Sure, you could just spend World Kindness Day picking at your nail polish and staring at the clock. Or you could save society as we know it.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all team up to make the world a better place?
If, the next time our train was delayed, we didn’t send a capslocked tweet to South Eastern railways, reprimanding them for their shoddy service. If we made cups of tea for our interns, rather than raising an eyebrow when they’re too terrified of speaking up to offer. If we smiled at strangers, gave 50p to the homeless man who plays the violin by the bus stop (without questioning whether or not he’s going to put it in his piggy bank labelled ‘drugs’) and could change the subject when a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend starts bitching about a person that actually, you secretly quite like.
If sometimes we did the washing up for our flatmates, and didn’t tell them why, or when, or whether you expect them to do the same for you. If we ‘moved down inside the train’ without having to be yelled at by the poor man who really just wants to make it home for tea. If we tipped waitresses more when they seem grumpy, because that probably means they’re just having a rubbish day, and if we learned to refill the printer paper tray when it runs out, rather than awkwardly looking around, scuttling guiltily back to our desks and selecting the one on the other side of the office. If we put our Leon fish finger wrap wrappers in the bin, and carried our shopping in cotton tote bags, and told the woman on the beach in the bikini with an uncertain expression on her face that she looks fucking awesome – and where did she buy that sarong.
Well you could. Which is why we’ve researched ten of the easiest, simplest, no-excuse-not-to-do-immediately acts which would make the world a better place…
TURN THE TAPS OFF
It doesn’t matter if you live in deepest darkest Argyll, where the sunniest day of the year features an afternoon rainstorm and your house is located two metres from a loch and five miles from the sea – you still need to save water. Brushing your teeth doesn’t actually require both of your taps to be on. Neither does washing your face. Washing your hair / armpits / kneecaps might – but probably not for more than 15 minutes, max. If you really want to make the world a better place, you need to reduce your impact on the world’s resources. That also means cycling and walking wherever possible, using renewable energy if you can (those solar-mobile phone chargers are amazing, by the way), and recycling anything-and-everything that you come across which can possibly be recycled.
No, not that way. To make the world a better place, you need to care about the world enough to participate in it. It’s all very well rolling your eyes at the current government, spluttering over budget cuts and debating in the pub about the need for shared parental leave for all employees – but unless you exercise your right to vote, you don’t have any say in the matter. Yes – change can be slow. And yes – few parties come with manifestos that you can support from beginning to end. But small change is better than no change at all. If you disagree with our current electoral system, sign up for electorial reform! If you hate one of Labour’s policies, but love the rest of them, join the party and make a bid to change it! Similarly, unless you inform yourself about what’s going on in the world, you’re going to struggle to make any lasting, meaningful impact upon it. Plus, you’re much more likely to win those pub debates. So buy a newspaper. Stat.
LOVE YOUR FLAT
Sure, maybe your bedroom has a wall that turns black with damp during the winter months. Maybe there’s a hole in your bathroom ceiling, and you sometimes spend your morning shower checking for hidden CCTV. Perhaps your flatmate is a massive racist. But unless you love the place where you live, you’re going to struggle to find the motivation you need to make the world a better place. Spend some time getting to know your neighbours – asking to borrow a cup of sugar might be a painfully Stepford approach, but next time your wifi goes down, knock on their door and ask if you could use theirs for five minutes instead. Research has shown that people who feel part of their local communities make a more positive impact in their respective areas. Plus, it really helps next time you forget your keys.
WORK FOR FREE
We’re not about to get into a debate about the pros and cons of interning. But as a general rule of thumb, we should all be a lot less stingy with our time when it comes to helping out other people without financial gain. Charities such as the Good Gym combine working out with doing good (think running 5k to deliver groceries to people who can’t leave their homes, or replacing a body pump class with clearing out areas of wasteland) or, if breaking a sweat is one good turn too far, and eating biscuits and talking to grannies is more your cup of tea – check out the Dorcas Befriending Project.
MAKE LIKE SANTA
A puppy may not be just for Christmas, but neither is giving a present in the first place. Whether it’s a card with handwritten note inside to make your friend feel warm and fuzzy on the inside – and make you feel confused about how quickly your penmanship has gone downhill since high school – or an invite to a party when your colleague’s Friday night plans have gone awry, you don’t have to spend half your salary on making somebody know that you’re thinking of them. You don’t even have to do battle with a sellotape dispenser in an attempt to wrap something up.
GIVE TAMPONS TO STRANGERS
(Clean ones, obviously.) For millions of women all over the world, sanitary products are entirely inaccessible – leaving them forced to reuse bits of old cloth, moss, or packages of earth wrapped in rags. As a result, they live in risk of infection – and are often unable to continue going to school once they hit puberty because they’re encouraged to stay at home during menstruation. That’s why so many charities believe that tampons and pads are some of the most useful things that you can donate to developing countries. Hold a local tampon drive at home or at work, or donate £3 to Plan UK to help women across the world.
Just smile, goddamn it. Right now, stretch your lips and tighten your facial muscles and smile. Now, look up from your computer / tablet / mobile, and do the same thing at the first person you see. Maintain eye contact for two seconds.
There you go. The world is already a better place.
FINISH YOUR LUNCH…
Remember the days when your mum told you to eat all of your main meal before you got any pudding? Turns out, she had a point. We throw away seven tonnes of food from our homes every single year – and 50 per cent of all food waste is personal (I.e. it’s not from restaurants, or shops, or events). This is the equivalent of wasting £60 per household per month – and just think of what you could have done with that money instead. But it gets worse – because the carbon emissions caused by producing – and wasting – that much food are sky high. And if we were to stop throwing away seven tonnes of gone-off-avocados and leftovers-that-just-didn’t-look-that-good-the-next-day-after-all, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent to taking a quarter of all UK cars off the roads.
…BUT LEAVE THE HAM
You don’t have to go #meatfree on a daily basis, but if you cut your animal-intake, you’ll be helping to make the world a better place in a million, trillion different ways. We won’t go into every single one of them now, but essentially, over a billion people go hungry every day – but livestock intended for eating take up nearly a third of the planet’s surface. Cutting down on our meat consumption will not only help feed the hungry, but it would lower carbon emissions, help prevent deforestation, and force you to go to Whole Foods and stock up on some organic quinoa. Which may not taste quite as nice, but will definitely make you feel like the third Hemsley sister. And that’s always fun.