How to have more impact?

How to have more impact? - Candy (Leong) Hio Lam, Jan. 2020.

Keywords: Changing habits - Food

In my opinion positive impact means doing something, that results in an action which benefits the society. The action could be however small or large. As long as it results in making a change.

On the topic of positive impact (to the environment), the last time I’ve made a positive impact was yesterday. I’ve committed myself to a vegetarian diet yesterday and I believe that has made a positive influence. I have always tried to switch to vegetarian but it seems I often experience a crash and so I have learnt how to be patience and pace myself.

Growing up in a household where meat is required in every meal e.g. Ham sandwich for breakfast, chicken breast with mash potatoes and gravy for lunch, chicken/beef/pork with vegetables and rice for dinner. It would seem to remove meat out my diet would be quite challenging (not to mention the stigma attached to become vegetarian). Hence, I have tried a combination of the following: Quorn meat, tofu, falafels and other vegetarian substitutes. But what makes this difficult, is the price for non-meat food are far more expensive than cheaply processed meat... Which is absurd to me. And that’s when I started to question. Why should food that makes a positive impact on the environment be monetised? Whereas, highly processed meat, containing chemicals and toxin are set at a price where the money allowance of a 13-year-old kid could purchase. Apparently, food that nourishes our body, as well as the society, is a luxury as opposed to a necessity.

On the topic of becoming sustainable, the common misconception many people have is that they must give up meat. And that is not true. Giving up meat is one of the ways to become sustainable but there are many more ways to do so. Consequently, this leads to my challenge for this club. Originally, I have decided to make sustainability a trend. And my original idea is to create an interactive app that tracks how sustainable they are (in visible points/ or C02 emission). I want to create an addictive app that engages the user, similar to how smartwatches track how many steps the user has taken per day. But this has been proven to be quite complex. Hence, at the time of writing this, I’m still pondering whether to make this into an app or reformat the app idea into a 30-day sustainable living challenge (can be a picture). The challenge is designed for those that are curious about becoming sustainable but are hesitant to make a change. My idea is to make a simple challenge per day for the user. Forinstance, Day 1 could be skip using/ purchasing/ consuming plastic bottled drinks for 24 hours. The following day could be picking up 2 pieces of trash from the streets and throwing it in the bin. After doing per challenge, the app or somewhere on the picture should notify the user of the benefits of their actions but in a simplified way e.g. ‘Well done! You have prevented 10 pigeons from consuming plastic’ rather than ‘You prevented x amount of Co2 % released into the air’.

My motivation for creating this is due to those around me. When discussing topics like becoming more sustainable they think that it would require a lot of energy to make a positive contribution. But like I said at the beginning, what constitutes a positive impact isn’t measured by its quantity but by what effect it creates. It is true simply skipping plastic bottle for a day reduces plastic consumption, but it could also be the start of something big, similar to the butterfly effect. As long as my challenge could inspire people that were hesitant to try, even for just one day, I consider it as a positive impact.

Furthermore, three things that I could do to have a positive impact could be: reduce time taken to shower, turn off lights when leaving room and consider whether if I need to print papers before printing. These three challenges are the first of many steps that would allow me to gradually change and monitor my lifestyle.