I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to read articles or watch programmes about climate change. I would consider my awareness of this issue to be quite strong, however I’m unsure what I can do to help make a difference and slow climate change. So I thought, are other young adults feeling this way?
This year has been a crazy one to say the least, and we’re continuously faced with difficult challenges. Difficult things that we want to help prevent for the sake of our future, but we can’t. How can we stop such global, embedded issues when we’re stuck in our homes? How can we even achieve this at the best of times?
I’ve been doing some research about the small things we can do everyday in our lives to help slow climate change and its impact. I’d absolutely love to know your thoughts and hear how you are making a change to help.
Adapt your diet
The food we buy and consume can have a huge impact on the climate. There is a lot of contradicting evidence as to what particular foods, such as meat, avocados, or even a cup of tea, are bad for the planet. So it’s important that we all do our own research into the foods we like to consume and consider A) if it is sustainable or B) whether we can cut down to make a difference that way.
We’re all human, we don’t like to be told that we can’t eat a certain thing, especially if others around us aren’t also doing the same. So to make a difference to your own carbon footprint, carry out some research into the foods you stock up on and consume, and see if there are substitutes you can make. For example, are there any local producers that you could buy your meat and dairy from rather than putting pressure on imported goods? Or could you grow your own vegetables and fruit?
Making changes to the food you eat can really help to mitigate the effects of climate change. This is not a plea to cut everything environmentally ‘bad’ out of your diet, but hopefully a reminder that having meat free days and occasionally shopping local to where you live is better than nothing. It’s all about starting small and planning for the future.
Mix up your transport
When you leave the house, could you take the bus or train instead? Sometimes comfort can take priority and we want to jump into our own car and take ourselves somewhere but, chances are, public transport could take us to the same place.
Wherever possible, try to start replacing your shorter journeys with public transport, walking or cycling. Again, this doesn’t mean ‘sell your car and walk everywhere’, but rather think about those journeys you can replace and start to do it a few times a month.
Other ways to reduce your transport emissions are: car sharing to school or work; taking the train to other countries rather than flying (train travel around Europe is an amazing experience!); invest in a bike to cover those shorter journeys.
The way we deal with climate change is very personal, what one person can change might be a lot harder for the next. Work out what it is that you could do or cut back on, and start implementing those changes gradually.
Rethink your clothing choices
Fast fashion has been a hot topic, having many negative effects on the planet. By definition, fast fashion refers to the short ‘shelf life’ of trends in the 21st century, with £140m worth of clothing items going to landfill each year. One season’s fashion trend has quickly become the next season’s throwaway.
Some ways to shop more sustainably are:
- Shop second hand at charity shops, or on platforms such as Depop
- Only buy things you know you want or need to save on returns
- Buy from smaller businesses rather than fast fashion brands
- Don’t be afraid of wearing outfits more than once. As much as it would be nice, not every occasion needs a new outfit!
- Swap clothes with friends and family
When I’ve tried to change things in my lifestyle, such as becoming vegetarian or wanting to cut back on plastic, I’ve found the hardest part is what other people say and do. It’s hard to have different meals at dinner or say no to a coffee when you’re out because of the plastic lids.
It’s not your responsibility to change everyone else’s opinion or behaviours, but speaking to people can really help. Whether you want to talk to your family about how they too can help by making small changes, or by asking your employer if there’s anything you can do as a company to make a difference.
Some suggestions to offer to your team or company are:
- Banning plastic
- Shopping with local suppliers to reduce travel
- Cutting back on printing unnecessarily
- Supporting charities that are committed to helping the planet
When it comes to other people’s opinions, don’t lose any hope or motivation to do your bit if others around you aren’t as receptive.
In your home
We’re not all in a position to have solar panels installed on our roof, but there are some things we can do in our homes to help. Consider changing your electricity provider to a green-energy supplier or swapping out your bulbs for energy efficient products.
You could also make the effort to wrap up when it gets colder rather than opting for the heating, only running washing machines and dishwashers when they’re full, or finding new recipes for your excess food so nothing goes to waste.
If you’re able to, try to shop for plastic-free products for your bathroom and kitchen. Shops like LUSH are a great way to remove plastic bottles and wrapping for your cosmetic products, while some supermarkets are slowly making the change to dispenser based products for cereals and grains.
There are lots of small things that you can do within the home to make a difference!
Shop small and local
Shopping with sustainable businesses or encouraging small business owners to adopt more environmentally friendly practices is another important conversation that you can have. Here are some graduate-owned small businesses that are seeking to reduce their impact on the climate:
RE.BORN swimwear demonstrate the potential that recycled clothing has to offer. This specific company take mass-market offcuts and craft them into affordable and sustainable swimwear pieces.
PERL Cosmetics – Isobel has launched a recycling programme that means the leftover bottles and dishes from your products go back into the production line rather than thrown out. Plus you get 15% off your next order by doing this!
There are a lot of different things that you can do to ‘do your bit’ and try to help slow climate change. It is a real issue, and we aren’t totally hopeless which can be reassuring.
It can be disheartening when others around you, or large businesses that contribute hugely to climate change, don’t change their behaviour. But it’s all about the small things that we can change, and making that effort is something to be proud of.
Remember that your efforts to reduce your own carbon footprint might not be visible, but they are helping. It’s okay to just take it one step at a time, or perhaps focus more on one area than another. Don’t worry if you slip up, keep up the momentum and do your research frequently to find new ways to help.
I’d love to hear how you help to combat climate change in your own lifestyle, so feel free to share this below!
For more environmentally focussed blogs, you can find some tips for being more sustainable at Christmas here.