In so many ways, the current difficulties are the accumulated result of all of our individual choices and lifestyles. I’ve broken these ideas into sections, to be easier to scan.
We know there is far too much plastic in the world, the majority of which has been bought in order to throw away. We need to cut back on our single use plastic especially. Recycling is great when it happens, but it is so much *not* the solution to the problem.
- Loose fruit and veg is surely the first, most painless swap.
- I now make my own plain yogurt, coleslaw, spray cleaner, shower spray, etc
We, as a country especially, are SO wasteful! These points will start you looking into your own consumption, but don’t stop there!
- “Fast” fashion – we really don’t need to be throwing away clothes. Buy less, pay more, make it last, find ways to repurpose and give it a lift. I treasure the warmth of the cashmere sweaters I was given years ago by my mother (when she no longer wanted them). One is at the patching-and-darning stage, but still warm!
- Furniture seems to have been added to the list of disposables. Buy furniture you won’t have to junk in a few years because it’s falling apart. If you’re on a tight budget, buy 2nd hand, visit Freegle/Freecycle, or ask around.
- Appliances and white goods can very often be mended, if you don’t buy too cheaply. I’ve had many items repaired over the years. My washing machine has recently had its second repair, estimated age about 25 years old!
- Think before you buy – don’t buy something just because you can! By buying less you will reduce waste and spend less – which means you can afford to spend more to make the choices you want to elsewhere. For many things, 2nd hand is a great option.
Change your bank
Mark Carney (Governor of the Bank of England until recently) has warned of the need to dis-invest in fossil fuels – because as we go on, they will be coming higher risk and lower return. It has begun to happen, but most companies do not even have plans in place, and it needs to happen much faster.
So a fairly easy win for us as individuals is to look at where you put your money. Some banks are worse than other in this regard, and there are several out there who do not fund fossil fuel extraction. Here an introduction to the best banks, to start you on your way. Ethical Consumer also has a league table.
If you have share ISAs, it’s another area to look at moving your money to somewhere more climate-friendly than the big lenders. Also consider writing to your pension holder and ask about their investment in oil and gas – and tobacco and armaments, if that’s of interest. These have been traditionally the safe, solid areas to invest in. Oil and gas will cease to be in the not-so-distant future. The others are perhaps down to your personal ethical framework.
Reduce carbon footprint
Some of these will be easy for one and impossible for another. But if you have a goal to work towards, you may be able to, for example, go down to one car in (say) 5 years. You will be balancing factors like cost, ease, and impact.
A great start is to check your carbon footprint. That will give you an idea of where you use the most and so may make an effective change. There are several online calculators, I’ve linked to a couple in my Resources page.
- Of course you already know to insulate your home as much as possible? That is the cheapest way to make the biggest difference. If you can’t afford double glazing or are in rented accommodation, glazing film is a better-than-nothing alternative. Thick curtains over the door help there. Charity shops often have great stuff. Visit the Energy Saving Trust for ideas.
- You’ll be more fit if you took to walking or cycling anywhere less than a mile from your home. Walk a little further an find a scenic route, to avoid the pollution that builds up inside your car.
- Keep your car going as long as you can, but replace it with electric or hybrid when you do replace.
- Different forms of transport have different relative carbon costs. Take public transport if you can’t walk or cycle, take a train instead of a plane, holiday near instead of far.