According to a 2019 report from Imperial College London, a very important factor in mitigating climate change is changing our individual lifestyles, but this goes beyond reduce, reuse, recycle.
The world seems to be waking up to the need to protect the environment. Already, we have seen EU-wide policies like the banning of single-use plastics and many are making the choice to consume more consciously, from choosing brands with a lower environmental impact and limiting waste to reducing animal products and plastics to a minimum.
“Most people are not against protecting the environment,” Iole Damaskinos told the Cyprus Mail, “in fact most people will agree in principle that it is vital to do so. However, the problem arises with embedded lifestyle habits, which once fostered appear impossible to get out of.”
Damaskinos is the founder of Facebook group EcoMamas Cyprus, a platform for eco-conscious mothers aiming to make meaningful changes, starting from their households and expanding outwards.
The group was created out of a need to start a conversation around environmental issues in Cyprus, Damaskinos said. “Shocked, disturbed and saddened” after witnessing the effects of pollution and carelessness on the Cypriot landscape after returning from living abroad.
“I felt it was inexcusable and unconscionable for adults, particularly us mothers, to allow our children and youth of Cyprus to fight alone and unsupported for what is after all a fundamental right to grow up in clean, green, sustainable, cared-for Cyprus,” she said.
Though it may seem that Cyprus is not particularly eco-conscious, Damaskinos said that there is a growing consciousness around sustainability on a grassroots level.
“Though I would of course wish for it to be growing faster, this environmental consciousness is here and it is powerful, manifesting in countless ‘micro-cultures’ of the island: permaculture enthusiasts, plastic waste-reduction groups, food waste reduction groups, educators in schools, public clean-up campaigns, animal protection groups and various truly wonderful, high quality small local businesses committed to using eco-friendly, and largely locally sourced ingredients and materials for their products,” Damaskinos said.
The group’s aims are multifaceted but they are centred on the idea that women – and in this case mothers – hold most of the decision-making power in the household. This includes not only deciding what products to spend money on and what food to cook, but also in cultivating healthy habits and even influencing the education system.
“The sooner a child learns that ‘this is just how we do things’, the more it just becomes a healthy habit, really. Like brushing one’s teeth,” Damaskinos said.
Asked what mums, or anyone really, can do to adopt a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, Damaskinos pointed out two important actions. First, she proposed setting a goal of introducing a new sustainable habit to the household every week or month. The second and most important recommendation was to join a community of like-minded people.
With the goal of making Cyprus “the greenest island on the Mediterranean”, EcoMamas Cyprus is ready to welcome mums wanting to make a difference, help them find a community and share insight on adopting a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
“No one has all the answers to everything, no one is an expert on ‘living sustainably’,” Damaskinos said. “We are all learning from and getting inspired by each other all the time. Sharing information and building a caring, supportive and joyful grassroots community, which has intellectual integrity, is a key part of normalising sustainable living on our island.”
Join EcoMamas Cyprus on Facebook