If 2016 taught me one thing, it’s that money is not a big motivating factor for me.
I don’t mean that as a look-how-well-I’m-doing kind of humblebrag. Nor am I about to denounce all material possessions, burn my bras and join the Himba tribe. I bring it up because whenever somebody tells me how lucky I am to make a decent living as a blogger, all I can muster is a half-smile.
I realise that must sound incredibly ungrateful. I get to travel the world and get paid for it. What could possibly be missing?
Had I figured out the answer sooner, I would have written this blog post a long time ago. But this was not the kind of problem that could be solved overnight. In fact, for most of the year I didn’t even know I had a problem to begin with.
Sure, I would sit in front of my laptop for hours on end unable to think of a single original thing to write. But I just diagnosed myself with an acute case of writer’s block and went on my merry way.
Days turned into months filled with a vague sense of apathy, takeaway pizza and Netflix marathons. I chalked up my lack of productivity to the ominous grey skies of Glasgow, thinking things would get better as soon as I got some sunshine. They would, too, for a few days at a time.
But it was becoming clear that this was about a lot more than the weather. I was having some kind of quarter-life crisis and absolutely no idea what it was about.
Then, suddenly, the answer leapt out of nowhere like a sparkling Patronus. As most epiphanies do, it came from a completely unexpected place.
Hoping it would kickstart my imagination I’d decided to participate in NaNoWriMo – a project aimed at writing 50,000 words during the month of November. I was sat at home doing research for my dystopian novel, figuring out which catastrophe was most likely to destroy society in the near future. You know, jolly stuff.
I was reading up on deadly hurricanes when it hit me. The worst catastrophe was staring me right in the face… and I was actively making it worse by crisscrossing the globe every chance I got. Yes, I’m talking about climate change.
Before you close this tab and vow never to return to my website now that I’ve clearly become an insufferable hippie, please hear me out.
The truth is, I was as shocked by my realisation as you may be. Ever since I started my blog in 2014 I’ve sincerely believed that I was helping make the world a better place. How could encouraging people to be more adventurous and open-minded be a bad thing?
It turns out my hectic lifestyle has a bigger social impact than I thought. Learning more about climate change and its causes has completely changed the way I think about travel. It seems there is a right way to travel – and that the way I’ve been travelling (and encouraging you to travel) is not it. Waking up in a new country every fortnight feels amazing. But it comes at too high a cost and I no longer feel like I can be just another silent onlooker.
Does this mean I’ll stop travelling? Hell no!
What I will do is travel differently. In many ways this is the end of Girl vs Globe as you know it. It is, however, also the beginning of a very exciting new adventure. What changes should you expect? Here they are…
The first thing I did after learning more about climate change was go vegetarian. Why? According to a World Bank Group study animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of human-caused climate change. Another study states it “only” accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, but that is still more than the exhausts from all transportation – cars, trucks, trains, boats and planes combined.
I can see you tensing up. “Is she going to become one of those annoying evangelists who never shut up about the terrible effects of eating meat?” you think. Yup, I can read minds now. And it’s all because I stopped eating animals and…
Don’t worry, I’m just kidding! Although I’ve decided to become vegetarian I will not here to judge anyone. I might post a statistic here and there, but it’s up to you to determine what you want to eat.
I’ll be honest – it’s a learning process. I still occasionally slip up when eating out as a) I have quite a few food allergies that limit what I can order and b) am a total sushi addict. But I’m very glad to be doing this and determined to eventually become vegan. For once I’m even happy to be lactose intolerant as it means I’ve cut out most dairy already.
What does this mean for you? It means I’ll be finding the most delicious veggie-packed dishes from around the world and supplying you with recipes. I’m so excited for this new chapter of my foodie adventures!
There’s a lot wrong with the way we travel. On the one hand we have CO2 emissions from airplanes, melting glaciers and animal species going extinct. On the other hand there are international hotel chains who don’t contribute to the local economy, pollute the environment and trivialise a country’s culture.
I won’t go into too much detail – this is a story for another time. Besides, I’m sure you get my gist.
But it isn’t all bad. When done right tourism provides jobs for locals, boosts developing countries’ economies and encourages cross-cultural understanding. To do my part and travel more responsibly, here are just a few of the changes I’m making:
- travelling slower
- finding eco-friendly and local accommodation
- taking fewer flights (more trains, buses and road trips)
- trying outdoorsy travel (hiking, camping)
What else am I missing? Any suggestions? I’d love to hear them in a comment below!
Travel isn’t the only industry harming our beautiful planet. Fashion is a huge contributor to climate change. Want examples? I got them. Up to 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce enough textile for one pair of jeans. Who produces those textiles? We can’t say for sure. What we do know is that there are 170 million child labourers around the world, many of whom are working in the fashion industry.
As British journalist Lucy Siegle writes, “brands, retailers and consumers have all become fantastically adept at divorcing fashion from the very fact that it is been made by an army of living, breathing, human beings with resources which are depleting the environment”. Phew.
Luckily I’ve got a solution! For the next three months, I’ll be trying to live off a capsule wardrobe. It’s a simple concept – you select 20-40 items of clothing (including shoes and accessories) and only wear those. I haven’t settled on my final number yet but I’ll keep you posted and take you on this sartorial journey with me.
But that’s not all! I will gradually begin replacing my existing clothes with eco-friendly or vintage alternatives. I’ve put in hours of research and compiled a long list of “green” brands which I will soon share with you. Spoiler alert: it’s not all burlap sacks.
I can’t wait to share this new chapter of my life with you. Are you as excited about it as I am? I sure hope so! I’d love to hear your thoughts (good and bad) and suggestions (good only) in a comment below.
tl;dr: As of 2017, Girl vs Globe will be all about living responsibly – from travel and fashion to food. Images by Anna and Haze.