Climate change; are you sick of hearing about this? It wouldn’t be surprising since this topic has been discussed for decades. Take a moment to think, the term Global Warming was coined in the seventies; that was over 40 years ago.
I remember discussing the importance of recycling in school, which felt like it was being marketed as a cure all solution, as well as the danger of CFC’s destroying the ozone layer. There is no focus on this now which proves that change is possible and applying enough pressure in the right places can have a positive impact. The ozone layer is apparently on the mend so continued efforts are producing results.
The conversation then shifted to the more general Greenhouse Gases before Global Warming became the most used term. Now that the situation continues to worsen we have arrived at actual Climate Change. Climate is what makes our space rock habitable. There are 7.5 billion of us on this planet and we’re all at risk, some more than others. We are disturbing the balance of our global ecosystem which is bad for all beings living in it.
Any basic skim reading research scares me, and the consensus among the scientific community endorses that it is not a myth as some would shockingly still try and insist. Despite much talk and concern about our predicament it seems we are all waiting for someone else to fix it. I am angry at myself for being party to this, but now is the time for change.
It has taken the frustration of a teenage girl who went on strike from school to highlight how serious this situation really is. Greta Thunberg is taking her anger and leading the charge against corporations and world leaders in a passionate and honest quest to save our planet from us. She has been the catalyst who continues to galvanise a movement of young people fearing for their future, forcing us adults and those in charge to stop talking and actually take action.
The more I think about this the more I begin to feel overwhelmed. I suddenly feel so small and doubt what I could contribute, but if we all make small changes they become big shifts; this begins with all of us taking responsibility.
The Global Climate Strike last week felt like a call to action. My office participated, spending the day coming up with solutions to achieve zero carbon on our projects and within our offices; some of us also joined the demonstration as it made its way through London. I’ve since been thinking about what everyday things we are all capable of doing to slow the destruction of our planet.
I thought it would be useful to make a list of where to start to be mindful of the consequences of my routine:
I’ve been vegetarian for years, and meat is a big baddy when it comes to emissions with the intensive farming methods used and transport required; not to mention the cruelty in the treatment of the animals being slaughtered. Beef production is a particularly poor performer. While this wasn’t the reason I stopped eating meat in the first place, it does mean I’m very unlikely to go back to it. We should all understand that the amount of meat we eat is contributing massively to global warming as well as the decline in health and well being.
The cruelty of the dairy industry is quite shocking as well as being heavy on resources for a relatively low output. Going plant based at least some of the time is the single biggest way we can all have a positive impact on the environment. We don’t all have to be vegan, but in the case of meat and dairy, less is definitely more.
Eat seasonal, source local
A tiny bit of research can go a long way. We are so spoiled; we can get whatever produce we want, whenever we want. We are so used to this standard we don’t know how to be any other way, but this is no excuse. It’s quite simple to visit a site like Eat the Seasons and check what produce is in season. This not only increases the nutritional value but greatly reduces the carbon footprint by cutting the amount of energy used in growing, storing and transporting produce. It’s also worth investigating any local markets to reduce the transport toll even further, and support local farmers, or even growing your own. Fruit and veg delivery services can be a way of sourcing locally grown produce too. Take a look at Abel & Cole and Riverford for example.
Flying is the biggest carbon offender – an average cost of 90 kg of carbon per hour of flight. I know it’s sometimes unavoidable, but having a look for possible alternative methods of transport when we can is the least we can do. Investigating methods of offsetting is also a way of lessening the environmental impact, or getting involved in a programme nearby e.g. a charity like Trees for Cities that plants trees internationally.
The ocean absorb a huge amount of carbon, which is destroying the delicate ecosystem through acidification. It doesn’t help that we are over fishing, and those that escape are choking on a diet of micro plastics. Huge ‘islands’ of rubbish are collecting (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is reported to be twice the size of Texas!) consisting mostly of plastics; we are really abusing the oceans. We need to end our reliance on single use plastics in the first instance, but minimise our use of plastic altogether. Recycling is still important, but also worth looking into where the items are sorted and checking whether recycling is actually occurring.
It’s worth mentioning the amount of plastic in disposable sanitary products which also ultimately end up in the ocean. Reusable products like a Mooncup (or equivalent) as well as Thinx underwear may require a little investment upfront but they last.
We do throw away an awful lot that could be reused. We buy too much food which ends up wasted and cheap clothing which we so readily discard – 300,000 tonnes of it in 2016 alone. How quickly we forgot about ‘Make do and Mend’.
Banks and pension providers invest with our money, it is our right as a customer to know what that money is funding. Many invest in fossil fuels and one can do one’s own research or write a letter asking the company directly what your money is essentially buying.
Switching to clean energy providers (Bulb and Octopus Energy) is a great way of forcing business to invest in renewable energy sources. Voting with your wallet can be a powerful motivator.
This is our home, there is no other option and we are stubbornly marching through desertification toward starvation and extinction. It’s delusional to think we can continue ‘business as usual’ and assume someone else will fix the problem. Small changes make a big difference if we all do something, which means you and me. Let’s turn this ship around.