, eating and transport habits, and then get some quick and easy ideas for how to green them up. If you want to encourage people to make small changes in a positive way, this is a good place to start. The sheet works best if you can guide people through the questions and then make them a personal action plan by checking the boxes of the actions that most relate to their lives, but people can also go through the questions on their own. We designed this for 14-18 year olds, but it should work with other age groups too. If you use it, let us know how you get on!
Group functioning & communications
NVC: Our guide to non-violent communication
Jo and Liz took an NVC workshop at the European Social Forum and learnt a ton. We've tried to share as many nuggets of widsom as possible here, although we're definitely not experts in this area!
Tips for White Guys
These tips remind us that working to uncover hidden power structures in society is really central to the work we're doing, because issues around environmental justice, social justice, and equity are completely interconnected. As the tips say, none of us are free until all of us are free. And no, they're not just for white guys - they're relevant for most of the rest of us too.
Holding Meetings (word doc)
Thanks to our friends at Otesha Canada, we've got a fantastic guide to facilitating meetings and making group decisions using a consensus model. If you're part of a group, any group, this is a highly recommended read.
The art of getting stuff done
Tips for campaigners (PDF) This one's a simple sheet that you can read in 5 minutes.
And coming soon...
-Tips on how to set up and run a project
-More about group functioning and communications
More action ideas
If you're looking for inspiration, here are a bunch of things you can get on with right now.
Some will make a small difference & some will make a big one. Whatever thing you decide to do, you're in good company. Thousands of people are already part of this revolution - deciding to actually do something instead of just sitting around talking about it. Together, our impacts really do add up.
But beware: completing items on this list has been known to produce feelings of euphoria, hopefulness and self-satisfaction. So if you're cynical and apathetic and would like to stay that way, you should probably stop right here.
To get started, just choose a theme:
We use most of our water showering, bathing and flushing the toilet. This means that following just the first three ideas here will make a huge difference to the amount of water you use each day.
- Get a hippo for your loo. If you live in London or southeast England, you can get a free hippo for your toilet from Thames Water and save 3 litres of water each time you flush. If you're in Scotland, Scottish Water will give you a free save-a-flush. If you live somewhere else, you can make your own toilet dam really easily by filling up a large jar with a heavy rock and some water, then sealing the lid tightly and dropping it in the back of your toilet (making sure not to block any of the moving parts inside). Or, if you've got one lying around, use a brick instead.
- Suds up responsibly. Install a low-flo showerhead & aim to cut your showering time in half (each minute uses 11 - 20 litres of water!). If you take baths, switch to showers and take that long deserving soak only when you really need it.
- Take staggered showers. While you're soaping up, turn off the tap. Then turn it back on to rinse off. You can even find showerheads with shut-off valves that make this really easy.
- Learn about your bottled water.
- Implement other water-saving devices, like highly efficient dishwashers, low-water use washing machines, and water butts for your garden.
- Let the yellow mellow. If your housemates or family don't mind, try not flushing every single time you pee (especially in the middle of the night!)
- Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. This one's so easy that we can ALL do it today.
- To do even more, follow these tips for saving water.
Luckily, there are a ton of options for people who don't want to support sweatshop labour, pesticides and the unnecessary waste from so much - literally - material stuff.
- Hold a clothes swap party with your friends.
- Buy second-hand clothes from a vintage shop or market.
- Make your own completely original designs. For bonus points, use recycled fabric and source your materials ethically.
- Or, if you'd rather, let someone else make your old worn clothes into something new. Donate them to TRAID and they'll be refashioned into something new, then sold at their charity shops (profits go to international development projects).
- Purchase sweat-free and child-labour-free clothing.
- Buy gear made from sustainable materials, like organic cotton or bamboo.
- Research your favourite clothes shop to see what you like or don't like about their practices. Then write them a letter and tell them so. (A really easy way to do this action is to sign up to The Nag & complete the Rag Nag.)
- Donate to an organization that fights sweatshop labour.
- Make your school sweatshop-free.
- Get the message out: hold a Buy Nothing Day or start a Free the Children club.
Every food choice of every day gives opportunities to make yourself and the planet just a little healthier. Here are a few places to start:
- Buy local , organic and fair trade food.
