Climate change affects us all. Every day the debate continues about who is responsible for making the changes to reverse the damage we’ve done to the environment. While governments control the infrastructure that we all live under; determining rules surrounding emissions, and large corporations make decisions about how the products they sell us are produced and delivered to us; there is still an onus on us, the individual, to make changes in our lives which will benefit society on the whole.
The question is always; what can one person do that can make that much of a difference? And how can you and your family make sure that you are as eco-friendly as possible? Getting into good, simple habits yourself will influence the decisions your children make as they grow up.
Here are a few simple changes you can make around your home and in your day-to-day life. It is worth taking the time to implement as many as possible.
Often, researching which energy supplier to switch to ends up on the bottom of our to-do list. Saving money is always helpful, but there is another very good reason to look at your supplier and make sure they are right for you. There are many new energy suppliers challenging the bigger, more established companies. A large proportion of these companies are focused on providing more environmentally friendly energy using renewables. By changing your supplier, you could massively reduce the carbon footprint of your family.
Another option for reducing your environmental impact through your energy consumption would be to get solar panels fitted to your roof. Often, local authorities offer grants or financial incentives to homeowners looking to make improvements to benefit the environment. It can be expensive so be sure and research and get quotes from the best solar panel installer in your area.
We very often leave electrical items plugged in, switched on. We might charge phones for longer than they need, leaving lights switched on, or TVs on standby or, running heating when we don’t need it, All of this wastes energy. It costs us financially, and it is wasteful. Making sure we are only using electricity and gas when we need will certainly mount up and help dramatically.
‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is a saying we often hear. But do we ever stop and think about what we mean by it and how it might help? Obviously, we know that we need to minimize the waste we send to landfill. Reducing the amount that we buy and consume will ultimately lead to less being disposed of. Looking for products with minimal packaging helps greatly here.
Buying second hand wherever possible not only saves you money, it also helps reduce waste going to landfill. If you need new furniture at home, you could look in second hand or charity stores to look for items to upcycle.
If you do have to dispose of items, you should do some research into what can be recycled in your area. Recycling facilities differ from area to area, and it’s always worth checking what items can be collected from your kerbside. When buying a new electrical item, find out if the store has a like-for-like scheme for disposing of any items you might be replacing.
If you are off to the supermarket, take strong, reusable bags to carry all of your shopping home. Single-use bags take 500 years to degrade, they are found in vast quantities in the ocean and are often swallowed by marine life.
If you are thinking of having a party for your children, consider using reusable plastic plates and cups rather than disposable paper plates.
If you are a mother to a new baby, cloth diapers are not more cost effective than disposable diapers, but much better for the environment. Again, diapers take hundreds of years to degrade. They also do not contain the chemicals often found in diapers, which can cause irritation and rash.
The way we choose to eat impacts the environment greatly. Our supermarket shelves are lined with products from all over the world. Through advancements made over the last century, we have come to expect to be able to buy fruit and veg from anywhere and at any time; regardless of when they are in season. Look at the labels on your products, and consider how far your banana or peach may have travelled to reach you. The costs to the environment here are huge. Where possible, try to buy in season- and where possible, grown as close to home as possible.
Also, consider the abundance of food we import. Supermarket shelves are always kept full, keeping them well filled makes them more enticing to customers, and a certain amount of waste is always factored into the store’s profit margins. But consider the waste here. And when we shop, we often buy much more than we need. How much of these well-travelled products end up in your own bins? Planning meals and recipes in advance, freezing leftovers, or batch cooking are very helpful ways to reduce your food waste.
Although in the past, the reasons that many people choose vegetarianism and veganism have been linked to beliefs around animal cruelty, there has been a rise in recent years of people reducing meat and dairy consumption or removing it entirely from their diets for environmental reasons.
The resources used in farming animals are vast and increasing. There are a lot of resources in farming animals which are often overlooked. These range from additional farming land to grow feed, which often requires deforestation, to the water required in farming and then there is the methane produced.
While there is a strong argument for moving towards a fully plant-based diet, which, with research it is easily obtainable and can have massive health benefits; many people are taking on a flexitarian diet- reducing the amount of meat and dairy they buy and consume and buying locally raised, better cuts of meat is a step in the right direction.