Last week’s release of the sixth assessment report on climate change by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), revealed that some impacts of climate change are now irreversible, including rapidly rising sea levels and the vast melting of arctic ice sheets and glaciers. For those of us only just beginning the first stages of our adult lives, and those even younger, this is a devastating reality that we are going to be faced with in the coming decades.
The reason for this? Undoubtedly, it’s our existence. Our burning of fossil fuels to power our towns and cities, for agriculture and for industry, has meant we have significantly increased the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, contributing to the greenhouse effect which has severe negative implications for our life on earth.
So, what are we going to do about it? The recent IPCC report could not have been clearer and, frankly, more concerning. Unless we take the necessary actions to mitigate climate change now, we will not be able to rectify the rising temperature of our planet and it will become beyond repair.
In the words of a very fitting Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” To take some wisdom from this proverb, if we want our planet to grow and be here in years to come, there’s no time like the present – we need to act now and take responsibility for the damage we have caused. Our lives are just beginning, let’s make sure we, and generations to come, can have the same opportunities as previous ones, in a healthy and happy world.
Now, this doesn’t mean I’m asking you to protest with Greta Thunberg (although, I’m not saying I wouldn’t actively encourage it if you did), and I’m not asking you to necessarily make vast changes to your life (although I wouldn’t discourage that either!) but I’m here to show you just how easy it is to work towards combating our current climate crisis, simply, and from the comfort of your own abode. After all, it’s you that can make a difference.
Yes, they really do make a difference. Even though you don’t see the change, hundreds of thousands of people signing petitions will force our governments to act in response to the ever-growing climate disaster. For a minute of your time, with minimal energy exerted, it might be one of the most efficient ways in which you can combat climate change. You can look at a number of organisations, their causes and their climate change petitions below:
WWF: Protecting and restoring vital rainforests and natural habitats around the world.
Friends of the Earth: Asking the government to take decisive action against climate change including properly insulating homes, creating green jobs and to give councils the funds and power to take climate action.
Greenpeace: Have a number of different petitions to ask the government and major organisations to take action against climate change.
The Nature Conservancy: Fighting for world leaders to take climate action immediately.
Switch to carbon-friendly commuting
Yes, yes, I know it’s not quite from home, but you have to get out of the house at some point or another! But, have you really thought about the implications of getting from A to B and whether you should ditch your car for a cleaner and greener mode of transportation?
Private transportation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, so why not ditch the long waits in traffic, the pain in the neck that is parking and the expense that comes with owning and using a car and instead opt for a cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly way of getting to your destination. Whether this be by bus, train, bike or by foot, think twice before you travel next.
Diet = disaster?
It may be easy to overlook that food is one of the biggest contributing factors towards climate change. The meat industry, for example, has contributed massively to deforestation due to the demand for animals, meaning more land to rear livestock and grow crops to feed livestock is necessary to fuel our meat fetish. Not to mention the greenhouse gas emissions, where roughly a quarter of all of these emissions stem from food production and in the seafood industry in which 94% of fish stocks are overfished, threatening the marine ecosystem and one of our biggest food sources.
As tempting as that rump steak or fillet of fish may be, for the sake of the planet there are a number of ways you can help tackle the food industry’s involvement in climate change:
- Waste not, want not – 30% of all food produced is wasted, so why not try and find new and inventive ways to use your food before throwing it away. Bananas past their best? Make a delicious banana bread loaf! Products nearly past their best before date? Pack them in the freezer for later! Bought too much bagged produce? Try buying loose next time so you can choose exactly how much you’ll eat!
- Eat less meat – Given the huge contribution that the meat and animal product industries have to climate change, maybe swap a couple of meat-based meals a week for plant-based ones. There are tonnes of delicious plant-based recipes online nowadays, and research has even shown it’s good for your health – sounds like a win-win situation to me!
- Plastic pollutants – Having contributed over 850 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2019, it’s safe to say plastic should be avoided at all costs! Try and buy loose items wherever possible and look for plastic-free and recyclable packaging alternatives when buying your produce.
Protect our pollinators!
The impact of climate change on bees has been detrimental, with major changes in annual rainfall, heat waves, pests and rising temperatures causing extreme complications for crop growth, and with this, a knock-on effect on bees – without whom, crops cannot be pollinated.
According to the Bee Conservatory, the best ways you can save the bees (from home, of course) include:
- Planting a bee garden – give our fuzzy friends a safe place to live and feed.
- Give a bee a home – sponsor local community movements or national movements to build bee homes and hives in communities, schools and gardens. Look up what your local area is doing to save the bees!
