It’s pretty terrifying to realise that we are “the first generation that knows we are destroying the world, and could be the last that can do anything about it,” as the WWF puts it.
However daunting it is, when it comes to thinking about climate change as a whole, being overwhelmed and shutting down makes zero sense, because individual acts can make a huge difference.
As I once heard – and have never really been able to slip into conversation – one bee is an annoyance, but a swarm is a game changer. Small acts in big amounts are a force to be reckoned with.
Now, I’m not suggesting you must lie across the road outside the Houses of Parliament. This is about simple but effective acts that may feel small but are deceptively powerful. Here are some you can really get your teeth into.
To quote the author of No. More. Plastic and environmental activist Martin Dorey: “Do you have two minutes? Of course you do.” Martin launched the #2minutesolution after he saw how polluted his local beaches were. We know plastic takes up to 1,000 years to degrade, and even then it breaks down into tiny micro-pieces that are digested by sea life and birds, choking our wildlife and ending up, you guessed it, in us. So, trying to stop plastic getting into our waterways is key.
The #2minutesolution is about taking a couple of minutes out of your day to collect as much litter as you can and recycle it. If we all went outside our office or house and set a timer on our phones, the amount we could collectively gather in that 120 seconds would be monstrous. And it’s just so doable? Have a dog? Invest in compostable doggie bags and fill one with litter when you next take your pooch for a stroll. Easy.
Switching your home to green energy is a one-time thing that makes a world of difference every single day. Plus, switching isn’t actually a slog like it used to be; new, green energy companies know exactly what they’re doing and have rebuffed the traditional energy supplier model for an online, easy experience. So all you have to do is give them your meter readings and they’ll do the entire switch (and often pay for anything outstanding amount) for you.
I changed to Bulb Energy last year and heard nothing from them. Suddenly my house was running on 100 percent renewable electricity and 10 percent green gas, and I felt so great having a shower, turning on the lights and making a cuppa in the knowledge that it wasn’t costing the Earth as much.
Go veggie for a day
No one is saying you can’t ever eat a steak with your mates. But seeing as we’re at the point where the demand for meat far outweighs what we can produce without literally wiping ourselves out, reducing meat intake is key.
Animal Agriculture, or factory farming, is one of the leading causes of climate change. It takes 1,799 gallons of water to make one pound of beef, and 260 million acres of forest have been cut down to make space for livestock. Is a burger really all that?
If that doesn’t convince you, try this for size: if everyone in the U.S. reduced their meat intake by one day a week it would save 1.4 billion animals from being raised for meat and would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road. Time for a big fat Margherita pizza.
Reusable over disposable
We all know single-use plastics and packaging is a complete no-no, but the truth is we can’t really recycle our way out of this situation, so buying reusables in eco-friendly materials such as a glass and cork is way better than using paper cups instead of plastic.
Keep Cup or a reusable water bottle that’s glass or metal – not plastic – are great and so many coffee chains now do a discount if you come with your own cup.
The next time you’re wandering around your home, take a look at the everyday stuff that’s upping your waste consumption; cling film, plastic toothbrushes, face wipes, cotton buds, health and beauty bottles – the list is endless. They all look pretty rubbish in the house.
You never see old ragged plastic toothbrushes on Pinterest, do you? Websites like Plastic Freedom have such cool sustainable options, for almost everything, that not only make your house look well put-together, but make you look very together.
No paper trail
Sure, paper is more sustainable than plastic, but did you know that a tree has to be alive 40 years in order to absorb one tonne of carbon dioxide.
Give those leafy guys as much time to grow as possible by keeping an eye on your single-use paper or cardboard consumption just as you do with plastic.
It takes 2 minutes to write a sign for your door saying a polite ‘no’ to leaflets and promo materials. Signing up for e-banking is a one-click job. Buying books second hand is way cheaper, and saying no to toxic-filled paper receipts takes one second.
It takes a whopping amount of energy to distill and clean water, and we’ve gotten too used to having an ‘unlimited supply’. The cold hard truth is: no resource is unlimited. So get saving:
Leftover water in glasses after a meal? Water your house plants with them.
Turn off your tap when brushing your teeth.
Collect rain water a big bucket if you don’t have an outdoor tap.
Grab a water-saving shower head: You can purchase them online, They’re pretty affordable and they claim to be able to save up to 9,000 litres of water a year. One click to buy, one click to fit. Sorted.
Feeling inspired? Pick one thing on this list to do this week, and when you feel like you’re on top of that, add another.
By the end of the year you could be making a significant difference and feeling #smug. Plus, I’ll bet my collection of eco-designer clothes that you’ll start to get into it and you’ll get other people in your life on board too.
Now, go forth and begin the fight for this awesome planet!