Writer, blogger and environmental campaigner Julien Vidal aims to share the joys of helping to fight for the planet. In his two books Ça Commence Par Moi and Ça Va Changer Avec Nous, he demonstrates that each and every one of us can contribute to triggering the changes that will help bring about a better future.
Can you talk us through your journey so far?
I’m a reformed eco-warrior. I used to preach and tell others how to live their lives, without doing much myself. Then I spent a few years in Colombia and the Philippines and experienced a shift in outlook. I went from being intellectually aware, to feeling the urgency deep within me. On the other side of the world, I saw people suffering directly from the consequences of economic imbalances and climate change. The situation cannot continue. Our present system is endangering life across our planet. And we aren’t doing anything to stop it. I threw myself into writing Ça Commence Par Moi with a view to aligning what I practice and what I preach. My second book, Ça Va Changer Avec Nous, has just been published.
What is Ça Commence Par Moi about?
It’s about moving beyond a ‘yes but…’ mindset.
As consumers, our power isn’t just restricted to turning off dripping taps or switching off the lights when we leave a room. The idea was to start thinking ambitiously and taking an eco-citizen approach, reducing my own carbon footprint in 365 challenges.
In a year, my carbon footprint was ten times lower, and my bin ten times smaller. I also consumed six times less water.
So the experience was akin to practical, everyday eco-citizen challenges?
It’s an ambitious undertaking that allows me to inspire positive change, changing the people around me without even trying, by focusing on my own actions, by leading by example and with a positive outlook. I got rid of all the futile clutter society pushes us to buy throughout the year, and replaced it all with joy, purpose and meaning. This positive impact spilled over to impact on the people around me and beyond, thanks to the first book, in which I recount my first experiment. The Ça Commence Par Moi website allowed me to reach out to a million people last year. My second book* is a strategic toolbox that gives people everything they need to become influencers in their own right, and to generate as much change as possible among the people they know.
I wanted to show that you can be fulfilled through the experience of ‘being’ rather than ‘having’.
What’s the most pointless thing you managed to get rid of?
I dreamed of owning a Ducati Monster. I spent hours on specialist forums researching which one I would buy. We’re conditioned to find pleasure in the act of possessing. This is a fleeting, passing feeling that soon gives way to the frustration of always wanting more. Happiness, on the other hand, is unconditional, infinite and so much more intense when shared. That’s something I learnt through the experience that’s continuing on as we speak. By changing my behaviour and habits, I embraced new ones. And these changes make me happy, too. Which is just another bonus.