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7 easy impactful ways to combat climate change.



I don't know about you but being stuck at home in lockdowns had me seeking out local green spaces and I realised I didn't miss the shops or going into built up areas. The lockdowns seemed to have positive impact on the environment, with lower emissions, animals venturing into places they'd usually avoid etc... and it was generally more peaceful to walk down the street without all the traffic on the roads! This got me thinking, and I think many of us thinking... about what more we can do to help the planet.



This article explains several simple steps we can all take to ensure a greener future. Before we get to that, lets run down some of the environmental events of the last year.


-Massive wild fires ravaged Australia, Asia, Europe, the USA, C/S America, Africa and the Middle East.

-Major flash floods occurred on an unprecedented scale in Asia, Europe and the US.


So at this tipping point, what can we do individually to help tip things back in the right direction?


Well... did you know that the average Brit creates a carbon footprint of around 12-13 tons every year. In Canada it's 15 tons, Australia 16 and for Americans it's been estimated at 16-17 tons... These numbers can seem quite abstract, so to put them in perspective, it's estimated it takes the average tree around 100 years over the course of it's lifetime to remove 1 ton of carbon...

Shocked? I was!


Our personal carbon emissions add up so it’s important to start making changes at an individual level- particularly if we're fortunate enough to live in societies with access to green alternatives.

Unfortunately it’s not enough to rely on government or big businesses to do something because they're hamstrung by the need to be re-elected or make a profit. The drastic changes required would predictably impact both of those things. However, even if drastic change WAS achieved at government level... there is no magic bullet, and although tree planting and new technologies help, there needs to be a multi-pronged approach because once the carbon is out there, it's out there, and it's adding up... so the sooner we take individual steps, however small or imperfect, the better!

 

Interesting Fact:


Different trees remove different amounts of carbon at different rates, according to type, location, nutrients, size and age etc. Saplings remove far less Co2 from the atmosphere, and it can take 10+ years for a tree to reach adulthood. So it's hard to calculate precisely, but it's thought the average adult tree removes approximately 20-21kg of Co2 from the atmosphere per year, 1 ton = 907kg, so assuming it's 20kg... this means it would take approximately 45 adult trees to remove 1 ton of carbon in 1 year.


= Approximate number of adult trees needed for an average person in these countries to net zero each year:


540-585 for a Brit

675 for a Canadian

720 for an Ozzie

720-765 for an American


 

At the end of this article there's a link to an online calculator I highly recommend, it allows you to work out your own personal carbon footprint and gives personal recommendations for how you can lower it.


In the mean time, here are some simple and effective actionable:


WAYS TO HELP COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE TODAY:




In the UK I use Octopus Energy and I highly recommend them. I've been with them roughly 5 years now, they were incredibly easy to switch to, their customer service is a-mazing and they answer calls super quickly. Integrity is at the heart of their business model so they're very clear and transparent. Their website and billing are super straightforward and easy to use AND you get 50 quid off your first bill when you sign up with this link. There is also no minimum length of contract or charge for switching to a different provider, so if you decide they aren't for you it doesn't cost you a dime to change your mind -you just saved a bunch of money for a month and helped out the planet.


 




It's thought changing where your money's invested could actually have an impact 21x greater than going vegan, stopping flying and switching to a green energy supplier, all put together...! There are approximately £2.6 trillion invested in UK pensions, much of which fuels harmful industries like fossil fuels, tobacco, weapons and industries causing damage directly to our habitat through deforestation.


Backed by the WWF and many other organisations aiming for change, Make My Money Matter is a campaign fighting for us to have a say in where our pension money goes, with the aim of having it invested towards building a better future rather than in some of the worlds dirtiest companies. You can sign their campaign directly targeting some of the biggest pension funds, or if yours isn't listed, you can sign their petition here, for an overarching change in the way pension money is invested.


Find out more by listening to a podcast on this issue here:


Read more about it here:


Not something you can do today, but it's worth noting that it's not just pension pots that are heavily investing in non green business. Governments worldwide subsidise, support and invest in fossil fuels, farming and fishing industries. Voting Green in your next election may seem like a wasted vote, however, the larger the percentage of the electorate that vote Green, even if they win no actual seats, will push mainstream parties to up their Green policy game in order to focus on trying to win over those votes at the next election. It's one of the best ways you can push governments to come up with better strategies for a cleaner, more sustainable future.


 



Eat less meat and fish


I know this is a controversial topic, but aside from the obvious cruelty, there's no getting around the fact that the majority of land degradation, deforestation, and a large portion of greenhouse gasses comes from farming livestock (if you're not convinced, Cowspiracy on Netflix will help you on your way...). Producing meat is far more resource and labour intensive because of the need to separately grow the crops to feed the animals first- two lots of land, two lots of resources- for a very small number of meals produced per animal, and the amount of land needed to rear animals is generally larger than that needed to cultivate the same quantity of crops for human consumption. They also as we all know, release large amounts of methane, directly affecting global warming.


