Those who are keen to do their bit for the planet a most certainly awake to the worrisome future that lays ahead. There is no doubt that our wonderful ball of rock floating through space that we call home is now under huge threat.
Our weather is more extreme, our oceans are home to a new species of fish called plastic, industrial production and intense agriculture are extremely detrimental to the environment and mass deforestation of some of the largest forests on Earth has subsequently led to a decline in many species.
We are facing a worrying future indeed if we continue our business as usual model. We need to take action before it’s too late and the funny thing is, it can start with you.
Below are a list of things we can do on an individual level that will make those small – yet significant – steps to a greener world.
You probably haven’t thought about this, but the whole world pretty much evolves round food. With about 7 billion people to feed, that’s a lot of produce. When was the last time you went a day without food? Most likely never. What do you have 3 times a day if you are one of those people that have a solid routine? you guessed it, food.
The vast majority of us take food for granted. Especially the western world and way of living, we buy what we want, when we want and rarely stop to think about its provenance. Such as how and where it has been produced and how our provider impacts the environment. Not something you want to think about when you’re about to sink your teeth into a burger.
We haven’t even touched on food waste, but there’s a global approximation that 20-40% of food gets wasted. However, there are numerous ways in which we can make positive changes and still enjoy the food we all love to eat.
Where to shop
Part of the process of making planet-friendly choices is to give your custom to those retailers who share your environmental values. This will lead you to question your favourite largest and most established retailers. Economies of scale means they probably buy their produce from large-scale industrial farms that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. So your large beloved retailer may be the villain.
See if a local farmer provides a vegetable box service or try and find a national company that grows centrally but delivers locally. Steering away from packaged meat or ready cooked veggies from a pack, this allows you to be more creative with your dinner!
These days there is an unusually large range of options at any store. Quite crazy how we have come this far as a species. There are probably a lot of food types that we don’t necessarily need. Like plastic packaged oranges, avocados and bananas. If only nature supplied her own form of packaging to protect the part we eat. Oh wait…
If we keep buying these, the retailer will keep supplying it. So its just about that small sacrifice or paying that extra bit more for single sold fruit.
It’s hard to appreciate where the sandwich or salad in front of you has come from and certainly the ability to go to your local shop and buy what you want, the convenience factor cannot be disregarded. When you really start to question where your food has come from, the environmental impact it’s having becomes crystal clear.
To produce 100 g of beef creates up to 105 kg worth of greenhouse gases. Tofu on the other hand produces 4 kg of greenhouse gases from 100 g. Quite a difference.
The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. Giving up the after night out McDonalds, KFC or juicy lamb doner takes balls of steel and is a big sacrifice of your comfort, but the lasting affects it has is somewhat large.
Unfortunately, meat production is one of the least efficient forms of farming. It amounts to 83% of global farmland to produce just 18 percent of the calories consumed. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that that’s unsustainable.
Something that meat and dairy lovers don’t want to hear, but if the whole world gave it up, we could return 75% of the worlds farmland to wilderness. Better yet, we would still have enough food to put an end to world hunger. Something that should have been done a long time ago, but that’s another subject.
Rethinking the ways in which you travel can be a pivotal point in reducing the dreading CO2 emissions that are wreaking havoc on the environment. But stopping to think about your next form of travel can definitely make a change. Of course, it might not always be possible for everyone, but green driving choices will have a positive cumulative impact. Most people are of understanding of this topic, but here are the options.
Walking has many positive impacts not just on the environment, it will also keep you healthy while enjoying a bit of fresh air. (Although don’t go about walking now considering the pandemic).
Cycling instead of driving is similar to walking. You’ll cut your emissions to zero and again enjoy the health rewards it brings.
Sharing a car means you’ll share the emissions with your friends. Thus reducing your individual carbon footprints.
Taking the bus, train or tram rather than driving will again cut your emissions drastically. Although they typically use fossil fuel, mass forms of public transport carry tens or even hundreds of people in a single journey. Again, greatly reducing your personal emissions.
Going on holiday
Everyone loves a holiday and the thought of not going on one seems rather barbaric. Luckily, we wont have to give up our beloved vacations away in the sun.
We know that flying is not a neutral activity when it comes to the environment. Planes burn limited fossil fuels, emit GHG and leave those trails we see in the sky known as contrails. All are thought to effect out fragile climate.
If you are flying, as it’s pretty hard to avoid when travelling abroad these days, travel direct rather than a cheaper and more complicated route. Taking off and landing is what uses the most amount of fuel.
Wherever possible, try and travel with airlines that offer means of carbon offsetting. When you carbon offset, you fund projects that reduce GHG emissions through new technology or something as simple as planting trees. Easy Jet have recently introduced carbon offsetting.
Could you reach your destination by train instead and turn it into one of those fun railway adventures? You could even use the coach, if the journey isn’t a long haul. Coaches are a more energy efficient choice if its a happy medium distance between planes and trains.
Do you have any methods that you’re currently doing to save the planet?
Credit: William Wand – The Figure Head