Green & Environment
- Written by Natalia Baloghova Natalia Baloghova
- Published: 03 March 2021 03 March 2021
Sourced from Sarah Bridle's 'Climate Change & Food Without The Hot Air' Free Ebook
My claims are not based on my opinion. I attend talks on the various subject of climate change, I learn through listening to scientific podcasts and, mostly, I read.
This article was inspired through discussions with people/friends and family and recognising the misconception about what to do in order to make a real difference. This is not a scientific evidence list but rather a practical guide to follow.
The science is out there if you are keen to learn but if I start quoting scientists in this article it will never end. Although I would be happy to respond to some genuine queries should you wish to press on. BTW I do not intend to preach here (I don't like it myself) and by all means, I am very far from being a perfect human hence some of the suggestions on the list I do not practice myself, yet.
This list is also a reminder to me to improve daily and if it would inspire at least one person I would consider it worthwhile writing this article. Please like, comment and share it if you think it might inspire someone.
A quick list includes the main 5 things and unless you are prepared to make a drastic change in at least one of these 5, I am sorry to disappoint you but you do not need to read further. Unfortunately doing recycling and not using plastic won't cut the mustard, anymore. It’s a fact!
1 - Reduce or stop flying entirely. The emissions from transport are devastating, especially from flying and until the industry commercialise green planes we all need to cut back massively! Living through pandemic we are seeing people can put that business trip on hold and simply do a video conference call instead, no matter in what continent you are based. I met people who gave up flying entirely and they include businessmen, scientists and lecturers, therefore I think no one has an excuse anymore. You must ask yourself a question about how valuable is this trip for you, do you really need to fly? Can you find an alternative way to do what you need to do? If you are a flying addict can you drastically cut down? Please just start!
2 - Reduce or stop driving your car. How many cars do you own in your household? How inconvenient would it be to not owning a car and only hire/borrow it once you really need it? How often do you use your car? How big is your car? Can you change your SUV (SUVs are the worst polluters) for an electric car? Can you change your car for a smaller car? Can you share one car in your household? Can you reduce your driving to absolute essential drives, only? If you do use a car can you make sure you have a good reason and can you max the capacity in the car? Consider all these questions and get better at planning when you really need to use a car or even better get rid of your car if you can see yourself using other forms of transport.
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3 - Reduce or stop fully eating animal products. Red meat is the worst, following with other meats, but dairy, mainly cheese, is, unfortunately, a huge contributor to the problem, too. Dairy produce is higher on the emission list than say chicken, fish and eggs. I am not suggesting you become a Vegan (unless you are ready :)) but consider treating the journey as an experiment. After all, if you are eating air-freighted berries in winter your emissions are close to those of eating cheese or some meats. Would it be really that bad if you ate red meat as a special occasion food, only, or, if you could switch to eating leaner meat instead? If you are not a big meat eater would you consider cutting down your cheese intake or switching at least to a plant-based? Think about it as a treat and eat it only every other week for instance. There are an endless amount of restricting combinations you can try but the point is to stick with it. And, if you can, try to go further with your improvements. Can you make 3/4 days out of your week fully plant-based?
4 - Insulate your house and minimise your heat leakage. A lot of emissions come from poorly insulated homes. In the UK it is a particularly bad problem. Old double glazing is not great and now passive house standards are becoming more common. Insulating your house will reduce the usage of gas hence the emissions and or if you are using green energy less of it will be wasted. Your ultimate goal should be being warm in your house on a minimum usage of energy until the transition to 100% green energy becomes the only option for heating your house.
5 - Vote for green politics / green policies. The main obstacle in seeing emissions reductions is not for the lack of green inventions out there or lack of funds globally. It is due to an outdated system coupled with the conservative corporations and politicians holding us back in the dark. Psychologically this makes sense. Most people are afraid of change. This coupled with financial motivation and greed makes it the most challenging obstacle in the process in order to see the change we need to see.
If you are open to committing further read on!
6 - Change your bank for a green bank.
7 - Check that your pension investments are invested in green companies. If not, contact your fund manager and demand that unless they have a clear Net Zero pathway you will switch your pension elsewhere.
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8 - Investments, stocks, and shares. Only invest in companies that look ahead and are divesting away from fossil fuels. There are now stress tests to check whether a company is compliant with the Paris Agreement and committed to net-zero emissions before 2030 (they may say 2050 but that is not ambitious enough!).
9 - Insurance companies. They play a big role in influencing our future. Check whether your insurance also services fossil fuel companies and what their Net-Zero policies include. Also, are they protecting you against future climate impacts - many insurance companies are quietly changing their terms as weather impacts worsen.
