Although we are all somewhat distracted at the moment, climate change is still an increasingly urgent issue we mustn’t forget about. What can we do individually that actually makes a difference?
There is plenty we can all do as individuals that will make a difference. But we have to get on board. The two biggest things we can all do to make a vast difference is eat less (no!?) meat, and stop flying. These two things have an enormous impact on our environment.
But there are things everyone can do at home. We spoke to ethical expert Atlanta Cook for ideas that everyone can activate.
STOP WITH THE BLAME
We may be the generation that knows how to reuse and repair, the generation that doesn’t waste resources, or knows how to ‘make do and mend’. But it is also our generation, and our parents’, which are responsible for inventing plastics, developing motor cars, and improving methodology for plundering natural resources. Think also deforestation, the population explosion, methods of large scale manufacture and waste, and intensive farming.
So giving it the old ‘we do our bit, it’s the youngsters who have a disposable life’ grumble just won’t do. Nor is it helpful.
Firstly, the youngsters all have parents who have formed their lifestyle habits, let’s not forget that – they didn’t learn this stuff all on their own.
Secondly, pointing fingers and blaming other people never fixes any kind of problem. We are in this together. And we need to fix it together. Let’s get this sorted out!
THERE IS STUFF YOU CAN DO
…are the measures we take as individuals actually worth bothering with?
So what can you do? In what feels like a world on the brink of collapse, are the measures we take as individuals actually worth bothering with?
The answer is definitely yes. And the more of us that take action, the better. If we all do our bit it will make a difference. Are you starting to see a pattern? Your input is really valuable. We all need to get on board. Not waste energy blaming other people.
- Switch to @ecotricity – they are the greenest/most ethical by miles.
- Switch lights off in empty rooms.
- Turn your thermostat down to 12-14, degrees which is a normal British Summer’s day, and wear more layers if you’re cold.
- Stop using your car for short journeys; instead allow yourself the time to walk so you get exercise and meet people on the way, both of which will greatly reduce stress and lift your mood!
- Order a veg box from a local grower, so you both support the local economy and eat more seasonal veg.
- Make more time to visit or chat to friends – it builds emotional resilience and your community network.
- Grow bee-friendly plants on any tiny patch or pot you have. Plant trees if you have space. Manicured lawns are useless monocultures.
- Buy less, but buy better. Is it organic, is it fair trade, is it eco or ethical? Do you really need it?
- Spending money to buy more stuff makes people dissatisfied and unhappy. Sharing what you have with friends, and spending more time with them, will make you much happier
- Give to someone’s favourite charity as a gift instead of pressies. Do they really need yet another ‘thing’?
Thinking of a nice pressie for someone? How about a subscription to Silver Magazine? All our paper is ethically-sourced!
Finally… it sounds so simple, but reducing your ‘energy’ consumption is crucial, and all of the simple lifestyle changes you can think of make a cumulative difference. They really do. Whether it’s reducing food transport miles, turning down the heating, or switching off your car engine whilst idling; all of it reduces your carbon footprint.
DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT’S ALLOWED IN YOUR RECYCLING?
Your coffee cups
You can’t recycle takeaway coffee cups. They’re made from two layers – the inside is plastic to make it waterproof – and it’s not possible to separate the plastic from the paper layers at recycling point. Take your own cups to the coffee shop!
Greasy pizza boxes
During recycling, paper doesn’t get heated. So your greasy or oily cardboard takeaway containers are no good. Try and keep them clean.
Rinse out stuff and make sure the food etc is gone from it. A bit like the greasy pizza box, the dirt might mean the plastic doesn’t make it to recycling.
Look for the codes
On plastics there’s a triangle shape with arrows in it and some numbers and letters. If there’s a 7 in the triangle, it might not be recyclable. Choose a different triangle. And get to know your symbols.
Loo roll, tissues, kitchen roll
Same with these things. If they’re used, they’re going in the bin, not the recycling.
Yes they’re glass, but it’s not the kind of glass you can recycle. Try upcycling or donating mirrors instead.
Wrapping paper and sticky tape
There are recyclable wrapping papers but you need to check. Any of them that are glittery, foiled, textured, or shiny probably no good. And if there’s sticky tape on it, definitely no. Sticky tape cannot be recycled and will prevent paper from mulching properly. Think before you wrap.