Written by Terri Witherden
One of the biggest barriers to believing we can make a difference to the warming of the planet is the sheer scale of the problem. Phrases like “greenhouse gases” or “global warming” are common in the media and our day-to-day lives but, in the face of the big numbers, it is easy to wonder: “What can I do?”.
Luckily for us (and everything else on the planet), the best way to combat large problems is not with one massive action, but with lots of small actions completed consistently. Small actions compound to create big results and cultural shifts – exactly what is needed to start lowering CO2 emissions and reversing the climate warming trend.
The big question “What can I do?” has more than one answer. Here’s a few of our favourite ways you can reduce your personal CO2 emissions on the go. The best bit? These actions are not asking for radical shifts in your lifestyle or asking you to go without, but the CO2 saved with these simple swaps can really add up to make a difference if more and more of us adopt them. Let’s get going!
Consider your Journey – can you leave the car at home?
We’re not suggesting you sell your car and ride your fixie bike for the rest of your life. We are suggesting, however, that with a little foresight and planning you can leave the car at home more than you realise.
Aim to leave your car at home for short journeys under three miles (which take around only 20 minutes to cycle or 45 minutes to walk) and you’ll not only be saving CO2 regularly, but upping your daily calorie burn too. It’s a win-win.
Jetting off? Offset your emissions with trees!
Flying remains one of the quickest ways to travel long distance - you can literally be on the other side of the world in a day! However, flying is one of the biggest contributors to CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) in our atmosphere and a leading cause of air pollution - especially around airports and busy flight paths.
It may not be available to everybody to put their passport back in the drawer, especially if you travel for work or live long-distance from your family, but you can still help our climate. Many airlines now allow you to opt-in to offsetting your flight by paying a charge which they’ll invest into environmental projects or alternative sustainable energy research.
Alternatively you can find your own organisation to support with a pledge whenever you fly. Forestry organisations such as Tree Sisters or Hometree will use your pledge to plant and protect trees. This may not offset your flight emissions instantly (it takes time for a tree to grow enough to start absorbing larger scales of CO2) but more trees can only be a good thing.
Another powerful way to reduce your CO2 emissions is to alter your grocery shopping habits. There is an ever increasing demand from consumers for local, sustainable food options and a return to a more localised food production system. Many of us are going back to the source of our food (farms and greengrocers) and cut out the middle man (supermarkets) in order to save money, increase freshness and reduce the food miles associated with our dinner plates.
You eat every day, and with every meal choice you are given the opportunity to reduce your CO2. If you know you’ll be eating on the go, you can reduce your CO2 by planning ahead and bringing your own lunch. Many on-the-go food options are expensive and over packaged, boosting your personal CO2 footprint with the energy used to create the plastic your lunch comes in. Bring your own lunch in a reusable lunchbox (glass is great here, but even an old-school reusable plastic lunch box lowers your CO2 imprint) and opt for seasonal foods from your local region where you can. Check where your food is coming from and you can be kind to both your body and the planet.
Make it easier by tracking it
One of the biggest ways you can reduce your CO2 footprint is simply by measuring it. It can be scary at first as you see how your actions contribute to CO2 production, but everyone has to start somewhere. If you can measure something, you can improve it. Simply understanding our impact is one of the most powerful actions we can take as individuals. That’s why we’re developing The Climate App.
We’re creating a fun, communal resource for individuals and their friends to track and share their progress when reducing CO2. It’s a practical way to see your impact in real time and encourages small swaps which lead to big changes every day. This is where we can all make a difference and answer the big question we started with: “What can I do?”
Will you pledge to help us make The Climate App happen? Please click here to read more about our mission!