Everyday actions with ordinary people: Tariq
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
Hi everyone, I'm sorry that this blog is late! It's been a very busy two weeks, but I'm really excited to share this post with you. I am continuing my series looking at the actions of ordinary people. What I love is that everyone has different reasons for caring, and different ways of taking action. Hearing about what ordinary people are doing makes this whole sustainability thing much more accessible to the rest of us ordinary people. I think it brings sustainability into our everyday lives and makes it a possible reality.
So I hope you enjoy reading my interview with Tariq - he's a great friend who is really trying to do what he can to be kinder to the earth. We've been friends for about 5 years and he's someone who never does anything without believing in it first. He does his research and asks questions (many questions... 😉) before going for something. But that means that when he's in, he does it properly. So let's dive into the interview and you can see what I mean! (By the way I forgot to take photos of Tariq...so I definitely stole some from his Facebook...).
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Tariq and I have been in London most of my life but I lived in India for a while. I'm a Christian, and I work at a local church called Kings Church London, doing Production and Communications.
So why do you care about climate change?
The reason I care about climate change is...well there are two things that affect me. There's my faith, which is kind of the importance of taking care of the earth. I believe that God has given us responsibility to take care of the earth and neglecting that responsibility is bad, to say the least. The other side is that, I think irrelevant of what you believe, it is important to take care of the earth for future generations. I think it's a bit selfish to just have fun while you're around and expect others to deal with it later on. Especially because the impact of what you do now has such a long term effect. If we don't do anything about it and make it even worse, then there's potentially irreversible effects that are gonna hurt a lot of people. In our lifetime, but particularly future generations. If you think about your grandkids and their grandkids, and their life...just the stress of surviving potential natural disasters that are caused by the effects of climate change. There's enough research now and enough thought that's gone into this that you can't just ignore it anymore.
What was the biggest thing that convinced you?
I think just seeing the amount of research that there is around the topic. Scientific, peer- assessed research. Not just people putting together statistics to further their own argument. For example a chart with the increase of CO2 relative to the history of it - and there is just the most ridiculous spike right now.
And another thing that impacted me was, I remember a few years ago I was just looking at Google maps. You know, you just have a scroll around trying to have a look at the rest of the world (I mean sure 👀). And you look at Brazil, and literally you can see how much deforestation there is. Now I don't know how much of a contribution that makes to climate change with CO2 and stuff. I know it does but I know there's a lot of other factors. But I think just seeing that it had been entirely green, rainforest that hadn't been touched by humans. And you look at it now and so much of it has been turned into farmland, and has just been completely cut down. Which is crazy.
Also some of the stuff around the mass extinction that is going on right now has impacted me. Yeah, I think it's safe to say we are no longer taking care of the world that I believe God has given us.
What is something that you find challenging?
I think that what I find challenging is the sense of hopelessness around it. I think in the past there were a lot less people, so the impact that an individual person had - including the people around them and the people that that affects - was reasonably substantial. A person could make quite a big difference. Whereas now, I'm not saying you can't, but when you're just one random person in South East London in a city of how ever many million, in a country of how ever many million, in a world of how ever many billion.... If you look at it relative to the last 500 years, the number of people that there are now, it seems so ridiculously out of proportion. It makes you feel helpless.
So I think motivating myself to do something and feeling like I am actually doing something is difficult. Sometimes it's like is it even worth trying. I think that's my main challenge.
So, in light of that (😬), what have you changed or started doing?
I do feel like it does make a difference, just to say. And particularly what I feel is an important part that people neglect when they think about this is that you living a lifestyle impacts the people around you quite heavily. If you choose to ignore this, there are a lot of people who might look to you, especially younger people, who will think "oh that person doesn't care about this so why should I?" And that mindset is quite contagious. So if you affect two people in that way, there is a whole circle around those two people that are also then being affected like that. It's kind of like your faith in a way. If I live out my faith, I'm impacting people in a way that is different. But if I'm not, then what is the point?