10 - Switch your energy suppliers at your home and business or your work to a green energy supplier. If you are an employee of a company propose the energy switch to the owner or CEO.
11 - Change your windows for double or triple glazed to make the building (your home or your business) draft proof. There are companies out there now that will inspect your house for heat leakage (leakage from homes is a major source of carbon emissions) and make you a step by step plan on how to become more energy efficient.
12 - Get solar panels installed wherever you can.
13 - Change your white household goods once they come to the end of their life, for the latest energy-efficient models. Some companies claim you are better off changing them even though they are still working as saving on energy will make savings on your bills which in turn will repay your investment faster than you think.
14 - Upgrade other electronics in your household for eco ones.
15 - Use eco batteries only.
16 - Use only LED lightbulbs.
17 - Always turn off your computer, laptop, tablet, TV, and everything else that has a standby mode. If everyone will do this a lot of energy will be saved. Change that bad habit.
18 - Shower instead of having a bath. Treat this really like a luxury. Additionally, purchase the eco shower head which guarantees even less water usage whilst you shower. Safe water!
19 - Don't use the oven unless you are cooking for at least 4 people or you are storing pre-cooked food. The oven is energy-intensive and very ineffective if you cook only for yourself (one portion). The idea is similar to the car capacity you must maximise the cooking amounts to minimise your emissions. If you bake, arrange to bake with a neighbour and vice versa. The same goes for cooking on gas for one person. Switch to induction hob. Recent tests in restaurants reported much less kitchen pollution and better cooking control with precise cooking times. Also, less damage to pans, not such a hot environment, and psychologically better for people cooking. Gas is a fossil fuel and needs to be phased out too.
20 - Use share taxis if you must. It’s cheaper and it reduces emissions. Just find the right app.
21 - Always switch off your car engine whilst waiting in the car for someone/something.
22 - Don't take your children to school in your car, please! It’s bad for kids, you, and the planet.
Most people’s children attend school locally, in some countries, it is the law. If you don’t, try to find another way, bicycle or walking are great!
23 - Transport. Can you start using buses, trains or bicycles instead? The more people who ride bikes or E-bikes means councils will be encouraged to increase space for safer cycling. If your area is not great then email your MP and encourage your friends as well. Perhaps you don't mind walking. You will reach your 10.000 steps much easier and as a result, you will become a little healthier, too.
24 - Kettle usage. This one is hard to get used to. Don’t fill your kettle more than you plan to use. The kettle is also an energy-intensive machine and should be used with caution. If you need a cup of tea why not fill your cup with cold water and pour it back into the kettle?
25 - Never throw your food away. Globally, about one-third of the food produced is lost or wasted. In the UK only 10 % of the food waste comes from restaurants in comparison to 70% from households. Don't overstuff your fridge, freezer, or your cupboards with food if you can't handle the planning of the usage. It is easier to buy less and use what you have than lose touch with how much food you have in your house.
26 - Eat local produce as much as you can. Minimise eating avocado, quinoa, and many other foods that are in shortage to communities where they are mostly grown. These should be a treat, not a daily staple.
27 - Meat-eaters stick to grass-fed as well as local meat, preferably.
28 - Support local wineries and breweries. Drink local.
29 - Plant trees.
30 - Plant your own vegetables, herbs, orchard trees, or anything that you can grow in your climate or your house.
31 - Don’t buy flowers from abroad. Buy local if you can.
32 - Plant your own flowers.
33 - Don’t ever buy a Christmas tree. If you must, buy a small Christmas tree in a pot and, after Christmas, plant it in your own garden or donate it to your council or a park, school, and neighbourhood. They are natural carbon eaters, we really need trees!
34 - Email Christmas cards instead of posting paper ones. If you must use only recycled paper.
35 - Go foraging. You can pick berries, nettles, dandelions, herbs, and wild garlic in the UK and most of Europe.
36 - Don’t kill any insect, ANY! There is a collapse in insect numbers around the world and they are critical for our own survival. We rely on our biodiversity chain from the smallest animals to large ones to function in an optimum way. The interconnectedness in our nature is the foundation of the life we know today and its wellbeing. Disrupting or eliminating it is causing us an additional threat. It adds to devastating consequences for us all even faster than what we already face.
37 - Could you consider never buying clothes ever again? You could swap clothes with friends or online. You could pass them onto your kids. Do you need so many clothes? Think about it.
38 - Try buying only recycled paper toilet rolls.
