We’ve featured a number of blog posts detailing the simple things you can do to help reduce your impact on the planet, the little things that are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle or your daily routine. Now we’re going to be taking a look at the big things that you can do. The things that may take a bit more effort, that may even take a complete shift in lifestyle. But things that will make the biggest impact in reducing your impact. Do you want to have a tiny little carbon footprint and live as if we only have one planet between all 6,602,224,175 of us? You do? Read on.
1. Become a vegan
This is one of the biggest lifestyle changes on this list, and the one that will take the most getting used to. It is also the change that will make the most impact on the size of your carbon footprint. If you can’t bear the idea of making such a huge change overnight, at least make the change to being a vegetarian, and you may eventually feel ready to switch to a vegan lifestyle. While there are various arguments against meat eating, emotional, physical and environmental, we’re going to stick with the environmental issues here. Back in November of 2006 the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization made public their findings that “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport.” Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch went on to say that ““Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation." Before then the University of Chicago had already produced research showing how diet impacts the environment, and that a vegetarian or vegan diet can have more effect on your carbon footprint than switching from a gas-guzzler to a hybrid car.
There is lots of help available to ease you into a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. These links will provide you with confirmation of the reasons why you should be giving up meat, as well as suggestions of how to live as a vegetarian/vegan and recipes to get you started.
Post Punk Kitchen – online TV vegan cookery show and recipe archive
Acti-Veg – veggie inspiration, support and networking
Vegan Village – lots of vegan resources
2. Switch to green electricity
Making the switch to green electricity is so easy and it makes a really big difference. Reduce your household’s carbon footprint by up to 2 tonnes a year when you making this change. It’s simple to switch to renewable energy with the Green Energy Helpline. They guarantee that all tariffs shown on their website are truly green by checking the environmental credentials of every tariff and supplier. When you switch to green energy with the Green Energy Helpline, you can be sure that your tariff draws its energy directly from renewable sources. There’s more good news about switching to a green tariff with Green Energy Helpline, and that is the difference it will make to your pocket. You could save up to £145 per year by switching. What are you waiting for? Click here to start reducing your carbon footprint.
3. Get rid of your tumble dryer
Yes, you did read that right. Tumble dryers are energy gobbling monsters. If you use a tumble dryer, it’s one the most energy hungry appliances in your home. There’s not much else to say on this subject, other than save the planet, save your money, get a washing line and use it. If you don’t have outdoor space, there are some great options for indoor washing lines. Have a look at Eco Washing Lines for some inspiration. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to getting your clothes dry. People have managed it for centuries in all weathers without having tumble dryers.
4. Insulate your home properly
By insulating your home you can cut your energy use dramatically. It follows that you’ll save yourself lots of money too. There is an initial outlay with this step. You’ll need to pay for the insulation. But the good news is that it probably won’t cost you as much as you think. Grants are available to homeowners and sometimes to tenants too to get this important insulation installed. In many cases you will recoup money spent within the first year in reduced fuel bills.
5. Park your car
If you are a 4×4 driver, well, just stop it! If you’re a rural 4×4 driver who needs their vehicle for access or their livelihood, it’s time to switch to biodiesel. If you don’t have a real reason for driving a 4×4, you should be ashamed of yourself. I suggest you park that gas-guzzler right now and get on your bicycle, a bus, the train, or use those dangly things hanging from the bottom half of your body. There are plenty of other options. There’s no excuse.
Even if you drive a fuel efficient vehicle, you can still reduce carbon emissions and possibly even get fit if you choose cycling or walking. Save driving for long distances and lift–share when you do. Choose another way to get to work, to the shops, to get your kids to school, to visit friends.
6. Stop flying
Flying is the fastest growing cause of climate change. And if that’s not enough to convince you, look at it this way:
“We could close every factory, lock away every car and turn off every light in the country, but it won’t halt global warming if we carry on taking planes as often as we do.” Plane Stupid
No, you don’t need to spend the rest of your life rooted to the spot, and family holidays are by no means a thing of the past. All we have to do is change the way we think. There are some fantastic holiday spots just a train ride away, there’s a ferry to Europe and ships may be slow, but they’re a far more comfortable way to travel. If there’s anyone who can show you how to do it, it’s The Man in Seat 61. Explore the options, I’m sure you’ll be surprised at what’s possible.
7. Be an eco-activist
Don’t just stand there on the sidelines. Get involved! Make a difference. Spread the word. There’s so much you can do. Stanley Campbell has written a great list of 12 steps on how to be an activist:
If you have a yearning in your heart to make life better on this planet, to right some wrong or support some effort large or small, then you are an activist. Instead of feeling frustrated in front of the television set, here’s some ways that I’ve learned to get things done.
1. Speak out about an issue. Don’t remain silent, but don’t scare people away. Try to express your concern in a positive manner. The world doesn’t want you to act, and the rich want you to shop, so God bless the social justice activist! But if you are concerned about the environment, pollution, war, poverty, or the high price of living (or anything else), then speak your mind! Teddy Roosevelt said “do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”
2. Find like-minded friends. These won’t be your real friends (in fact, your real friends will think you’re crazy). Pass a petition and sign people up. Folks who give their name and address may give time, energy and money
3. Find the official(s) in charge. Everything’s got somebody in charge, often a chain of command, and you have to find out to whom to address your concerns. Don’t demonize them, for often they are as concerned as you. It’s not a conspiracy that the world is the way it is. It’s just the way it is and it can be changed.
4. A good organizer keeps track of supporters’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and whatever else comes down the pike. Build that list. Share the work, by sharing your concern. Delegation of work means you trust people to help. That trust will help you get things done.
5. Find people who are working on the same issue. And there’s always people working on the same issue who’ve probably won a few battles, and can tell you a few stories. It’s nice not having to reinvent the wheel.
6. Use resources like libraries and the Internet to educate yourself and find national organizations that will support you.
7. Bring in speakers-outside agitators and experts who will enlighten and educate the community as well as the officials. This is a good organizing tool, but don’t bust the bank. Find experts who won’t demand high fees, but who can share information.
8. Use the media. Make a list of every outlet and try to get personal with the reporters. They are all overworked and appreciate it when someone writes an articulate story for them to use. Don’t be afraid of radio talk shows and television cameras. Find spokespeople.
9. Money is no object, but you have to ask for it. Really, this is the richest country in the world, and people will give to a cause if they trust you. So learn how to beg. Find folks who will keep track of the cash. If you need more than $8,000 a year, find a lawyer and set up a tax-exempt organization, or find an existing group that will take on your cause.
10. Get a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order and learn its spirit. Your meetings will devolve into squabbles or be driven off track unless you learn how to conduct them. Share responsibilities.
11. Celebrate your victories. Use any excuse to have a party, sing some songs, listen to poetry and reflect; all the while, charge admission or pass the hat. Try not to treat people on the other side as “the enemy.”
12. Never say no to somebody else’s issue. In fact, encourage people to get up from their television sets and make the world a better place.
There’s lots of issues. No one thing will bring about redemption, but a whole lot of little steps get us closer to paradise. Good luck!