Climate change (or global warming) is the process of our planet heating up.
The Earth has warmed by an average of 1°C in the last century, and although that might not sound like much, it does affect people and wildlife around the globe. The changing climate will actually make our weather more extreme and unpredictable.
You may have noticed that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense, sea levels are rising, prolonged droughts are putting pressure on food crops, and many animal and plant species are being driven to extinction.
If we all made small changes in our lives on a daily basis like driving and flying less, switching to a ‘green’ energy provider, changing our diet, recycling and reducing our food waste we have a better chance of contributing against climate change and making a difference.
While we can’t undo the damage caused to the environment, we can help decelerate the rate of change – and long-term, working together this will make a considerable difference.
Women Talking have highlighted several key areas we could all address to help you become more environmentally friendly in our everyday lives.
Reduce your home’s CO2 emissions, as well as lowering your energy bills:
Over the past 150 years, industrialised countries have been burning large amounts of fossil fuels such as oil and gas. The gases released into the atmosphere during this process act like an invisible ‘blanket’, trapping heat from the sun and warming the Earth. This is known as the “Greenhouse Effect”. This can now be avoided with costs dropping every day; renewable energy is the best choice for the environment and the economy.
Not everyone can install solar panels or a wind turbine; however, you can still be a part of the clean-energy economy. Search online for local renewable energy co-ops to join. By becoming a co-op member you will own a slice of its renewable energy projects and can get a return on your investment.
Get a home energy audit. A simple home energy audit can show how much energy your home consumes and give you tips on changes that can make things more efficient. This can significantly reduce a home’s carbon footprint.
Change lightbulbs to LEDs. Quality LED lightbulbs can last 25 times longer, are more durable, and use at least 75 per cent less energy than other bulbs.
Unplug computers, TVs and other electronics when you’re not using them.
Use a programmable thermostat.
Look for the Energy Star label when buying new appliances.
Insulate your home to prevent heat from escaping: double glazing, loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, and simple draught excluders
Wash your clothes on a cooler wash. Better still cold water. Studies have shown that washing in cold water is just as effective as using warm; this will reduce the greenhouse emissions produced in heating the water for your laundry.
Recycling – Sharing, making, fixing, upcycling, repurposing and composting are all good places to start.
Upcycle your furniture. This can be not only satisfying but innovative and environmentally smart. Consider using recycled materials—like pallets—or repurposing the furniture you already have instead of buying new.
Recycle your clothes. The environmental cost of manufacturing and distributing new clothes is vast. A handful of retailers offer recycling programs, however, charity shops are always looking for donations and there are Textile Banks available to offload your unwanted clothes if you care to find them.
Start composting. Transforming food scraps and lawn clippings into fresh, nutrient-rich soil gives home gardens a boost. Roughly 20 to 30 per cent of what we normally throw out can be composted.
Change your mode of transport
There are many ways to reduce your transportation emissions, these will also make you healthier, happier and save you a few pounds too. Whenever and wherever you can:
Take public transport,
Ride a bike,
Switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle.
If you have to drive make sure your tires are properly inflated. You can improve your petrol mileage by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. This means fewer trips to the petrol station and consequently a reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions.
Only wash your car in a self-serve car wash. It may seem better to wash your car at home, but it’s worse for the environment. Washing your car in the driveway causes polluted water to run into sewers, and you’ll likely keep the hose running too long. The best way to wash a car is at a self-serve station where they use less water.
The production of livestock is one of the single biggest contributors to our greenhouse gases. The meat industry contributes to global warming in three major ways:
Cows release lots of methane, a greenhouse gas from processing food. We feed them with other potential sources of food, like maize and soy, which makes for a very inefficient process. And finally, they also require lots of water and plenty of land – some of which come from cleared forests, another source of carbon emissions.
Becoming a vegan or vegetarian would cut the pollution impact. Boosting the economy in the process because people will have less dietary-related health issues as we will be looking and feeling better too.
Buy organic and local whenever possible.
Don’t waste food.
Grow your own.
Choose better options on the high street
Look for products bearing badges such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Energy Star or Better Cotton, and be safe in the knowledge that these types of non-profits organisations are working hard to protect the planet’s resources.
Educate Future Generations
Now is the time to start educating our children about climate change and its effects. This can be done at school, by parents and every simply through leading by example. If you have children, get them involved in making your lives greener. Give them the responsibility to make sure lights and plugs are turned off in their rooms each time, get them involved in recycling and other green initiatives, rewarding them for their good work.
Shop local. It’s simple, straightforward, and easy addition to your routine that supports local businesses provides community jobs and reduces transportation costs and carbon emissions.
Don’t drink bottled water. Landfills already contain more than 2 million tons of plastic bottles. And 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture water bottles every year. And those bottles take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade. Yeah, that reusable water bottle does sound like a good idea.
Switch to reusable bags and use them consistently. Plastic bags are incredibly destructive to the environment: They take hundreds of years to break down, contaminate soil and waterways, and cause widespread marine animal deaths. To combat the problem, cities and states around the country have enacted plastic bag bans or fees on single-use bags.