by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 13th March, 2019
There's no denying that climate change is catching up to us, and it can seem hopeless to even bother in the face of such a big problem - but that doesn't mean that that we shouldn't try at all.
Earth day is fast approaching, so in preparation - here are 12 things you can do to help save the planet.
Start with the basics - do you even know how much of an impact you have on the planet? Probably not, but you can easily find out using online calculators like the WWF Footprint Calculator.
Although they won't give you an exact result, it's a great way to get a rough idea of how you affect the planet and what you can do about it, and you can even compare your results to that of the 2020 Emissions Targets.
So, for example: I produce about 7.1 tonnes of Carbon every year, which is lower than the average but still not great - and a lot of that comes from travelling and eating imported fruits and vegetables, so I know that's where I need to improve.
Single use plastics are out - coffee cups, plastic bags, plastic water bottles pile up in their billions in our landfills and oceans, contributing to loss of biodiversity and microplastics making their way into the water system.
There are lots of swaps you can make to reduce your usage of single use plastics - from buying a reusable coffee cup, reusable cotton bags, metal water bottles, metal straws and much more. It may not seem like much, but it all helps in the long run.
The production of meat and dairy both contribute massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, whether it be from the livestock, the transport, or the food created to feed the animals. By cutting down on your meat and dairy consumption you can drastically reduce your carbon footprint, without even having to do anything.
Depending on where you live, this may be more accessible to you than others. However, beach cleanups are a great way to get out there and be an active participant in fighting against pollution, so it's worth making the trip even if you live a little while away.
Every year, literally billions of pounds of plastic are dumped into the oceans, and a good percentage of that plastic ends up washing onto beaches, where it can choke and kills local wildlife. Although a beach cleanup doesn't get rid of the plastic, it does mean you can send it off to be stored appropriately, where it's less likely to harm the environment.
If there's a popular beach near you, have a look for beach cleanup days - they are often advertised on facebook as events you can join, and if you can't find any - make one yourself!
All you need is a group of willing volunteers, some litter pickers and plenty of large, sturdy bin bags. When you're in a large group picking up litter, it's a lot more fun and a lot less overwhelming.
If you don't have a beach near you, there will likely still be some sort of cleanup you can attend, whether its a local forest, a nearby river or canal, or even just the streets of your town.
With a changing climate, increasing urbanisation and a serious pollution problem, native wildlife is suffering all over the globe. By raising money for local wildlife charities you can help the people on the frontline tackle this problem.
Whether it be preventing the destruction of certain wildlife, rescuing and treating animals, providing new habitats for them to thrive in or combating pollution, local wildlife charities do a lot to help.
You don't have to do a marathon to fundraise either, you could go out with a collection bucket, start a bake sale or complete a sponsored challenge.
Bee hotels are a great way for you to encourage local flora and fauna to thrive. All it is is a safe dwelling for bees to make a nest.
In the US, Bumble Bee's are now considered an endangered species, which is bad news for all of us - since bees are the primary pollinator of our food, in other words, they are the reason we have food to eat.
By providing a safe space for them to create a nest, you can ensure that the next generation of bees survive.
Plastic isn't our only problem - the production of common household products such as shampoo, dish washing soap, foil, milk cartons and much much more is also taking it's toll on the environment.
Whether it's toxic run-off from the production of the clothes you wear, or the harsh chemicals used to make your laundry detergent - the vast majority of the everyday products we use and aren't that great for the environment.
There are alternatives however, that you can switch to. Whether it's eco-friendly disinfectant, thrifted clothes, shampoo bars, reusable silicone baking sheets or biodegradable coffee filters. Do some research on where you can improve and get swapping.
Zero Waste is a growing movement focused on reducing or eliminating your landfill waste. The average person throws out over 100 pounds of plastic waste every year, plastic that will take thousands of years to start biodegrading and in the meantime, will sit in landfills and pollute the environment.
Reducing your plastic usage however, can help to combat this problem and that's why the zero waste movement was started. Of course, no one is truly able to achieve a fully zero waste lifestyle in our current system, since plastic is quite literally everywhere, and the idea of giving up all plastic can be quite daunting.
A zero waste week encourages you to think more about your waste, where you can improve and what you ca cut out, without the pressure of trying to do it all perfectly.
A good percentage of your carbon footprint will likely be taken up by your food consumption, and although cutting out meat and dairy is a good way to lower those emissions, that doesn't mean the problem is solved.
Many of us buy our foods from the shops without a second thought as to where it came from or how many carbon emissions were pumped into the air to get it there - but we should be. The cost of transporting fruit, vegetables and grains from across the world takes a huge toll on the environment.
The majority of this produce will be either flown in by air or carried in massive shipping containers across the oceans. Neither of these methods are particularly environmentally friendly, but you can help to cut down on those emissions by choosing locally sourced produce, that didn't have to travel far to get to you.
By choosing foods that can be grown in your country and are in season, you can get local produce for cheaper, and hopefully support a local business too.
You can now power your home through renewable energy, without ever having to install a solar panel.
How? By switching to a renewable energy provider. In the UK there are several different providers that offer the option of using renewable energy to power your home.
This energy will likely come from offshore wind farms, solar panels or hydroelectric generators. This way, you can power your home, safe in the knowledge that no greenhouse gases were emitted just to make your cup of coffee.
Want to get more vocal about your concern for the environment? Campaigning is the perfect way to do so.
There are plenty of different organisations and campaigns specialising in environmental justice to join and fight for. The Earth Day Network even has an official list of campaigns you can get involved with.
If you aren't sure whether protesting on the streets is for you, there are plenty of other ways you can campaign, be it through social media, with flyers or by volunteering your time to help out with the more technical tasks of a campaign.
Around one third of all the food in the world gets lost Might not look or sound pretty - but a compost bin is an awesome way to prevent food waste and directly help the ground beneath your feet.
You may already live in a country that provides food bins for you to use, and if so, take advantage of that - but if not, its easy to create a compost bin at home. All you need to start is a sealable plastic container to put your scraps. If you have friends or neighbours with a compost bin, ask to contribute your scraps to theirs every week and create a communal compost.