So the question was, what am I doing? I think the first thing I did was to take a little step back and just have a little look at what is going on. Then I think the first things are obvious: simple changes you can make that don't heavily impact your life, because those things are like little conveniences you had before that you can just change. So for me one was diet. Every meal felt like it wasn't complete without meat. But then if you look at the research into the amount of energy and time and resources that go into making meat, relative to producing your regular vegetables, it's quite a lot. You're making the vegetables and the grain and stuff to feed an animal, to then eat the animal. It's kind of stupid isn't it? So cutting down on meat is big, but not being so militant on it that you become that obnoxious person who is trying to shove it into everyone's face. So it started off like that for me.
One of the things that I find works well is that I like to be hospitable, so I like cooking for other people and making a vegetarian dish. I think people's issue is that they associate vegetarian food with not tasting good, which isn't the case. You just have to show that. A big thing is making it about the vegetables not about replacing meat. So that helps quite a bit.
What is your next step, or do you want to do more of something?
My next step is to look into clothing and figure out how to buy clothes that have less of an impact on the environment. I haven't done a lot of research into that one, but I don't buy clothes often. I tend to buy a lot in one go when I need them, I don't buy clothes for the sake of it.
My other next step is energy usage. I think I am naturally quite meh when it comes to it. I don't really care too much. I leave stuff on or do stuff that I don't need to do, turn up the heating when it's not actually that cold, that kind of stuff. I think I have been more conscious about it recently, but I want to be more intentional about it. Obviously living with my family, I'd like to get them more conscious about it too. Heating is a big one - my parents didn't know how to use our new heating system, they set it really hot, so I changed it completely so that it didn't use as much energy.
Another thing I'd like to change is food waste, we aren't the best at home. So food waste is something I'd really like to get on top of.
Are you doing anything for Lent?
Have you done anything for Lent in the past?
Nope, sorry. (The timing and idea for this series is slowing crumbling before my eyes...)
What would you tell others is the number one reason to care?
I think it depends on the people. If I was talking to Christians I think there is a very valid point of you have to....if God has asked you to do something and you're intentionally aware that the decisions you're making are going against that, then that's not good. And if you're not a Christian, and you're agnostic or atheist or don't believe in a greater being, then I think if you care about your children or your grandchildren then that's a big reason to care. And another reason is just that it impacts other people - if you're a person that cares about other people then there isn't really a reason not to care about climate change. If you really don't care about other people or anything then I have no advice...
What would your encouragement to others be?
Look into it. I'm guessing if you are reading this blog then to some extent you are looking into climate change. Decide for yourself if you think it is an issue, based on the research you've done. And then don't stress about it, just think about your life and review it. Think about what you can do, what you can change, or if there's something you're doing really well then don't change it. Sometimes you'll find you're already doing some of the stuff that is good. So yeah, I think that reviewing is the biggest thing you can do, take a step back in light of the research and think "what can I do to change?". I think that mindset is the biggest thing, and is the first barrier that people have. I think that if you've got the mindset to review what you can do to do better, even if you are doing better then review that and see what else you can do, and if you care about the issue then I think the rest will take care of itself.
What is your top tip or first step? After they've done research - say they believe in it, are excited about, and want to do something, want to change the world 😉
A practical step, food is a big one. That's the one I connected with the most. It's interesting because it's not just beneficial to the environment, it will probably end up being beneficial to your health as well.
I mean get on board with the whole clothing issue. Reduce the amount of plastic you use. I feel like you'll know all of these - it's just deciding to act it out. There's more than enough resources online to show you ways to be living a life thats environmentally friendly.
But I think food is a good one to start with, it's quite fun as well. It's a nice challenge, especially if you like cooking, to make a meal that tastes great without relying on meat. There are so many different vegetables - that's the thing you don't really get with meat. Meat is like: do you want chicken, beef or pork. Oh you don't want those, well there's some random ones that cost more. Whereas with vegetables they're so cheap relative to meat, and there's so much stuff out there. It's fun to try them out.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and that you feel inspired to research this issue more and review your lifestyle, and, well, change the world 👊🏻.
My next interview will be with a friend talking about climate change and the workplace, specifically looking at plastic waste. I hope you'll be back for that! In the meantime, I hope this blog made you think and that you might review something in your lifestyle and think about what you can do to be kinder to the earth. Together we really can change the world 😉.
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