Yep Brexit scares the sh1t out of me, but the climate emergency we are juggernauting towards is the big problem that’s keeping me up at night. I’ve always been an advocate for a greener planet, and used to work for an international development NGO too, but increasingly I’ve been feeling quiet desperation about what is going on in the world right now. I want to do more to reduce my carbon footprint but, honestly, have often felt like what is the point? An individual swapping to metal straws is a drop in the ocean to what needs to be done globally to have any kind of meaningful impact to limit the severe impact that global heating is going to have across the world.
Yet I’ve just spent the past half a day researching and reading online about climate change facts, how to reduce my carbon footprint, plastic waste and consumption and have realised that I can make a difference. Great Thunberg has a lot to answer for. If a 16 year old girl can make these radical changes across the world, I have no excuse. And if I make these small changes to reduce my carbon footprint and become more politically active to try to change and shape policy and legislation, then others can too. And if 100 people do this, it’s 99 more than just me. And if 10,000 do this, it’s starting to have a bigger impact.
I’ve made some easy changes to my immediate day to day life as well as come up with some ideas for longer-term changes, so I’ve written them down here as you may be feeling like I did too.
Lowering my household energy usage
I measured my carbon footprint (it was bad) and looked at ways to lower it. I’m already a vegetarian and don’t fly on planes much but my household energy usage was high as was my car usage.
Household energy use
My major problem is that I use the tumble drier too much, so I have bought an outdoor pulley line and some wooden pegs and worked out how our indoor pulley drier works. I’ve been lazy and that’s not good enough! I’ll also be turning down the washing machine temperature to 20-30 degrees unless it’s really dirty.
I also learnt that turning the thermostat down by as little as 1 degree can help as can only filling the kettle with as much as you need. I’ll be continuing to do these things. Our energy supplier is also already with Bulb, a renewable energy supplier.
I live just outside of London and need a car to get around, though I will be more conscious of whether we actually need to make the journey. I’ll make more effort to walk the kids to school, even in bad weather and will try to combine journeys where I can. We are also looking into getting an electric car (and moving back to London, where you don’t need a car!)
Reducing plastic waste
This is a massive issue for me. I’m a mother of two and I’m horrified at the amount of plastic we get through as a family. As well as causing massive damage to marine and river life (over 8 billion tonnes enters the sea each year, I mean wtf?!), the production of single-use plastics is contributing to carbon emissions and dumping of plastics into landfill also increases carbon emissions. It is mainly not biodegradeable and unfortunately not much gets to be recycled either. As well as signing a petition to get supermarkets to reduce their single use plastic, I’ve made some simple swaps. The old mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ still holds true. Best to decrease buying stuff in the first place, then try to reuse it. The last option should be to recycle.
Laundry – I’ve invested in an ecoegg, which means I no longer have to buy washing powder or fabric conditioner. The egg is reusable time and time again.
Cleaning – I’ve bought reusable wipes meaning I can ditch the baby wipes. I’ve bought Method and ecover cleaning products in the past and will continue to do so as they are less damaging to the environment and come in recyclable bottles.
Toilet roll – I’ve set up a subscription for Who gives a crap recycled toilet roll, which are wrapped in paper (and who also give 50% of their profits to charity).
Reusable beeswax wraps – I try not to use cling film anyway (I’ve been using foil which can be recycled) but even better is reusable wraps which can be used again ad again.
Bread – I’ve dug out the bread maker and will make bread again. No more plastic bread packaging.
Fruit and veg – This is where I feel most angry as our supermarkets are letting us down. I’ve googled my nearest greengrocer, where I’m more likely to be able to buy loose fruit and veg and will make the effort to visit them instead of the big supermarket.
Milk – I’ve signed up to a 3x week milk delivery. The milk comes in glass bottles which are reusable.
Meaningful shopping – Every time I note something down on my list, I’m going to look into what the alternative could be to avoid buying plastic, whether I could buy in bulk from somewhere like Suma to save on packaging in the longer term, or whether we actually need it at all.
Getting organised for days out – I’ve got into the routine of having the kids’ change bag stocked and ready to go, so all I need to do is remember to add these small items to it so I don’t get caught out:-
- Foldaway bag
- Reusable coffee cup
- Reusable water bottle
- Homemade lunch and snacks
- Set of cutlery
Getting clued up on plastics
I always recycle as much as I can, but I still get confused about what I can and can’t recycle. A quick google to my local council website was enough to help me. I’ve printed out a sheet of paper which tells me what can and can’t go in. Some things that cannot be recycled as household collection can be taken to the recycling centre, so I make sure I do this too every couple of months.
Being politically active
I’ve tended to shy away from demonstrations but Greta Thunberg’s actions have changed all that for me. I don’t want to look back on my actions in 20-30 years time and think I did nothing.
Swat up on the facts – I spent some time reading about the downright terrifying crisis we are in, and the facts to back it all up so that when people question me about it I feel confident to answer. If I can change just one person’s view or encourage them to make their own changes, then great.
March for climate and get involved – I’ve signed up to the Extinction Rebellion’s marches and will be going on two this autumn. I’ve also signed this petition to get the UK government to take urgent action on climate change.
Support the right cause – I know the Green Party won’t get in around where I live, but I’ve joined them for the year to support them, and I’ll attend some meetings to see what else I can do.
I’ll see how I go over the next two months and will write up another blog post detailing what has worked well to reduce my carbon footprint and what hasn’t.