Climate change is one of the most important issues that the world is facing today, and it’s starting to seem like there is nothing left that we can do about it. It’s all too easy to be ignorant and assume that we can leave it to scientists and researchers to come up with some kind of magic solution. However, the fight against climate change isn’t in their hands – it’s in yours. Everyone needs to start making small changes in their lives to start to look after the planet. Here are eight small things that you can do to make your life more environmentally friendly to make a difference in the fight against climate change.
1. Adjust Your Diet
Animal agriculture is the leading source of carbon dioxide emissions. It takes 2400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat. Every six seconds, an acre of the rain forest is cut down for farming purposes; around 14,400 acres each day. That is over 5 million acres a year. These figures are astounding and appalling and it’s time that we start doing something about it.
Adjusting your diet to reduce your contribution to climate change doesn’t mean you have to immediately go vegan or vegetarian; start with making small changes, like having two meat-free days a week, or making small alternatives in your meal to switch out animal products. Try using oat milk rather than dairy milk in your coffee or cereal which uses much less water to produce, and avoids using animal agriculture.
Small changes like this in your diet are hardly noticeable but they make a huge difference environmentally. According to PETA, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and ate vegan food instead, it would have the same environmental effect as taking 500,000 cars off the road.
2. Switch Your Energy Supplier
Energy suppliers sourced by renewable energy didn’t use to be a feasible option for anyone with a small budget for their household bills. Luckily, this is starting to change. A lot of energy firms are starting to go green, using solar or wind energy – some are even promising to pay to set off customers’ carbon emissions. Although it is difficult, and very expensive, to go completely green with your energy supplier, even choosing a company that uses partially renewable energy is a good start in tackling climate change.
Look into the tariffs available from suppliers to get a good idea of how green the energy is, and how much you’ll be charged. Companies such as Bulb, Ecotricity and Green Star Energy are good green providers to take a look at.
3. Reduce and Reuse Before Recycling
One of the first things that come to mind when we think about environmentalism is recycling. People who make a conscious effort to recycle have become almost synonymous with environmentalists, which is not entirely true. Don’t get me wrong, recycling is great; but it should be a last resort rather than your sole act of planet-saving environmentalism.
Recycling does not decrease waste. But reducing and reusing does. What’s one step up from recycling your plastic water bottles? Not using any in the first place. The same goes for plastic shopping bags, straws, and almost any other single-use plastic – just don’t use them.
If it’s too late to reduce something, re-use. Take a look at your box of recyclables at home before you throw them into the green bin and presume their disappearance to mean your environmental duty is done. Is there anything in there that doesn’t really need to be thrown out? What can you repurpose? Maybe the plastic box can be a plant pot, or the Pringles tube can be a speaker. Be creative.
4. Buy Your Clothes Second Hand
Fast fashion is another leading source of human waste and climate change contributor. Quick and cheap clothing production is problematic in terms of its high contribution to carbon emissions, the amount of water used in production and the extortionate amount of waste that fast fashion produces. The temptation of buying inexpensive, one-time-wear clothes for certain holidays or occasions is strong, but the social and environmental costs are too high.
There are a lot of sustainable clothing brands that are starting to gain traction as awareness of climate change starts to grow, however, these are not always completely budget-friendly. Instead, try second hand. Thrift stores, charity shops, vintage markets – these are all great places to find amazing clothes that don’t have such a negative impact on the environment and will save you some money.
5. Think About Your Transportation
Whether it’s your morning commute or a trip across continents, every journey you make affects climate change. Firstly, think about your local journeys – trips you take every day, or every weekend that you could alter to be more environmentally friendly. The main action you can take here is simply trying to walk or cycle more. If a journey is walkable, don’t use unnecessary transport.
However, when you can’t travel on foot, make a conscious effort to reduce the carbon emissions produced by your vehicle. If you travel by Uber, for example, try using UberPool – this allows you to share lifts with other users travelling in the same direction. Not only does this save you money, but it makes journeys more efficient, reduces the number of cars on the roads, therefore reducing carbon emissions.
One of the biggest changes that you can make to reduce your carbon footprint, is to reduce the number of flights that you take. Air travel is one of the leading contributors to carbon emissions, and despite the era of £15 RyanAir flights, it’s important that we consider other ways to travel. If you’re travelling within land, try to go by bus or train rather than flying. It may take longer but the difference in carbon emissions is astronomical. Trains can be more expensive, but buses are often incredibly cheap for long-haul journeys, so this is not only a climate change tackling change you can make, but you’ll also be saving money.
6. Avoid Using A Dryer
The average tumble dryer uses around 1.8kg of CO2 in just one cycle. But even in a rainy climate, it is so easy to go without one and dry your clothes naturally. This is such a small change to make in your life that can massively reduce your carbon footprint without you even noticing. In good weather, you can hang your clothes out to dry, but even in the face of bad weather, you can still avoid using the dryer. Instead, try using an airer to dry your clothes. Again, this is not only less impactful on the environment, but it reduces the energy use in your household, therefore saving you money.
7. Buy Seasonally and Locally
Next time you’re doing your grocery shop, take a moment to look at the country of origin printed on the packaging of your food. It’s very easy to forget about where our food comes from when we see it on the supermarket shelves, but a lot of products have travelled a very long way to get there. For example, a lot of the avocados you buy were probably grown in Mexico, meaning they have travelled about 5500 miles to get to a British supermarket; you can probably guess the kind of environmental impact this has.
Instead of buying foods that have travelled thousands of miles, try buying your produce seasonally and locally. These products will be fresher, riper, safer and much less environmentally damaging. Being more conscious of where our food comes from and how it has gotten to us can have a huge impact on reducing climate change and improving the quality of the food we eat.
8. Be Active In The Change
Climate change awareness and action is growing exponentially, especially among young people. However, serious and lasting change is halted by ignorance, skepticism and stagnancy in governmental action. Get involved in climate activism to ensure that you have a say in the future. Whether you want to attend peaceful protests, volunteer for a climate charity or even e-mail your local MP, do something to get involved.