39 - Don’t just throw away food just because it is passed its optimum “sell-by date” typically labeled on the packages. Use your common sense. If it looks right, smells right it is highly likely it is ok to eat, too.
40 - Try to use every part of an animal or a plant whilst eating it. This is a sustainable approach to living. I must admit I am not an expert but I have experimented. I have tried to use leaves from beetroot as well as cauliflower and I/we really enjoyed it. I put it in salads and or cook it with another veg. I have noticed supermarkets use them in salads too. Apparently, banana skin is very nutritious. On my list, next.
41 - Use margarine instead of butter. It uses half emissions as it is a plant derivative.
42 - Use plant-based milk instead of animal milk or don't use milk at all. Switch the rest of your diary products to plant options.
43 - Eat seasonal vegetables and fruit as whatever is not in season is highly likely flown to you in an aeroplane which adds emissions to your raspberries, green beans, or asparagus in winter similar to a beefsteak.
44 - Buy second-hand clothes, preferably. Clothes used to be made with better materials before fast-fashion changed it all. They lasted longer too! Generation Z is really switched on with this and I think we all could learn something from young people today.
45 - Buy products that are made from recycled materials. Anything from toilet rolls, a table, to a phone.
46 - Make a suggestion in your family to stick to one Xmas present or even better create something instead or plant something.
47 - Become a material minimalist. Don't try to own everything instead borrow it, hire it, exchange it or make it.
48 - Mend your old clothes. Maintenance goes a long way.
49 - Buy second-hand furniture.
50 - Consider fixing stuff once it gets broken before you throw it away or buy a new one.
51 - Holiday in your own country. If you cant face it can you travel by train instead?
Sourced from Sarah Bridle's 'Climate Change & Food Without The Hot Air' Free Ebook
52 - Use fewer cosmetics and use up what you have before you buy anything new. Don’t buy 3 shampoos at the same time. Replace stuff once you used one up. (I did a little experiment. I have decided to use up all of my hotel travel shampoos, soaps, etc. and I promised myself to not buy one until I finish them all. It has taken over 4 years and I am finally coming to the end of my hotel samples). It is not sustainable to hoard stuff and then chuck it away as it is out of date.
53 - Recycle your old electronics. Some of them have valuable metals that can be re-used and at times are extremely rare and in great demand. Find a local recycling centre and never throw it away in a bin. Some shops take their stuff back. If it is in a good condition get it fixed if not they will happily take it away to recycle it.
54 - Recycle your batteries. Yes, I mean those supermarkets that have facilities to drop them off there. Do the same with print cartridges.
55 - Only use washing machine, dishwasher, fridge, and oven IF full. Inefficiency in using white goods is huge! It only becomes efficient if used in great capacity. Do you mostly, or only, eat out? It is more efficient to eat out if you are single from a climate point of view. You basically can get rid of your white-goods entirely or just cook with family or in the company of friends.
56 - Stop changing your clothes after a single-use. Unless it's underwear or you have smelly feet no one can justify wearing clothes once before you put them into a washing machine. I used to be guilty of it myself but it is a silly habit. (Unless you fall into a muddy puddle you have no excuse) Similarly, don’t put your clothes in a washing machine after one session of exercise. When I exercise I push myself and I will soak with sweat. I suggest you can instead hang your clothes to air dry them, and they will be absolutely fine to use 3/4 even 5 times before you put them in a washing machine, and they won't smell. You will greatly contribute to the reduction of the microplastics from clothes that pollute our oceans.
57 - Don’t dry your clothes in a dryer. If you can hang them outside. It is free energy which is plentiful in the UK due to its plentiful windy weather.
58 - Recycle all you can.
59 - If you have to buy new clothes buy those which are made out of eco-materials. There are plenty of new materials that are gentler on our planet, now. For instance, clothes made out of apples, pineapple, bamboo, and much more. Sustainable materials clothes production is on a rise and the price is coming down too.
60 - Try to buy new cosmetics with fewer chemicals in them. They are more expensive to buy and to produce, but you can learn to use them less frequently and you can reduce the amount you use or try to mix and match until you can commit fully to chemicals free products.
61 - The same goes for chemical-free cleaning products. There are many cheap tips on the internet on how to clean without using any bad chemicals cleaning products. Just have a read.
62 - At our home we love reading but as the pile of books kept growing we had to take a different approach. Gift books after you read them or sell them if you need a little cash. Join a library, get a kindle, or swap books. You don't need to own all the books.
63 - Stop using plastic bags, single-use plastic cutlery, straws, toothbrushes, and anything made out of plastic - single-use plastic. Just say NO to them or opt for greener alternatives at least.
