There’s no doubt we are in the midst of a climate crisis. It’s not just huge organisations that can make a difference by changing their behaviours. Just the smallest changes in how we live our lives can, collectively, make an enormous contribution towards climate change reversal.
Millions of people are already contributing. A recent global report from The Economist Intelligence Unit shows a 71% rise in online searches for sustainable goods globally over the past five years. According to Deloitte, the five sustainable brand practices that consumers value most are:
- waste reduction
- reducing carbon footprint
- providing sustainable packaging
- committing to ethical work practices
- respecting human rights.
It’s time to move beyond consumerism and start considering how and what we actually need, and why we need it.
How can I play my part in climate change reversal?
Become a more sustainable consumer
Being more careful with your money could not just help you spend less but will ensure you are doing your bit to minimise waste reduction. We’re all prone to impulse purchases and buying products we don’t really need or use, which is not just a waste of money, but a waste of materials and resources too. Before splashing the cash, it’s a good idea to answer the following questions
- Why do I need this product? Can I buy it second-hand or repair existing goods I own?
- Where can I buy this product? Can I support a local business and reduce distribution emissions?
- Which product should I buy? Is there a more sustainable alternative available?
- How can I dispose of this product sustainably at end of life? Can it be recycled?
Believe it or not, savings, pensions and mortgages can also damage the planet. As financial institutions seek to generate profit, you could well find that your hard-earned savings are being invested in fossil fuels, used to fund industrial polluters, or support oppressive political regimes. Choosing ethical banking partners is important to ensure your money is not just being looked after but helping to look after the planet too.
Eat more sustainably
The latest report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) on climate change and land delivered a stark warning that we must transform our land and food systems to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Food is responsible for around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, while agriculture is responsible for up to 70% of all freshwater taken from rivers and lakes.
By making more considered choices when it comes to what food we eat, where and how it has been produced, and where it comes from, we can reduce our impact on the planet. Adopting a more plant-based diet can reduce our reliance on cattle grazing. This is responsible for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions derived from methane and the production of feedstocks. In addition, only buying and cooking the amount we will eat will reduce waste. Buying locally from independent farm shops will ensure our money is being put back into more sustainable farming practices for the future.
Be more energy efficient
Reducing our reliance on traditional energy sources is critical if we reduce our environmental impact. One way of doing this is to ensure we have the right insulation in our homes to keep heat inside. In addition, transitioning towards more sustainable and renewable sources of energy will make a big difference. Heat pumps, solar panels and biomass systems can all provide more sustainable energy.
Switch to more sustainable forms of transportation
It’s not just at home where we potentially harm the planet, but while on the move too. The automotive industry is already accelerating towards electric vehicles in place of traditional internal combustion engines. However, going electric is only the start.
Car sharing and public transport will ensure fewer vehicles are on the road at any one time, reducing the environmental impact and freeing up potential traffic jams. Air travel also causes emissions so try to cut down the number of flights you take. Additionally, consider how you can offset the carbon you consume on a flight through other means if it is difficult to reduce your air schedule.
Embrace the circular economy
Embracing the circular economy and ensuring that resources are kept in use for as long as possible, and being recycled, remanufactured, reused or recovered at end of life is essential to climate change reversal. It’s also easy to do. Start by repairing products that have broken, rather than throwing them away and buying new ones. Frequent charity shops to buy new goods or use one of the many product-swapping websites that exist.
Thinking about when you could potentially generate waste and taking steps to reduce or eliminate that waste is also important. Buying and consuming only what you need is not just good for the planet – it’s also good for your wallet and will help you save money. Just ensure your savings are being looked after ethically!
Are you interested in learning more about how you can reduce your carbon footprint? Want to learn more about how you can make a difference through small behavioural changes? Take a look at our content collection.
About the author
Dr Denise Taylor is a qualified sustainability consultant who founded a family-run business, Wylde Connections, alongside her daughter in January 2020. The inception of Wylde brought together Denise’s knowledge, skills and experience gained over 30 years across three main disciplines: environmental education, strategic marketing communications, and learning and development. Find Denise on Linkedin.