A quirky little find published way back when the environment was still a foreign concept to most of us, Change the World for a Fiver was originally printed in 2004. The 50 actions it advances through its colourful and fun pages are still very much relevant in their content as well as in their design, and although today some of the advice given seems obvious, the book serves to act as a reminder of the small things we should all be doing as well as other helpful hints on how to improve the planet but also how to better our world on the whole. If you are a keen traveller, you should be among the first to pay attention and if you haven't done so far, then here's your chance to take some of the book's tips onboard, or sadly there will soon be no world left to explore - a reality that is taking shape slowly but surely. We only have to look at the sinking of low-lying land like the Maldives, or the erosion of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where the changes are severe.
Published by the charity, Community Links, the book was put together as part of the project, We Are What We Do, which is aimed at tackling the causes of social exclusion in east London and sharing the local experience with practitioners and policy makers nationwide. As per the charity's motto, 'We believe in acting local and thinking global', this little book is perfect for the lazy traveller who cares about the environment and wishes it wouldn't be so hard to conserve it. The 50 actions put forward in the book just go to show that you don't have to go to great lengths or change your routine completely to make a difference that actually counts.
So do you feel deeply about the environment and want to do something, but you don't know where to start? The solution comes neatly summarised by Mahatma Ghandi: 'We must be the change we want to see in the world'. And he was right. Except that we seem to be becoming a different kind of change, one that is apple-shaped, android-shaped, car-shaped - and it's spiralling out of control. As we succumb to pressures from clever marketing ploys that tap into our unconscious, digging an illusionary need in each and every one of us, society falls. And with it, so does the environment. Before we crash, draw out the fall for as long as possible and boost your happiness levels at the same time. Recycle your phones (www.fonebak.org), watch less TV, put your chewing gum in the bin, grow something, share a bath with someone you love, and smile back at the world that smiles at you, as you choose to be empowered.
The book not only acts as a reminder of the simplest tips we have all heard a million times before, but it also tells us about the simplest ways of making a difference in society as well as the environment, which is a greatly underestimated aspect when embarking upon changing the world. Despite the multiplied ways of communicating that have emerged compared to a decade ago when Facebook and Twitter didn't exist, and mobile phones were still bigger than a handbag, we have paradoxically become further estranged from one another, which has resulted in a fragmented sense of community. The book reminds us to strengthen links with one another, to 'Talk to old people - they know cool stuff you don't' and to 'Talk to young people - they know cool stuff you don't', but also to smile back at a smile, to write to someone who has inspired you, learn to be friendly in other languages and have more meals 'together'. Simple reminders to reinstating somesort of community spirit, starting at home. These simple are the first step to making you feel empowered while also providing a positive example for others to follow. For £5, which is the price of the book, you really can change the world wherever you are and no matter what you're doing - it doesn't have to be an overwhelming feat and this handy little book shows you exactly where to start.
Average price: £5.00