At the same time, the overfishing of seas and use of trawlers which devastate the seabed is contributing to a marine eco-system breakdown (check out documentary Seaspiracy...), this also contributes to global warming because like our forests, the sea captures a large amount of carbon, but only if it's eco-system is in balance.


"Over the global ocean, phytoplankton absorb about four times as much carbon dioxide as the Amazon does... a portion of the carbon absorbed by phytoplankton sinks into the deep, and stays there for hundreds to thousands of years until the ocean slowly brings it back up to the surface... a much smaller amount of the carbon taken up by trees is sequestered from the atmosphere for that long," - " Dr Cael, scientist at The National Oceanography Centre in the UK.


Phytoplankton rely on marine animals and fish to thrive, so as these are over fished, phytoplankton will diminish and so will the oceans ability to capture and store greenhouse gases.


In both cases -meat and fish, our appetite and population growth rate mean the rate at which we're projected to consume these animals is not sustainable, both in terms of land mass needed to cultivate them and level of fish left in the oceans. If the majority of people committed to eating meat or fish only 2 days a week, or 2-5 meals a week, we would see an astronomical reduction in the amount consumed and farmed globally. But even if this seems too difficult a target -imperfectly attempting to reduce your impact is a hell of a lot better than feeling like you need to be perfect so not starting at all, or falling off the band waggon after 2 months... just think if everyone globally ate 40% less meat and fish... that 40% reduction would have a massive impact...


I admit as an ex-athlete I used to be someone who ate animal protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day. I now generally eat it 2-5 times a week, more in line with the Mediterranean diet shown to be prevalent in Blue Zones (areas with very high average life expectancy).


I went vegan in 2020, but after developing some health problems was advised to include animal protein to make sure I get the right levels of nutrients. So I'm on a personal learning curve, but for now, reduction is better than not making a change. -and for you, even if that means cutting down from 21 meals a week, to 14 meals a week -less is less.


The more people do this, the more consumer trends change globally, and the more farmers adapt to those trends and hopefully stop contributing to deforestation as well! Perhaps even use some of their land for green projects and maybe even reforestation... 💁‍♀️🤞 -a lot of farmers are using land for solar farms now...



 



Use ESCOSIA


- they use the ad revenue generated from searches to plant trees- around 45 searches = 1 tree planted -you get a personal counter so you can see how many you’ve contributed, this non-profit is completely transparent about their finances and methods, and bonus unlike google they won't collect and sell your data! This makes them not only amazing for the environment- but honestly just amazing for you and your privacy.


Not convinced -check out their how:


 




For the cost of a coffee your monthly subscription plants 12 trees each month and offsets your personal carbon footprint through gold standard carbon offsetting methods, this means you have a positive environmental impact and help to reduce carbon emissions even while you wait for your trees to grow 🥳 You can also do a pay as you go version or they have an API/app that syncs with your business to plant trees per sale.

One of the reasons I particularly like Ecologi is they are extremely transparent, you can actually view their business accounts and transactions in real time. They also have a cute tracker so you can see your forest bloom and grow 🪴🌳🌴


My current forest count:



 



Where Possible Buy Local, Seasonal and Avoid Single Use Plastic


In addition to eating less meat and fish, selecting fruit and vegetables that grow locally and aren't packaged in lots of plastic will also go a long way. I personally think it's ludicrous now there are viable biodegradable non-plastic wrapping options that fruit and veg in supermarkets are still routinely covered in plastic.


It's easy to think one persons habits won't make a difference on this front, but as consumer trends shift so do commercial buying strategies. I think we can all agree there are far more vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options on the shelves than there were 5 years ago... so... if what's popular ends up being locally sourced food not wrapped in heaps of plastic...! That is what will end up on shop shelves as well.


In the mean time... packaging free refill shops are popping up all over... and farms shops are great for picking up fresh produce -literally what could be better than getting super fresh food direct from the source?! 💁‍♀️


It's worth doing some research on what's available to you -I had no idea how many options were in my area until I started looking into it.


 


Educate Yourself and Get Friends and Family to Think Green


- by watching, sharing and talking about insightful articles, podcasts, documentaries and TED talks you can impact other peoples behaviour too...


Some I've found gripping and informative regarding the environment are:

 

TED TALK Selections:



 

Podcasts




Spotify Original: How To Save A Planet:




America Adapts- The Climate Change Podcast:

Extreme Heat Regulation (or lack of it) with Dr. Kelly Turner


Mongabay Newscast: News From Nature:


 

Docus:






 




- Developing a greener business model is great for everyone concerned. Whilst actually changing the way a business does business takes time and that may not be something you can impact today, you can help develop a greener company ethos by encouraging greener choices (whether that be not having single use cups, cutlery or straws in the staff caf -replacing them with reusable options, or getting your company to recycle if it doesn't already, or to swap packaging to a biodegradable option, or even suggesting switching to a green energy supplier!).


If your company sells products- get them to sign up for One Tree Planted or as perviously mentioned Ecologi to plant one tree per product sold -not only does this add greater impact and appeal to products but it also encourages brand trust so it's a win win. You can of course also encourage your company to sign up to Ecologi For Business to offset monthly company carbon emissions and plant trees per employee as well 💃🌿