As the United Nations name Climate Change as the defining issue of our time, the scale of the challenges facing our planet can seem daunting. But that doesn't mean that as individuals we cannot make a difference. With a UK average of 5.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions (per capita) and a global target of 2 tonnes per person, per year, we all have a collective responsibility to reach this goal. Personal lifestyles do count and the changes we make to the way we live our lives can help to minimise the negative impact we have on our planet.
Become a Flexitarian
Eating a meat-based diet racks up the equivalent of 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. And with 40 per cent of all the land in the world being used for farming animals and growing crops to feed them, the meat industry is responsible for 15 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions. By simply cooking more vegetarian meals you can significantly reduce your Co2 consumption.
A flexitarian diet aims to reduce the amount of meat you consume. With so many plant-based recipes available to inspire you in the kitchen, and with more and more meat alternatives available on our shelves, this simple change to your diet can be a great opportunity to discover new and exciting meals. Also, by learning when different foods are in season, you can help cook more seasonally which will help to minimise the transportation of products across the globe, further reducing the impact our eating habits have on our planet.
Drive Less, Walk More
Our dependency on cars and our obsession with personal vehicle ownership means that on average we are consuming 2.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by driving. With transport emissions in the UK having declined by only 2% since 1990, this is an area of our daily lives that must change if we are to help save the planet. With greater investment needed in our public transport services and our UK Governments commitment for almost all vehicles to be zero emission by 2050, we are going to see drastic changes to how we transport ourselves around, starting with how often we do so.
By driving less and walking more, you will not only reduce the amount of harmful fossil fuels being released into our atmosphere, you will also improve your health and overall wellbeing. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, walking has been proven to increase your self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. A win-win situation that, with a bit of careful planning, can be integrated into your routine. This simple change can make a huge difference to the state of our planet.
Shop from Eco Friendly Brands
Not so long ago it seemed like we had access to endless resources, but we have very quickly learnt that our constant use of the planet’s assets has seen many used up and others facing extinction. The results of our over consumption is clear to see as we struggle to fight against issues like global warming and carbon emissions, but the good news is that we are making progress. Just as individuals are doing their bit to contribute towards a healthier planet, companies are also finding that an eco-friendly approach is not only beneficial to our world, but also to their place in the marketplace.
Eco-friendly brands are setting environmental standards that consumers are choosing to support, as we increasingly want to feel good about the products we are spending our money on. Their commitment to the environment and their ability to inspire more sustainable practices has seen a ripple effect emerge across both the interior design and fashion industry. As consumers favour brands that are working hard to make a difference, this significant shift in buying behaviour is causing businesses to become more aware of the impact their manufacturing is having on our environment.
Grow Your Own
With food production being responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, there are many elements that must be considered when trying to understand the impact of our eating habits. One of which is how we transport our food around the world. Responsible for 6 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions emitted from food production, it is arguable more important to consider what you are eating (livestock=52 percent) rather than where it has come from. But as the processing, packaging and retail of food combined is responsible for 12 percent of omissions, growing your own is a simple way to help save the planet.
As well as being a hobby that encourage a healthier and happier you, gardening is a great way to eat foods that are organic and free from chemicals. When beginning your veggie patch, remember that it is important to retain a level of biodiversity within our gardens so alongside planting your vegetables make sure to leave areas for natural grasses and flowers to encourage local wildlife and insects.
Holiday in the UK
With so many details to consider like what car you drive or where you sit in the plane, combined with the fact that the internet is flooded with confusing comparison tables, calculating the effect that our holidays have on the planet is a mindboggling task. But headlines from the UK Governments' Conversion Factors Report (2019) stress that travelling by aeroplane can be up to 5 times more harmful to our planet than using public transport. And when you also include the warming effects of non CO2 emissions released at high altitudes, the catastrophic impact that aviation has on our environment is something we should all be considering when planning our annual trips abroad.
By travelling to destinations closer to home by public transport or in a car with more than 2 people, you are personally responsible for significant less CO2 emissions. And you may be surprised by what is available right on your doorstep, with so many wonderful short trips and days out, the UK is full of holiday worthy destinations. Whether you are looking for stunning hikes, somewhere to take a refreshing dip in the great outdoors or a chance to sit back, relax and be pampered, there are plenty of options for you and the whole family to enjoy.
Make Do and Mend
This wartime wisdom has seen a recent resurgence as sustainable-conscious consumers are choosing to buy less and repair more. With the pre-loved market predicted to overtake the fast fashion industry by 2029, the decision to reuse, repurpose and upcycle items is a great way to help to save the planet.
With campaigns like #30wears gaining traction in the fashion world, people are increasingly buying items that will last. Projects such as swap shops and repaire cafes are popping up in towns and cities across the UK, and services such as tailoring and reupholstery are seeing a spike in demand as people seek to fix what they already have. With charities such as Mind UK encouraging people to engage in restorative projects, upcycling can also help to boost your mood and wellbeing. A great collaborative activity to share with friends and especially children, this simple change can become a creative past-time that leads to positive results for both us and our planet.
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