Has anyone watched a documentary on climate change or veganism and immediately felt an overwhelming sense of doom? 

Recently, I watched a Netflix documentary called Kiss the Ground, which talked about the finite nature of our soil, and its effect on climate change due to the soil’s ability to absorb and recycle carbon. Anyway, I was engrossed. When it ended, I immediately felt like the world was going to end in 60 years, but nothing could be done about it. 

But then, before the credits, they gave us some simple actions that could make a difference. Instead of feeling doomed, I felt hopeful and energized, immediately starting to plan my home vegetable garden and orchard and googling the best composting system. 

This was how Alex Tylee, owner and chef at the infamous Pipi Café, felt after listening to a TED Talk by Al Gore. The line that hooked her was, “What will you tell your children when they ask what you did?” 

At the same time, Alex had been watching her country garden slowly dry up after seasons without sustainable rain, constantly wondering whether to fight nature and use up precious water or leave them to their fate. Alex then drowned herself in climate change literature, trying to find the answer. Every book told her that if we don’t do something radical in the next few years it would be impossible to turn this thing around. 

The scientific concepts behind climate change are nothing but frightening, and although most nations have the knowledge and ability to fix the problem (and the money, if we changed our priorities), we still need the manpower. It’s amazing what people can achieve when they set their minds to it, but we can’t all expect to have the strength of a mother lifting a car off a child. 

What we can do, is be civilians called to arms, much like the people of Ramsgate, when 850 private boats sailed to Dunkirk to save the soldiers. This can be our Operation Dynamo. 

This is about where Alex met George. 

George Miller is co-founder and director of Mogul, an internet marketing agency. Alex went to George to create a platform to mobilise the civilian army. She wanted to help our community understand that every little thing counts, and for people to start to engage with the problem and become part of the solution rather than just hoping it will go away. 

Together, they decided that regardless of the medium, a website or a Facebook page, they needed to create a space where people could go to get suggestions on how to do less. Just like I felt at the end of one of the many climate change documentaries out there, we’re always looking for a small actionable step we can take to make a difference. 

Alex likens Project DO LESS to the women that knitted socks, and worked in factories during the war. They didn’t have to be on the frontline to help the fight, and we don’t have to be scientists, politicians, or even activists to make a difference in climate change. We don’t have to change laws or do TED talks, we can just turn off our lights, flush less, and use up our leftovers. Project DO LESS wants us to know that by just doing less together, we will have a big impact.

Alex and George want us to go back to the old days where everyone washed their plastic bags and it was cool to be thrifty. In fact thrift shopping is now so popular, it often costs more than buying new. But let’s make cycling to work that cool. Let’s make leftovers better than takeaways, and let’s get our whole community involved. Why not dream big! This same documentary that talked about the impending doom of soil nutrient depletion, also showed the entire city of San Fransisco getting involved in a composting programme, that reduced waste and helped replenish the soil quality. 

While Project DO LESS is giving us small steps to reduce waste and reverse climate change, Alex and George hope that one day soon, communities will have DO LESS days or even become DO LESS towns or cities. If we all follow Project DO LESS on Facebook and make a promise to do less each day, no matter how small, then maybe we can turn this thing around. So rally the troops, there are lots of resources online, and with a little inspiration from Project DO LESS, we can end up doing more for the environment.

While the new idea of a ‘lockdown’ is difficult for businesses, it’s definitely taught us some valuable lessons. We’re forced to slow down, and we’re reminded that we can still celebrate and show our love for people without buying them presents and going out for dinner.

Last Easter we had an amazing brunch in the garden, and decorated the table with things from around the house. We hosted birthday parties via Zoom which meant more people could be together. This year, when Father’s Day came around, we planted trees at a social distance. 

Project DO LESS: https://projectdoless.nz https://www.facebook.com/projectdoless/

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