- Support bee nurturers – beekeepers will produce honey and beeswax products, so by buying these you are supporting individuals and businesses who are investing their time and resources into helping nature’s pollinators!
- Donate! – Find out your local or national bee conservation organisations and charities and donate if you can! A UK based independent charity the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is just one of the many organisations that you can donate to!
Back to basics – the 3Rs
I know, right? I feel like a primary school teacher with this one bringing it right back to the basics, which I suppose are easy to forget – remember to reduce, reuse and recycle! It’s a lot harder when you’re out and about, but when you’re in the comfort of your own home there’s really no excuse.
- Reduce – Produce less waste in general, it’s pretty simple. Maybe start composting – a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce that would otherwise go to landfill and give back to the environment at the same time!
- Reuse – Try and reuse products that would otherwise end up in waste for new, creative purposes. That plastic bag that you bought at the shop? Use it to store something in your house, or better yet, remember to take it out next time you go shopping.
- Recycle – Look up your local authority/council regulations and rules on recycling, and find out how easy it is for you to start repairing the planet.
Switch out your one-use items
There are so many items in our homes that we use once and dispose of immediately. Plastic wrap for instance: we’ll use it once and immediately throw it out, contributing masses of plastic to landfill every year. Why not consider opting for reusable options instead? Here are a list of easy one-use item switches you can make in your home:
- Plastic wrap – reusable beeswax covers
- Throw-away food containers – reusable tupperware
- Plastic throw-away cutlery – reusable eco-friendly cutlery
- Sanitary towels – reusable cotton sanitary towels, menstrual cups or period underwear
- Plastic cotton ear buds – reusable silicone ear bud
- Disposable cotton face pads – reusable cotton washable face pads
And the list goes on… not only will these switch outs tackle our environmental crisis, but they’ll also be saving you money in the long run, so what’s not to like?
If you don’t want to actively contribute to relieving our climate crisis, but you don’t mind parting with a few pennies, donating to charities and organisations working to fight against climate change is money well spent. A number of charities, organisations and links to donate include:
- WWF: Your funds will go towards protecting and restoring vital rainforests and natural habitats around the world.
- Friends of the Earth: Your funds will contribute to asking the government to take decisive action against climate change, including properly insulating homes, giving councils the funds and power to take climate action and to create green jobs.
- Greenpeace: Your funds will contribute to fundraising and campaigns to protect natural habitats.
- Practical action: Your funds will help create technologies in renewable energy, agro-processing, food production, water and more to help adapt to climate change.
- Cool Earth: Your funds will help continue work in communities in the rainforests to help stop deforestation
- Clean Air Task Force: Your funds will help continue action to reduce air pollution.
After all, we vote with our money in this day and age!
Conserve your water usage
You must be thinking, why? Of all the changes I could be making, why would I reduce water usage when roughly 71% of the world is covered in water? Well actually, 97.5% of that water is in the sea, salty and unsuitable for the uses we need it for, and the majority of the remaining 2.5% is in our ice caps. So, the miniscule amount that we can actually use, has to satisfy a number of needs including drinking, cleaning, washing and agricultural and livestock needs, meaning our water supplies are really strained.
So, maybe next time you’re watering your plants, singing in the shower or letting the tap run whilst you’re brushing your teeth, you’ll think twice about letting that water wash away down the drain.
Use eco-friendly light bulbs
Let’s shed a little light on this subject, shall we? Being such an easy switch-out to make, with lower energy needs, increased efficiency and a longer lifespan, eco-friendly light bulbs are the way forward, and they’re estimated to save you money in the long run.
Alternatives include CFL, halogen incandescent and LED light bulbs, which all consume less power, produce the same level of brightness but for a much longer length of time. I can sense you’ve had that lightbulb moment – so go and get yourself some eco-friendly light bulbs.
We don’t often think about the repercussions that our regular cleaning routines can have, not only on the environment but also for ourselves. Not only can these nasty chemicals leach into our waterways and contaminate our oceans, but they can also cause physiological symptoms and harm our health. Fortunately, there are a lot of non-toxic alternatives that are just as tough on that grime, those stains and at eliminating those germs, most of which can be found in your cupboard:
- Bicarbonate of soda: This is an all rounder, it’s uses include being able to deodorize materials, polish metal and scrub grime.
- Vinegar: With acidic properties, it can combat grease and kill bacteria.
- Isopropyl alcohol: This is great as a disinfectant and for cleaning surfaces.
Now, it’s down to you!
So, there you have it. A list of top tips for you to become the ultimate climate change combater, so what are you waiting for? Take these small steps for humanity to take big positive strides for climate change.