Ever since I first learned about climate change in the early 1990s, I have been alarmed by how serious the situation is and how little governments have done about it. I remember being at secondary school and forming an eco-committee to raise awareness about pollution and encourage recycling, which at the time was a reasonably new idea. It seemed to many people like a niche interest rather than a major issue, affecting everyone on the planet.
Nonetheless, when I went on to University to study Geography I learned about rivers and glaciers and the environmental impact of vehicles and pollution. This alerted me more to just how critical it is that we start to reduce our overwhelmingly negative impact on the world’s atmosphere.
Without turning this into an article which tells you what to do, I have merely noted some easy suggestions which can definitely help you to contribute to easing climate change. They are manageable and positive steps which I hope you may consider.
1) Considering how you travel
We all have busy lives and rush around from place to place, sometimes with little thought about how we get there. Children are driven to school and their lives seem to involve hopping from one ‘island’ to another. From home to school and then on to football training or ballet class, kids often have little awareness of the journey between each place. They just switch on a tablet and play a game for a bit before magically arriving at their next destination.
How about replacing one of these journeys with a walk instead? Walking increases their cardio and gives them a better grounding in their locality. Many children are less alert to their local area because they have had very little practice of negotiating it. Walking means less pollution in the and better all round health. If more families encouraged their kids to walk to school, for example, this would drastically increase the number of people on the streets, making them feel safer, whilst reducing the traffic, which in turn means less risk of accidents as well as fewer fumes irritating people’s respiratory systems.
2) Turn it down
For most people, heating is a luxury they enjoy and make the most of in winter time. Generally we love to go home to a cosy, warm house, heated up to the max. However, if one room in the house is hardly used, why pump the radiators full of hot water all day when the benefits are not being felt by anyone? Turning down the heating by a degree at the thermostat can also make a massive difference by reducing the amount of electricity used. If everyone did this, then the power stations would need to burn less fossil fuels to get us through the winter and produce far less pollution.
3) Zoom it!
In lockdown many of us have realised the brilliance of remote meetings held over Zoom. Instead of flying to Amsterdam for a few days at a work conference, we have started to hold these events online. Perfect! Let’s keep that up. Meetings over the internet save time, energy and hassle. Instead of having to organise babysitters, pet sitters, book planes and hotels etc. you simply have to book an appointment on Zoom and off you go, reducing pollution at the same time.
4) Don’t succumb to trends
Fashion is lovely and let’s face it, very fashionable, but do you really need a new wardrobe for every season? Clothes last ages so why keep buying more, just to fit in? The factory process behind clothing manufacture is quite energy intensive and so buying a shirt and wearing it just three times is actually fairly wasteful. If you do want to replace clothes often, maybe consider recycling the older ones or reusing them around the home. Some fabrics can be useful in preventing weeds in the garden, if you lay them under the top soil, for instance.
5) Check where your food comes from
Yes we all love exotic foods but we also know that food flown in from thousands of miles away will have required a lot of energy to help it get to our supermarkets. I love bananas yet they will have travelled on aeroplanes and trucks that used tonnes of fuel on the way to my local shop. I’m not saying stop eating bananas, but planning to use more locally sourced foods can contribute towards reducing the amount of food being flown in from far away. This in turn will have a small but very important impact on the amount of pollutant in the atmosphere.
These are just a few examples of the kind of changes that we can make to our lives that could collectively help the environment by reducing carbon emissions and slow the effect of global warming.
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