- Buy in bulk to reduce packaging. If you live in London, go completely unpackaged.
- Grow your own!
- Break your meat dependency. Choose vegan or vegetarian food , eat less meat, or eat free-range organic meat.
- Make waste free lunches by packing food in reusable containers.
- Sign up to a veg box scheme and get fresh local produce (and other goodies) delivered to your door.
- Think twice before you buy genetically modified (GM) foods.
Mass media, advertising and consumer culture permeate everything we do. Even so, there are some pretty simple things we can all do to help get corporate agendas and the things they want us to buy out of our media. For example:
- Divorce your TV, at least for one week a year.
- Read independent media to get a new perspective on the issues covered in mainstream news and to learn about issues that aren't covered at all.
- Do it yourself. Make a blog , ‘zine, film or post your views online to showcase your own perspective.
- Take action to get media education into your school.
It's ridiculously easy to do something about this one. Check out the Fairtrade Foundation website to learn more about the issues surrounding fair trade, the types of products that now come with Fairtrade certification (flowers! spices! footballs!) and where you can find fairly traded products.
Okay, so we've probably heard most of these tips before, but it's still good to be reminded every so often. Here are some quick things we can all do to cut our energy consumption and fight the serious threat of climate change:
- Become a guerrilla energy-saver. When others aren't looking, covertly turn appliances off standby, turn out lights and turn down the thermostat one degree. Chances are, no one will even notice.
- Conserve heating. In the winter, put on a jumper or cuddle with a friend to keep warm instead of turning up the heat.
- Be efficient. Buy energy efficient appliances and lightbulbs
- Get political. Write Gordon Brown to ask him to get tough on climate change (this takes you to the icount website, where you'll have to quickly login to continue)
Here are a few interesting ways to change the way we collect, spent and save our pounds:
- Barter with your friends. Instead of spending money on things like haircuts, books and massages, find people with those skills and trade for services that you can offer. Your German or knitting know-how will never come in more handy!
- Freecycle. Find a group in your area and trade away.
- Put your money somewhere ethical. Bank with a co-operative or credit union instead of a high street bank.
- Free yourself from debt! Cut up that credit card or storecard, and stop consuming more than you earn. If you have to have a credit card, choose one that gives a percentage of profits to a good cause, like the Oxfam Visa card.
- Save resources. Call up your bank and ask to get paperless statements (make sure you're set up with internet banking first!)
- Be an informed consumer. When you buy something, make sure that you know what your pound is voting for.
There are many alternatives to sitting in traffic, breathing in exhaust fumes. Here are a few:
- Jump on your bicycle! Grab some national and local cycle route maps and start pedalling away. If you like to cycle in groups, find your nearest critical mass and join in on the last Friday of each month for a spontaneous ride through the streets.
- Get walking. You can even find walking route maps around London, Edinburgh and Birmingham online.
- Take public transport.
- Share rides. For the times when you need to drive, carshare or join a cooperative car scheme and gain access to pay-as-you-go shared vehicles
- Don't fly if you don't have to! If you only do one thing, do this. When it comes to long-distance travel, one small choice - like taking the train instead of a cheap flight - can make a HUGE difference. Even better, take the bus if you can.
- Lobby for your city or town to become more bike and pedestrian-friendly. Join a local campaign for better transport , or become part of the London Cycling Campaign or the Cycle Campaign Network.
And a small note about waste
Okay, so maybe you're on a roll. Or maybe you've already done everything on this list and are looking for a challenge. In either case, here are a few waste-reducing actions you can take every single day. Think about these as the new and improved "3-Rs":
- Rethink: Do I need this?
- Refuse: "No, I don't need a bag (I brought my own)."
- Restore: Try to fix things instead of just throwing them out.
- Reduce: Get library books instead of buying new ones, and buy vintage clothes instead of new gear. If you're a woman, you can also reduce your waste by buying yourself a keeper, mooncup or luna pads.
- Reuse: Scrap paper, lunch containers, etc.
- Compost: It's like reusing food.
- Then, only when you've exhausted all the other options: Recycle!
Want to do more? There are heaps of other action ideas in the Otesha Book, which you can download for free on the Otesha Canada website.