64 - Stop buying your food wrapped in plastic.
65 - Stop buying plastic toys for children or get second hand instead. Consider wooden toys.
66 - Use your reusable coffee cup (after pandemic when again permitted), water bottle, and sustainable tap-aware.
67 - Ladies opt for moon cup, sustainable tampons, or sustainable sanitary pads if you haven't done already.
68 - Stop or limit to a minimum, foods that are made with unsustainable Palm Oil and or are GM.
69 - Don’t buy leather products. It’s the 21st century! There are many sustainable alternatives out there, now. I would not recommend throwing away the leather stuff you already own. We can educate ourselves but let’s don't waste the past resources.
70 - Short “moment or one-off” packaging. For instance, Christmas presents wrappings, birthday presents wrappings, and anything that is packed for a short moment and is going to be thrown away. Either refuse it or use degradable eco-materials.
71 - Resole your shoes. A little maintenance goes a long way.
72 - Switch to a bar of shampoo and a solid bar of soap that doesn't have any plastic packaging. Aim for those products.
73 - Don’t wash your hair every day. I used to wash my hair every other day as I worked in an office and I exercised regularly. These days I easily do 7 days without washing my hair and it is absolutely fine. It is actually healthier for you and if you just air your hair after a workout all will be well. Your hair will actually improve in quality too.
74 - Minimise usage of your hairdryer. Yes, another little energy exhausting machine. Just use a dryer if you must go to an event or a special occasion. Once again it is not that healthy for you after all.
75 - Join Extinction Rebellion (XR) or Fridays For Future (F4F) or Parents For Future - (or other Green educational or activists groups ) where you can learn about climate issues and what to do about them.
76 - Pay attention to climate change news and think about what it means. Open a dialogue with your friends and ask them what do they think about it.
77 - Listen to podcasts on climate change subjects.
78 - Do a little climate change research to educate yourself on a specific subject which interests you. Starting small is better than nothing.
79 - Sign petitions on the subjects of climate change.
80 - Sign up for climate-related events where you get your brain stretched, further educated and at times you will get to hear stuff directly from the experts and you will be able to ask your own questions on the subject.
81 - Work locally unless you can work online globally. Do stuff locally rather than traveling far away distances mindlessly. Being a person who gets on the flight weekly is outdated and extremely fossil fuel-intensive.
82 - Improve our cities. Become a voice for change in your town or city. Demand more green spaces, pedestrian zones, and cycle lanes by regularly emailing your MP.
83 - Become aware of climate impacts that might affect your home. If you live by the sea, are you vulnerable to sea-level rises? Or if you live in a flood-prone area, will you be vulnerable to intense downpours that are forecast due to more extreme weather? Make sure you have a resilient home to future impacts.
84 - Less is more. No one can tell you how many children you should have and it is a quite difficult conversation to have with religious or non-religious people. The answer is in the title of this point.
85 - Adopt a child.
86 - Adopt a dog/cat.
87 - Have a conversation, start a discussion about climate change subjects with your friends and family. Are you worried about climate change? How can you express that without sounding over the top?
88 - Teach your children about sustainability as a way of living. For instance not wasting food. Caring for nature.
89 - If you are single for whatever reason. Consider renting your spare rooms out in your place or move back with your parents if that is an option.
90 - Stop using Amazon as regularly as you do.
91 - Support green, sustainable music festivals, and events, only. The UK has one of the biggest festival audiences in the world. It’s in its DNA. There are now festival companies that had recently (before the pandemic) went 100% sustainable.
92 - Go to events that raise money for green initiatives in your community.
93 - Donate money to green projects.
94 - Read books and or watch documentaries on climate change subjects.
95 - Set up a community climate change club to exchange ideas with your neighbours or friends. Get active.
96 - If you are planning to build your house don't use concrete but opt for more eco-building materials. Such as wood which locks up carbon or eco-concrete that uses less water and is less emissions-intensive.
97 - Use any envelope or any paper which has one side blank for any notes whilst working etc.
98 - Think before you print.
99 - Glass jars - multiple uses. How about using empty glass jars from different products for your kitchen storage? (herbs, spices or nuts and seeds) Previous generations always made use of things at least twice. Can you think of other products that can be re-used? I always keep some of the delivery packagings to re-use when I need to post something.
100 - Use products and services that clearly display their green credentials and if they don’t, ask for them. Eg. the more we ask for businesses to show us their carbon footprint the more compelled they will be to do it.
101 - Write your own ECO list and please share it with me, I would love to read it.
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