by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 27th September, 2019
Climate change is in the news, as more and more people become concerned about the welfare of our planet. On Friday the 20th of September, thousands took to the streets to protest climate change and to urge governments to make global warming and climate change a top priority.
If you're wondering what you can do to take part in the battle against global climate change, here are 10 ways you can make a difference.
One of the most influential factors in the progress of climate change is the activities of our governments. Without laws and restrictions put in place to make sure that we can reach our carbon goals and reduce carbon outputs globally, we may never see significant change.
As such, urging global leaders and local politicians to make preventing climate breakdown a priority and implement policies to reduce carbon output can be very effective, especially if done in large enough numbers.
There are thousands of protests happening all over the world, and many organizations facilitating them that you can get involved in.
Plastic is posing a huge problem for the welfare of our ecosystems. A significant percentage of the plastic we throw away ends up polluting the environment.
Not only that but in order to produce plastics, we must burn fossil fuels, contributing to even more carbon being emitted into the atmosphere. As such, reducing your plastic consumption and helping to reduce the demand for plastic products and packaging can help to reduce the amount of plastic polluting the planet.
There are many ways to do this, such as using a reusable coffee cup, straws and cutlery when buying food. Shopping locally and using reusable bags, avoiding buying plastic toys and using reusable containers to store your food. All of these little actions add up to create a significant reduction in your plastic consumption over time.
Travel is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions. Fumes from cars and planes, in particular, cause a massive amount of carbon to be emitted into the atmosphere every single day.
As such, changing the way we travel or reducing our travel altogether can make a significant difference to our individual carbon footprints. One common example is your commute to work. If you drive, could you take part in a car-share, or switch to public transport. Even better, could you walk or cycle to work?
Rather than taking a flight to go on holiday this year, could you use public transport, take a boat or go on a road-trip instead? Even just one long-haul flight can double your carbon footprint, so it's worth avoiding them if you can.
The way our food is produced has a huge impact on the planet, from the emissions of the animals themselves, to the production of grain to feed those animals, to the environmental cost of transporting the end product to stores worldwide - every step of the production chain has a deadly cost for the planet, which is why changing your eating habits can have such a profound impact on your carbon footprint.
One of the best ways to reduce the impact of your diet on the planet is to reduce your meat and dairy intake - since these tend to be the products that produce the most greenhouse gases, take up the most space and use up the most water.
Incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet and switching regular products such as dairy milk for a plant-based alternative can drastically reduce your carbon footprint, even if you're not ready to go fully plant-based yet.
Our energy expenditure has become very reckless, with many people all over the globe using a lot more energy than they actually need, usually out of convenience or forgetfulness.
Simple mistakes such as leaving the lights on, forgetting to turn the AC off when you leave the house or leaving a window open whilst you have the heating on can all build up to increase your carbon footprint. The collective impact of millions of people making these mistakes can have a much bigger effect.
Therefore, making a concerted effort to reduce our energy consumption, even if it doesn't feel like it's going to make a difference, can make a big impact not only on your own carbon footprint - but on societies as well.
Switching to renewable energy sources to supply your power is an excellent way to reduce your impact on the planet and prepare for a more sustainable future. If we want to transition away from a society built upon fossil fuels, then we'll all need to figure out ways to gain our power from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydroelectric.
If you're not in a position yet where you can install solar panels on top of your house or a wind farm in your backyard, don't worry - there are still ways to switch over your power.
Many energy providers now offer either partial or complete renewable energy plans, which means you can switch your service over and have your home run on 100% renewable energy in as little as 10 minutes.
Sometimes, trying to reduce your impact on the planet feels like fighting a losing battle. The only way we can make true, lasting change is by coming together to combat climate change as a whole, which is why it's so important to come together with and encourage others in your community.
If you're not sure where to start, look for what's already going on by searching for community center notice boards, online facebook groups or community gardens.
If there's nothing in your area - make one and get your neighbors involved. You could create a community composting center, an educational point, or organize protests to encourage your local government to make changes.
As discussed before, one of the most significant contributions to greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere is transport, but not just the transport of humans - the transport of our food and other material goods, often from all over the world, has a colossal impact on global greenhouse gas emissions.
You can help to mitigate this by buying local, from small businesses that make their products close to where you buy them. This way, you cut out 90% of the transport emissions, and you can support your local economy.
Buying from local farmer's markets, supporting community gardens and shopping in local fairs and small high-street stores are just some of the places you'll be able to find locally made produce.
If you want to see more environmentally-friendly policies implemented by your government, the best way to do this is to vote for candidates who prioritize these initiatives.
By voting and campaigning for these candidates, you may well also raise the profile of environmental issues in your community and further abroad.
Water wastage is becoming a big problem. The majority of the water on the planet is not fresh, potable drinking water. As the global population continues to expand, we are going to have to become more conservative with our water consumption in order to make sure that everybody has enough to drink.
Reducing your water consumption now, by switching to eco-friendly washing machines and dishwashers, installing a composting toilet or simply switching from baths to shower can make a difference.