10 ways you can change the world today

Changing the world isn’t about a single, grandiose act, it’s about the unglamorous, day-to-day stuff. Jessie Mawson gives you 10 small things you can do today to make the world a little better for everyone.

1. Spend your consumer dollar wisely

A close-up of an iPhone screen displaying the outware.com.au app.
Tools like this make it easy © outware.com.au

Some corporations do bad stuff. And every time we fork over cash, we’re choosing to either endorse that bad stuff, or say, “Hey, screw you world-ruiners. You don’t get my money.”

I like to know who I’m buying from, but can’t be bothered launching a full-scale research project every time I pop into Woolworths. Hence my love for this handy Shop Ethical app.

Better yet, I skip the middleman where possible and buy direct from the farmer through the likes of Ooooby.

2. Know who’s looking after your money (and what they’re doing with it)

A round money box painted green, with painted florals and owls on it.
Who’s looking after your money? © Flickr / Adelle & Justin

Call your bank and super fund and ask them whether your cash is invested in dodgy stuff (like weapons, tobacco, fossil fuels, etc). Keep asking questions until you’re satisfied.

If you’re still not satisfied, do like me and move your money to an ethical super fund like Australian Ethical and a member-owned bank like Bank MECU.

Warning: This can involve some paperwork. And some effort. But you only need to do it once – and your great great grandchildren will want to high five you for it.

3. Give a percentage of your income to charity every year

A photograph of a wall of graffiti that says '80% of the world's wealth is controlled by 20% of the people'.
Help fix the inequity © Flickr / Duncan C

Extreme poverty. Climate change. Political prisoners. Civil war. All massive, scary problems.

But it’s hard to know what to do about this stuff, other than feel depressed.

One thing we can all do is commit to giving a set percentage of our annual income to charity (Peter Singer says that between 1% and 10% is about right).

Do some research to help you decide which organisations should receive your donation. Remember to check out Amnesty’s site where you can set up a simple monthly debit.

4. Give blood (and your organs, when you’re done with them)

Swirls of red shaped into hearts on a white background
Give blood © Flickr / MattysFlicks

There are a few reasons why you mightn’t be able to donate blood (full disclosure: I’m on a giving-blood-break after a couple of of fainting incidents) but most people find they can give blood without a problem.

Make an appointment with the lovely folks at the Red Cross Blood Bank. You’ll probably even score a cup of tea and a biscuit for your trouble.

When I’m done with them, I want my organs to give someone else a second shot at life. That’s why I’ve signed up with DonateLife and made sure my family knows how I feel.

5. Avoid that #NewLandfillFeeling

A photograph of a mountain of waste in a landfill site, set against a deep blue sky.
Landfill is gross © Flickr / Alan Levine

Dunno about you, but when I watch this Telstra ad all I can think about is this.

It’s easy to be fooled into thinking you need the newest, shiniest thing. But, the truth is, ditching your phone (or tablet/TV/whatever) for a new one each year is straight-up environmental vandalism. Not to mention expensive.

At age almost-30, I’ve owned three mobile phones. Ever. So do like I do and wear your daggy phone like a badge of honour. (And when you must upgrade, donate/recycle your old gadgets).

6. Use the interwebz for good

Whatdya know? Turns out the net isn’t all LOLCats!

Between the Facebook stalking and the Bieber memes, we’re probably all guilty of wasting a loooot of time online.

Balance it out by doing some good. The best place to start is on the Amnesty website, where you can take action for people who need your help.

Get involved in our Write for Rights 2018 campaign and join us in defending brave people around the world.

7. Volunteer

Volunteers and activists at the 2015 NSW Youth Conference.
Volunteer with us © Amnesty International / Brendan Riley

Volunteering isn’t just great for the people you help out, it makes you feel awesome!

Some of the best fun I ever had was spending my Saturday mornings at SAIL in Melbourne, helping Sudanese refugee kids improve their literacy skills.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re good at, there are ways to volunteer in your local community.

The Do Something Near You and Go Volunteer sites are a good place to start.

8. Write a letter to your local member of parliament

A person writing a letter
Get writing to your local member of parliament © Amnesty International

Pollies often get a bad rap. But the truth is, most people in public office are truly interested in making life better for their constituents.

But, too often, they only hear from billionaires and lobby groups, instead of ordinary folk like us.

So make the most of Australia’s democratic system. If you feel strongly about something, write to your local member.

9. Love food, hate waste. And recycle.

A close up shot of a fruit stall at a farmer's market in Dallas. The produce featured includes plums, apples, and lemons.
Buy local © Travis Isaacs

This Hungry Beast video makes me want to cry.

That’s why I do everything possible to avoid wasting food. The NSW government has collected some good tips, tricks and recipes on the Love Food Hate Waste website.

And remember – world-changers always use their green bags. (Tim Minchin said it best).

10. Stand up to everyday injustice

A crowd a rally for refugees. The signs in shot say: 'We've boundless plains to share' and 'My friends aren't a security threat!'
Stand up against injustice © Flickr / Takver

Human rights aren’t just something you should believe in – they’re something you should do. For me, this video from Amnesty Belgium is an amazing reminder to live my values.

It may not get us remembered as a human rights hero like Mandela or Malala – but I reckon it’s stuff like this that really changes the world.