Excerpt: The Joyful Environmentalist

Finally! A book about saving our planet that is fast, funny and inspiring too. The Joyful Environmentalist (published on 14th July) is written in short chapters for busy people, Isabel doesn’t bother with an examination of the problem but gets right on with the solutions. Her aim: to look for every single way we can take care of the planet; how we live and work, travel, shop, eat, drink, dress, vote, play, volunteer, bank – everything. And to do this wholeheartedly, energetically and joyfully. 

What I’m doing is this. I’m looking for every single way that I can help the planet. How we live and work, travel, shop, eat, drink, dress, vote, play, volunteer, bank – everything.

We all want to do what we can to make a difference. But it’s a bit overwhelming – and we’re busy. We either have too many school or university exams, too many bills or way too many humans in our lives. We don’t have many hours in the day spare and few of us are getting enough sleep. So, as with my previous books, I’ve done a little research on your behalf. All you have to do is read and use any of the ideas that you like.

And life is short. So joy is vital. There is a lot of overwhelm around this subject which doesn’t help. Where do you start? The good news is that there is much that we can do. So much. Let’s enjoy changing the way we live and make choices that enhance life for ourselves and for others. Anything less is a disservice to our one brief life and to our beautiful planet.

I’ve written this in a way that will suit those of us who read but now spend more time on social media. It has short bits and long bits. It will suit you if you have small children and so have long since given up hope of being able to sit down for more than ten minutes. Or if you’re intention-rich but time-poor. It has stories, reflections, ideas and, most importantly, every single solution I could find. This is the single-minded focus: solutions. I hope it will be funny in parts and that, for those of us determined to do what we can to love our planet better, it will be useful. It will be a good company if you just want to read two pages at the beginning or end of the day. It’s not a linear journey because everything connects to everything. Instead, the sections build together, like a jigsaw, to make a picture and a plan.

Please read with a pen or a pencil. Be sure that your writing implement is made of metal or wood and not of plastic. No one needs a home with 32 plastic biros. Those days are gone. You’ll see. It will become a habit. Anyway, with your beloved non-plastic writing implement, please feel free to underline. To cross things out. To find me wrong. To find something useful and draw a star in the margin. You even have my permission to turn over the corners of pages. Please steal my ideas. Make them better.

So that’s the ‘joyful’ bit. As to being an environmentalist – who or what is one of those? Wangari Maathai? Jane Goodall? David Attenborough? Greta Thunberg? The dictionary defines an environmentalist as ‘a person who seeks to improve the quality of the natural environment and to protect it from harmful human activity.’ If you’re holding this book you probably recognized yourself in the title. That’s you. That’s me. That’s all the sane ones who live on this earth.

And why do we need to practise without preaching? Surely I’m preaching here, you ask? Ha – well spotted. Yes, I am, but there is a difference between solicited advice and unsolicited advice. If we preach to others by giving advice that people haven’t asked for or telling others what they should and shouldn’t be doing, we are likely to lose friends and alienate people. Most importantly, because humans are often perverse, (lots of overgrown teenagers around), this is unlikely to create what we need – which is a major change in the way that we think and live. What we can do is put our own house fully in order – our own life – and this book has some ideas as to how you can do that.

Don’t be discouraged by people saying your actions are just a drop in the ocean. What’s an ocean except for millions upon millions of drops? And if you’ve ever seen a stalactite or a stalagmite, you’ll know small drops can produce spectacular results.

You are an environmentalist. One who wants to be part of the solution. We are many. We are millions.

Ten New Plastic Products Sold to Us on Social Media This Year

Oil companies have spent $180bn in the last seven years finding new products that we need to buy. Here are ten of the items they have created and promoted, all of which have arrived in my feed this year on social media in an attempt to get me to hit the ‘buy’ button.

  1. A plastic pram for pushing a watermelon – includes chiller to keep your melon cool. £130
  2. A plastic contraption for hard boiling eggs without the shell. You take the eggs out of their shells, put them into an egg-shaped container which you then place in boiling water. £14
  3. A seat with an attached step that fits over your toilet so that your toddler can climb up the one step to sit on the loo safely. Comes in pastel pink or pastel blue so your child knows what sex he or she is. £26.58
  4. A doormat made of plastic which is apparently superior to a normal doormat. (However, unlike traditional doormats, will never biodegrade.) £90.72
  5. A plastic Dust Daddy attachment for a vacuum cleaner with strands to suck up ‘delicate objects’ – like leaves and dust on books (as if a normal attachment wouldn’t do the job). £10.99
  6. A plastic egg to hold your soap powder in your washing machine. Marketed as an ‘eco egg’ – although quite what is ‘eco’ about an unnecessary plastic egg isn’t clear. £9.82. Buy a different one for your dryer too. £9.99
  7. A ‘mascara shield’: a piece of plastic shaped to go over your eye so that you don’t get mascara on your eyelid when you are applying it. £6.89
  8. An eyeglass cleaner on a plastic stick (cleans both sides of your glasses at once) to save you using a cloth. £8.34
  9. A ‘toothbrush of the future’ that is made entirely of thermoplastic. Says it’s recyclable – it certainly isn’t biodegradable. $12 in the US.
  10. An intimate shaping tool – a piece of plastic that you put between your legs to shave your pubic hair into a heart shape, a downward arrow or an exclamation mark. £14.95

Isabel Losada is the bestselling author of six previous books including The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment.  Find out more at isabellosada.com; find Isabel Instagram at @isabeljmlosada and Twitter at @IsabelLosada.

The Joyful Environmentalist will be published on July 14th, click here to pre-order.