by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 25th July, 2019
We have a huge plastic problem currently ravaging the planet. Once a plastic product is made, it doesn't disappear for hundreds of years.
We are now seeing the repercussions of our obsession with plastic products quite literally clogging up the oceans - one example being the pacific garbage patch, a gigantic gyre of plastic marine debris and particles swirling around in the pacific ocean.
Cutting down on plastic is difficult, because it's everywhere, but there are ways we can improve. One area is our disposable food waste. How many coffee cups, straws, knives and forks have you thrown away in your lifetime? More than you can count probably.
Switching to reusable cups and cutlery that you can carry around in your bag may seem small, but it adds up day by day.
Not everyone can just buy a bunch of solar panels and install them on the roof - but did you know that you can switch to 100% renewable electricity, without even having to lift a finger?
Many large energy providers are now offering the option to get either some or all of your electricity from their renewable sources, whether that be wind, solar or hydroelectric.
All you need to do is find a provider that offers this (yours may already!) and switch over.
As a self-identified environmentalist, I was very happy to find out that my carbon footprint was below the national average and in line with the 2020 carbon output goals.
This all changed however, when I booked a flight to Australia. Suddenly I went from being "in the green" to being well into the red. One long haul flight can produce more carbon that you will in a whole year.
That's scary. And as much as we all love escaping on tropical adventures, perhaps it's time more of us started to take less flights and vacation closer to home instead. Explore your own country, or drive to the next country over.
Farming meat and dairy animals requires a lot of space, a lot of resources and produces a lot more methane and carbon than the equivalent amount of food in plants.
Modern livestock agricultural practices are producing huge amounts of greenhouse gases, but we can all help to cut down on these by reducing our consumption of meat and dairy. There are lot's of delicious meat and dairy alternatives on the market that make reducing your intake of meat and dairy a lot easier - who knows, you may even find that you prefer tofu!?
In the same way that taking a long distance flight ups your carbon footprints, so does paying for the food you consume to take a long distance journey.
A lot of our food that comes from abroad gets here by way of large ships or as air cargo, both of which have a pretty terrible track record when it comes to the environment. Both produce a lot of greenhouse gases and use a lot of fossil fuel.
How can we combat this? Easy - eat more local, seasonal foods. By buying locally, you're not only contributing to your own local economy, you're also saving a lot of time and pollution.
Eating seasonally can also help, because the majority of foods that we eat out-of-season have to be shipped from overseas. Instead, eat the produce that is naturally growing in your own country.
It's not possible for everyone to go out and plant a million trees or clean up the oceans. We have jobs, families and lives to take care of, and understandably this can make taking action against climate change harder.
One thing you can do however, is to donate to organisations who do have the power to make a difference. There are plenty of different organisations out there to donate to, such as the WWF, Sea Shepard, Greenpeace and many more.
As consumers, we hold a lot of power in our hands, or more accurately, in our wallets. How and where you spend your money changes the environment, and our society. By choosing to buy products that are environmentally friendly, non-toxic, organic etc, you vote on the type of future you want.
The more people that vote = the more change we'll see. One area that you can make a change in, for example, is cleaning products. Many cleaning products are toxic and damaging to the environment, but there are alternatives that use organic, non-toxic ingredients that are safer for you and safer for the environment.
Investing in these means that hopefully, we will all one day be able to live in a world where our cleaning products don't harm the environment.
Putting yourself out there to volunteer can be very daunting at first, but it is also one of the best ways to make a tangible difference in your local community.
You may not realise it, but there are often a lot of environmental initiatives taking place right on your doorstep. It could be beach cleanups, planting trees, habitat regeneration or caring for injured wildlife. Whatever it is that floats your boat, have a look around for local organisations that you can get involved in.
Did you know that you can save the environment simply by searching for cookie recipes? Welcome to the wonderful world of Ecosia - a search engine that works in the same way that google does, but all of the money gained from advertisements goes to planting trees.
80% or more of the profits that the Ecosia search engine makes goes towards tree-planting programs. What's even better is that it's totally free! You can simply download ecosia as an extension chrome and start planting away.
Everyone has a voice, even if you feel like it won't make much of a difference. If even just one in every three people on the planet spoke out and against climate change and the destruction of the environment, we could completely change the outcome of the next few decades. Whether it be online or in person through protests and community action, every little helps.
Read here our earth day tips.