Do want to know how to be a little more sustainable in your every day lives and hopefully reduce climate change? This is a conversation I’ve been having frequently over the past few weeks with my customers. As I write this in April 2019, Extinction Rebellion have just ended a phenomenal 11 day act of mass civil disobedience in central London, to highlight the need to address climate change. Now whatever you think of their disruptive actions, every single day since it began, I’ve heard climate change and environmental issues mentioned throughout radio, TV and social media over and over again. We need to talk about the environment, climate change and how to live more sustainably.
This is such a huge topic, it’s really hard to cover it in one blog, but in brief, the facts are as follows:
- We have 11 years to address climate change before we enter a phase of irreversible ecological breakdown.
- The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the highest it has been in 3 million years.
- By the end of this century, unless we do something, global temperatures will rise by between 3 and 5 degrees.
- 11% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are as a result of deforestation.
- 11% of the world’s population is in severe danger because of climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heat wave and sea-level rise.
These are the facts – it is not a hoax or “false news”. Scientists don’t make this stuff up for fun. Yes the climate has gone up and down over the past few millions of years, that is normal, but the rate of current change is not normal. For those who don’t believe in climate change, I think this is because they can’t be bothered to do anything about it.
“You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before.” Greta Thunburg
Those of you who know me personally will know that I am a bit opinionated, and I’m all for standing up and fighting for what you believe in. My daughter has inherited that gene; she is absolutely in awe of Greta Thunburg (a 16 year old climate change activist from Sweden, who has started a movement of children missing school on Fridays until international governments do something about climate change) and she too is on a mission to do something positive about climate change. We go into Manchester once a month for the Fridays for Future school strikes protest marches. I cannot even begin to tell you how life-affirming it is to see young children shouting passionately about how they want their future to be. My daughter and her generation has inspired me to do more.
Because of comments and pictures I’ve shared on social media, it has prompted all these conversations with my customers about what we can all do to help minimise climate change. And the question people ask most is, “But how can I be more sustainable at home?” It seems individuals are not sure what to do, and if doing a little bit can help; is it worth it?
There are two main ways to make a massive difference to climate change and the environment:
- Don’t fly. It’s the most carbon greedy activity on the planet.
- Drastically reduce or stop meat consumption – specifically beef and lamb. Cattle emit one third of the worlds carbon dioxide, and space for rearing cattle is responsible for most deforestation.
These two actions will make a huge difference, but there are lots of other small ways you can help too:
- Drive your car less, and choose a low emission car. Use public transport or walk or bike more.
- Buy less stuff – particularly cheap ‘fast fashion’ clothing.
- Consume less palm oil – it’s in everything from chocolate, cake, crisps to soaps; this is the major contributing factor in deforestation (less trees suck up less carbon dioxide). Take a little time to read your labels.
- Use less plastic in every area of your life.
- Use less energy (insulate your house so you are not over-heating, turn your lights off, turn your heating down, wear a jumper and some nice thick socks).
- Choose a green energy supplier, look into solar panels.
- Buy local, particularly fruit and veg – choose British foods in the supermarket (less air miles).
- Reduce food waste by meal planning and actually using everything you do buy.
- Plant more trees and plants, they’re going to suck up all that carbon dioxide
- Talk to your friends and family to get them thinking about what they can do and share insightful information on social media. Change happens when people talk.
- Communicate with those in power and with influence – if you think we are powerless as individuals, bear this in mind – a five yr old girl wrote to Pizza Express to ask them not to use plastic straws because they get stuck up turtles noses in the sea – they listened, reducing plastic straw use in the country by millions. Don’t underestimate your power of persuasion. Write to your MP, tweet your supermarkets etc.
- Offset your carbon omissions by investing in some kind of green project – there are plenty out there. We have just become carbon neutral and it wasn’t that hard, you can see more on our recycling and environment policy.
Remember all the r’s: recycle, re-use, re-purpose, reduce, recover, repair, rethink ….
Every little does help, but sadly as individuals, it’s still not enough. Which is why I personally agree with the actions of Extinction Rebellion – we really do have to group together and stand up and let politicians know that the way things are being done at the moment is not acceptable. Governments make agreements and policies, and then they don’t stick to them. We need to hold them accountable. Great change only comes from great action.
Further Viewing and Listening
Hopefully you saw (or can watch on catch-up) David Attenborough’s BBC Documentary on Climate Change that aired earlier this month. It was so moving and powerful. Please watch it if you haven’t already. Watching the orangutan trying to fight off the bulldozer that was destroying his habit for palm oil plantations makes me cry like a baby. It is utterly heart-breaking.
I listened to this Radio 4 podcast the other night, about how we can have ‘stuff’ and save the planet, and really advise you listen too – it’s so interesting what they say about over-use of plastic being such a small issue on the grand scheme of things. Click here to listen to this: Can we save the planet and still keep our stuff?
And I’m also sharing a link to this 2 minute clip of George Monbiot talking – you may not want to agree with him, but if we really and truly want to prevent climate change, we need to think about how we rate human welfare. Click here to listen to what he says about how we just measure our success on economic growth. It is vital that we starting rethinking this. Human welfare should be about health and happiness, not whether or not the economy grew. It should be about saving species that are going extinct, it should be about creating societies that embrace difference where no one feels excluded, it should be about raising children with a social conscience who care about one another. One of my favourite protest placards reads, “System Change, not Climate Change”. If ever a system needed changing, it is this one we have created.
Another quote to illustrate my point, “If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money.”
I hope I’ve given you a little something to think about here. Greta Thunburg said something beautiful in one of her speeches and it really resonated with me. It can feel depressing, and you can feel powerless and hopeless in the face of climate breakdown, but I don’t. She said,
“Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.”
So act people.
Thanks for reading x