Just A Small Change...

Recently we've been flooded with environmental crises. Obviously there's the biggest of all; the planet is dying and if we don't do something in 12 years the damage could well be irreversible. But as well as the main headline there are the other stories too; Greta Thunberg sailing to a climate conference in New York- the only carbon neutral method available. The Okjokull glacier in Iceland being declared dead and the devastating fires in the Amazon being helped or at least not mitigated by President Bolsonaro's climate change denying policies which encourage logging and slash and burn techniques to open up grazing areas for cattle. The problem that the world faces is that scientists have been telling us for years what the problem is and what will happen if we don't act and everyone, politicians and the populace alike, have stuck their fingers in their ears and bluntly refused to acknowledge the situation. Now current predictions suggest that after 12 years the damage may be irreversible and yet still governments are slow to declare climate emergencies or make any significant changes at state level.
     I often feel when I read these stories and look at the state of things that I'm simply not doing enough. How can one person make any changes that would negate the destruction of the Earth's Lungs, or reduce their carbon footprint to limit global warming to only 1-1.5 degrees? It feels like an impossible task but there are things that you can do to make a difference and if governments are slow to act then the individual must step forward and set an example.

Climate activist at the funeral for the Okjokull glacier, now a lake in Iceland

  • Eating less meat
      • I'm not suggesting that you immediately become a vegan or even a full time vegetarian but consider eating less meat. The cattle farming industry is particularly damaging to the environment not only at home but further afield. The demand for beef encourages farmers to burn valuable forest space to graze cattle, sometimes destroying the forest permanently. Switching to lentils in curries or stews is a nice way of getting in the valuable protein but in a meatless way.
    • Using less water
      • Don't keep the tap running as you brush your teeth is something I was told years ago and have done as long as I can remember. But also consider whether you need to fully fill the kettle up if you'e only having one cup of tea? Try not to take unnecessarily long showers, as relaxing as that might be!
    • Shopping
      • Take your own shopping bags when you go shopping either to the supermarket or elsewhere. Supermarkets encourage bags for life and I know that Asda will replace your broken ones free of charge. You don't need that flashy plastic bag from each shop you go to when you go on that new season clothes shopping spree. Invest in a tote or three and make sure you never leave the house without it! Re-use, re-use, re-use!
    • Plastic wrapped veg
      • I would highly recommend avoiding buying plastic wrapped veg. Your carrots will taste just the same if you buy them loose and you won't be buying unnecessary and often un-recyclable plastic. The industry has done an excellent job of conning people into thinking that the more packaging fruit and veg has, the better quality it is and that is simply not the case. 
      • You can even go one step further and just chuck your loose fruit and veg in your basket, no harm will come to it and it will be perfectly safe packed away in your bag for life.
    • Avoid using the car if you don't need to
      • If you can walk it, walk it. Cars guzzle up petrol and diesel and the oil fields are already running low which will in turn hike up the price and quite probably cause conflict in the Middle East so avoiding short car journeys is a win win. Instead you can always try public transport which is much better for the environment- especially as cities are increasingly investing in electric buses and trams and more sustainable fuels.
    • Natural fibres
      • It's easy not to even consider. When you find a bargain most peoples thoughts don't turn to what the clothes are made out of but it's really important. Natural fibres such as wool, linen, silk and cotton are being usurped by synthetic materials which are primarily made of plastic and when washed release micro fibres which make their way into the sea and then the food chain.
      • I accept that cotton requires a LOT of water to grow but wool and linen are much more sustainable and eco-friendly and where possible I always try to buy clothes made of natural fibres. 
      • Marks and Spencers is a go-to for underwear and I only ever buy cotton knickers and socks. Similarly when I buy T-shirts and trousers I check to see what they're made of. If they're mainly cotton, wool or linen I'll get them but if they're mainly synthetics like viscose, polyester, nylon then I avoid like the plague. They aren't as nice on the skin and they're not as nice on the environment. Pleasingly increasing numbers of high street brands are offering a wider range of materials for their clothes and on a recent trip to Primark a was able to buy all my shorts for my travels in linen and cotton where I had been unable to before.
    • Charity shops
      • Why buy new if you can get a bargain in a charity shop, or vintage market. It's much more eco-friendly and often kinder on the old bank account as well. Have a scavenge. You can always find something.
    • Campaign
      • Campaign and let your voice be heard. Put pressure on governments. Let them know how angry and worried you are. Keep up to date or find out about demonstrations near you. March for the climate because we need nature more than nature needs us
    • Ecosia
      • Last but not least is Ecosia. My friend Lauren (check out her amazing blog here) introduced me to Ecosia probably a couple of years ago. It's a web browser that for every 45 searches will plant a tree. It's also available in an app so I have it on my phone and have swapped Apple's Safari for it as well as setting it as my default browser on my laptop. It's got a lovely neat interface and acts just the same as Google but underneath the search bar is a live count of the number of threes they're planted and there's also a news section so you can keep up to date with all their panting projects. It's a small change but in the internet driven world we live in it has the power to make a big difference.
    I was inspired to write this blog post after hearing on BBC Radio 4, the speech made at the funeral for the Okjokull glacier in Iceland. I recommend giving it a listen here. It's time to act now before it's too late and just absorbing some of these things into your life can help make a difference.

    Have you got any other tips? I'd love to hear so let me know in the comments below!

    Disclaimer: The images in this post have not been taken by me and I do not own them. All rights go to their respective owners


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