We are already experiencing the early effects of climate change with the global increase in extreme weather events. The lives of our children and grandchildren are going to be drastically affected, and the extent of this depends entirely on what we do now.
When you look at what has to be done to stabilise the climate it seems an enormous and impossible task, but we must at least try. Although much of the action has to be at a global level, we all need to play our part.
Here are some ideas for things you can do without radically changing your lifestyle.
Make your voice heard. This is by far and away the most important. Politicians need to be pushed to act. Sign petitions, join Extinction Rebellion or Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace, support environmental campaigners, write to your MP. Whatever you are most comfortable with. Every little helps.
Learn more. Learn all you can about climate change and talk to people about it.
Fly less. Tourism is responsible for about 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from air travel – flying less is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Maybe holiday at home or travel by train. Use video conferencing at work.
Change your diet. Just cutting out or reducing beef, lamb and dairy consumption can make a significant difference. Red meat produces 5 times more emissions than poultry. Changing to a vegan diet can reduce your carbon footprint by about 20%. Buy MSC certified sustainably caught fish - look for the blue label. Eat local, in season food. Avoid processed and over-packaged foods. Reduce food waste by using or freezing leftovers and composting anything that can't be used. Check out food sharing apps like Oleo and Too Good To Go. See also How to eat green.
Drive less Use public transport, walk or cycle. Car share. Don't buy or lease a new car unless it's hybrid/electric. Try 'hypermiling' to reduce fuel use.
Switch to a green energy plan. These used to be more expensive but now, according to uswitch, green plans from small, independent suppliers are often the cheapest energy deals on the market. Investigate fitting solar panels.
Reduce your energy use Try to keep your heating at 18°C but, if that's too cold, remember each 1-degree reduction can save about 10% off your fuel consumption. Buy energy efficient appliances, insulate and draught-proof your home, turn off lights and standby, switch to LED light bulbs, get your boiler serviced regularly, use a thermostat for your heating. Wash clothes at a low temperature and line dry if possible – a drier load uses five times more electricity than the washing cycle.
Remember the 5Rs – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle. Buy less stuff. Use up what you have. Buy fewer, better things. Repair things. Buy second hand or swap stuff, especially clothes – fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Only buy stuff that can be reused or recycled and avoid single use plastic. Investigate Zero Waste Living for useful ideas.
Research the companies you buy from. Check their environmental policy, find out if they are supporting action on climate change or using renewable energy.
Choose low-energy-use outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, climbing, canoeing or sailing, rather than jet skis or powerboats or sky-diving.
Don't buy bottled water - take a bottle of water out with you, plus your own reusable coffee cup and grocery bags. Get the ReFill app to find out where you can fill up your water bottle for free.
Featured image by Ian Parker on Unsplash