Our beautiful planet is in big trouble. Yes, I know, we can look out the window and see the sun shining, the birds flying, the flowers in bloom and convince ourselves that all is OK with the world, and the climate change crisis we all hear so much about is just media fed sensationalism.
If only it was. Unfortunately, climate change is all too REAL and we are heading with lightening speed into a very frightening future if we don’t all take individual responsibility and start doing something about it NOW.
It’s all too easy to hope that someone else will tackle and solve the problem, that somehow this issue is going to sort itself out without any of us having to change our lives, or do much about it. Sadly that’s a vain hope. Yes, of course we need change to come from government and the world has to put pressure on the countries – and companies – who are the worst offenders, but while we are waiting for the big changes to come, lets think about what individual options we have personally that could make a difference. Because if we ALL try and make a small difference, that is going to add up to a VERY big difference. Here then are 6 suggestions to help you live a more sustainable life, and the reasons why you should give them a try 🌱
Eat less meat (or better still, become a veggie)
Why? Because meat production demands so many more resources of our planet that crops do. Farmers use fertilisers, machinery and land to grow feed for their animals. Animals, especially cattle, need a lot of land. The large majority of deforestation in the Amazon region, for example, is due to farmers clearing land for cattle farming. Meat also contributes to climate change in a way plant-based foods do not, because animals (especially ruminants like cows and sheep), directly release the greenhouse gas methane as they digest their food. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, trapping 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. In fact, nearly 20% of global warming can be attributed to methane gas.
If you can’t face giving up meat, take it one meal at a time. Go meatless for one or two dinners a week and try and find vegetarian swaps for favourite dishes like chilli and lasagne. Try my favourite company for a vegan meat replacement:
I challenge you to try these products and tell me they are not as tasty as bacon and sausages!
Reduce your ‘fast fashion’ shopping (and buy second hand)
Why? ‘Fast fashion’ means cheap, mass-produced clothing that has a huge impact on the environment. It appeals to consumers because it is cheap and easily replaced. These clothes are quickly discarded, piling up in landfills. Globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created each year and the equivalent to a bin lorry full of clothes ends up on landfill sites every second. By 2030, we are expected to be discarding more than 134 million tonnes of textiles a year. But the problem with fast fashion doesn’t end there; The negative impact includes its use of cheap, toxic textile dyes, making the fashion industry one of the biggest polluters of clean water. And the use of water is staggering: To get some context, to make one cotton shirt can take up to 2,800 litres of water, which is enough water for one person to drink for 2 ½ years.
Try and buy just one or two quality pieces a season from clothing companies that are serious about sustainability, and buy second hand where you can. Ebay and Vinted are two of many sites where you can buy gorgeous second hand items, oand they are cheaper than buying new. Do not throw clothes away, give them away, or donate.
Cut down your car usage (and use public transport when you can)
Why? Because cars are a major contributor to air pollution. Vehicle pollutants harm our health and contain greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Burning gasoline and diesel fuel creates harmful byproducts like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, benzene, and formaldehyde. In addition, vehicles emit carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. Road transport accounts for 22% of total UK emissions of carbon dioxide a major contributor to climate change.
Try to avoid using cars for short journeys – combine trips or walk, cycle, or take a bus. Switch off when stationary – if stuck in traffic or stopping more than a minute. Do not run the engine unnecessarily – drive off soon after starting. Remember that air conditioning devices increase fuel consumption, and only use them when really necessary. Try sharing your journeys with friends or neighbours, take a colleague to work, or join a lift share. And finally, if you are in the market for a new car, investigate alternatives: There are a number of different technologies and fuels available; existing cars can also be adapted to give off lower emissions.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
Why? Because recycling reduces the need for extracting, (mining, quarrying and logging), refining, and processing the raw materials which create air and water pollution. Because recycling saves energy, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The more we recycle, the less garbage ends up in our landfills and incineration plants. By reusing aluminum, paper, glass, plastics, and other materials, we can save production and energy costs, and reduce the negative impacts that the extraction and processing of these materials has on the environment. And we can limit the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans and waterways which are not only killing our marine life, but also finding its way into our water supply and ultimately, our bodies.
Reduce Your Food Waste
Why Because food wastage is a massive issue in climate change. Incredibly, we waste about a third of all food produced for human consumption. This wasted food has taken massive amounts of fresh water, land and labour to produce. If it were a country, food waste would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Wasted food ends up in the bin, and ultimately the landfill, which then produces methane, the greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It’s estimated that 7% of greenhouse gases produced globally are due to preventable food waste.
Try a healthier, more sustainable diet. Buy only what you need. Plan your meals. Make a shopping list and stick to it, and avoid impulse buys. Pick ugly fruit and vegetables: Oddly-shaped or bruised fruits and vegetables are often thrown away because they don’t meet cosmetic standards. Yet they taste the same! Use mature fruit for smoothies, juices and desserts and love your leftovers: If you don’t eat everything, freeze it for later or use it as an ingredient in another meal. Finally donate! Apps can connect neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away.
Say no to single use plastic
Why? Because recent figures suggest that 8 million pieces of plastic are entering oceans around the world every day. This is directly linked to the deaths of over 1 million seabirds every year and we have all seen the upsetting images of turtles and dolphins dying from ingesting plastic bags and bottles. The UK waterways are plagued by over 15 million items of plastic each year, including water bottles which take hundreds of years to break down. As they do, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics, which are now known to be entering the food chain. And our bodies. It’s estimated that plastic is now found in one in every three fish caught for human consumption.
Try and avoid at all costs, single-use plastics such as drinking straws and plastic drinking bottles. If you go shopping, remember to take a cloth bag or a carrier bag that you use again and again. Buy more loose food and vegetables and fewer plastic packaged products, and replace plastic tupperware with glass or steel containers.
I hope this has given you a few ideas to help you live more sustainably, and help the environment, but if you would like to get a few more ideas, please click on the link below:
“Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here; it is happening now.” Barack Obama
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Native American Proverb
“Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.” Greta Thunberg
“The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.” Al Gore