Climate change: what can you start doing right now to turn it around?

Climate Change: What can you start doing right now to turn it around?

Overwhelmed by how HUGE the issue of climate change is, and wondering what you actually do that will TRULY make a difference? From small changes to what you eat, to major sacrifices you can make in the name of planetary non-destruction, we’ve got something for all appetites…

Great news! It’s widely considered that the biggest impacts you can have as an individual on carbon emissions, and therefore climate change, are as follows:

1. Adopt a low-meat diet

Tell me why, in a nutshell

There are a number of environmental impacts when it comes to animal farming, but the key ones associated to climate change are:

  • The significant amount of greenhouse gases that cows in particular release
  • The land required for pasture and to grow grain crops for animal feed (and the associated deforestation)
Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere. Trees absorb and store these greenhouse gases before they reach the Earth’s atmosphere.

What can I do about this right now?

You can start this week, simply by swapping out one of your regular meat-based dinners. If you enjoy cooking, simply start collecting some eco-friendly recipes and if not, we love Allplants who deliver delicious plant-based frozen meals to your door. Also, why not try a vegetarian option at your favourite restaurant next time? Bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Related to this, think about where you shop; shop local where possible to reduce transport impacts, try to buy eco-friendly products and explore supermarkets’ commitment to the environment to help determine where you shop.

Give me something useful to read so I can spread the word

Friend of the Earth provide some hard-hitting stats and a host of useful information on food-related climate change actions here.

How can I get some help with this?

Fancy getting some practice? Here some eco-friendly cooking classes for you 🙂

Show me some people who have made these changes

Check out these peeps living low-carbon lives.

2. Reduce your car usage / change your vehicle

What’s it all about?

Have a read about Germany’s efforts to tackle the problem here.

What can I do about this right now?

  1. Try going car-free one-day a week – you may be pleasantly surprised about how enjoyable a 2-3 mile walk is or how stress-free taking the bus or train is (road rage will become a distant memory). If you’re looking for a day-trip, Good Journey provide you with exclusive discounts if you leave the car at home.
  2. Car share – see if your company runs a car-share scheme, arrange to share the school run with other parents or find out more about car sharing in your area at Liftshare.comBlaBlaCar and Zipcar
  3. Start or join a local car club – find your nearest one here, from Como who not only provide information on car clubs but who also support the development of new ones
  4. Are you in the market for your next car? Have you reviewed whether it’s viable to do without? If it’s not, why not join the 95,000 others driving an electric car (or consider a Hybrid if you do longer journeys). The Government also provides a grant towards certain models.

Show me some people who have made these changes

Have a read of this ‘keeping it real’ account of giving up the car here.

3. Have fewer children

Controversial right? But there’s no escaping the fact that putting more humans on the planet results in more carbon footprints, requires more land, more resources…you get the picture.

What’s it all about?

Get the lowdown from our very own national treasure, and others, here

How can I make a difference, other than the obvious?

Start the conversation, within your own family and/or amongst work colleagues or friends. This is a topic that is not often talked about but will generally get a reaction and can often invoke an emotional response so remember to keep the debate respectful and empathetic!

Share the facts:

Donate to the cause, whether that’s to a related charity such as Population Matters or crowdfunding initiatives to provide greater education and family planning support to women and families in other countries, you will help make a difference to others.

Show me some people who have made these changes

Sure, here you go!

Take action

Do your bit in a couple of clicks. Add your voice to these online petitions to demand change / action:

  1. Friends of the Earth,
  2. Greenpeace,
  3. WWF
  4. And get behind these families taking the EU to court for not doing enough to protect our livelihoods

Do some sofa research

Switch energy supplier to green energy  – you can either review at them directly or use a price comparison site which allows you to specifically search for green energy providers. Switching is pretty pain-free these days – companies have to make it easy for you to switch. You’ll typically be able to do it all online and the new company has a vested interest in making sure it all goes smoothly for you.

Track your performance

  • If you’re motivated by Fitbits and Fitness Pals then tracking, and lowering, your carbon footprint could be your next healthy addiction. Work out how to calculate it here.
  • If getting the family to switch off the lights, the chargers, the devices, the heating…is driving you insane, why not get a smart meter (it’s free). Let it track your energy usage and then you can set up some family challenges to get that number down! Competitive? Us?

I’m up for getting to know others in my local community

Get in touch with a local group to see if there’s something you can do to help. There’s some listed here, you can search by location here or why not join a movement on Meetup?

I’d like to develop my leadership skills at work

How about setting up an employee network or forum at work? From women’s networks and LGBT groups to mental health forums and parenting support groups, companies are widely receptive of the benefits these can bring to their staff.

Start by having a look on your work intranet for advice, approaching a member of HR or perhaps contacting the organiser of an existing network to see how they went about it. You might want to share some information to back up your ideas, or perhaps enquire as to any existing climate change business policies that might already exist.

For example, the impact on climate change should be a consideration for your company when reviewing the company car scheme, their transport policy, use of energy and use of suppliers (i.e not using suppliers who aren’t investing in solutions themselves). Suggesting an employee focus group to input ideas into such policies could be another impactful way to help.

Let us know how you get on!

I just can’t help myself when it comes to organising an event 

The world needs more people like you! I (personally) know there’s often that feeling of dread when you offer to take on the task of organising people for a certain event (herding cats spring to mind) but hey, it always seems worth it in the end, right? And if you don’t do it then no-one else ever seems to!

Help bring people together with something in common. Seeds for Change help support groups who have set-up to tackle a specific cause with some handy resources and Campaign Against Climate Change have also produced a handy guide to setting up your own group or network.

If you want to feel part of something bigger, Go Fossil Free guides you through the steps to set up a group focused on to stop new coal, oil and gas infrastructure and instead secure commitments for 100% renewable energy.

Speak, or write, to your MP

If you miss sending handwritten letters, we may have a solution! Handwritten letters are considered more personal and the effort you have gone to is likely to have more impact. 

Have a go at following the steps below. And don’t worry, there’s always a handy template you can copy / adapt if you get writer’s (or speaker’s?) block.

  1. First of all, find your MP
  2. Then lobby your MP
  3. Know someone else who likes a good letter? Persuade them to write one too, offer to post it for them if that helps!
  4. See if you can get your letter in the local paper to spread the word and give your message extra impact

If you want more help, check out our Lobbying 101 guide.

Campaign to your local authority

As well as your MP, you can also influence your local authority, such as to campaign for greater investment in cycling and electric vehicles. There’s some great inspiration on how you can leverage your parish and town councils, and how others have done so, in this guide.