Updated: Sep 22
Sometimes it can feel like there's nothing we can do to change the state of the world, it's too overwhelming, what difference can one person make anyway?
You're not alone. It is a big problem. The biggest that human kind will face in our lifetime. With sea temperatures rising, species dying off, the affects of our emissions are disastrous and action is needed. Yesterday.
Globally, we aim to have the carbon footprint from each person to be down to 2 Tonne of CO2 a year, by 2050, to avoid catastrophic changes. In New Zealand, we're currently at 8 Tonnes, with Australia and the US at 16 Tonnes per person.
There's a wee way to go.
But each of us can make a difference. Some thoughts come to mind:
"It's just one straw - said 7 billion people." Unknown.
"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito." The Dalai Lama
You've probably changed your plastic grocery bags to canvas totes, and use beeswax dipped cotton now instead of a plastic cling film. Taking on small, gradual changes like this helps make it an easy transition to a more climate-friendly lifestyle. Kicking off into the new year, why not incorporate some (or better yet, all!) of the ideas below into 2019:
1. Sell the car
Ditch the carbon emitting machine and bike or walk to work. Or if you're not within realistic biking distance, catch the train or carpool. Alternatives are popping up all over the world, like the latest Lime scooters to hit New Zealand.
Data shows that, aside from having less children, going car free makes the biggest impact from individuals. Start small by leaving the car behind one or two days a week and build up to more.
2. Consume less stuff
- The biggest polluter today is clothing, second only to oil. Fast fashion is full of synthetic fibres, being made cheaply but at what cost? THE EARTH. Polyester clothing is just plastic, and plastic doesn't break down. One of the best things you can do for the planet is to consume less, and when you do, buy quality over quantity. Look for products made from natural materials - like wool. For clothing check out Icebreaker, Kowtow and Barkers.
Natural products in the home also means less toxins. Look to use wood furniture, wool carpet, cotton sheets or wool insulation. Insulation will also keep your home warmer, hence requiring less energy to heat it.
3. BYO containers
Just like coffee shops and cafe's can provide coffee in your own mug, shops and stores are now offering a "pick-your-own" approach, ditching the plastic packaging completely. Whole foods and Pika Wholefoods are a good place to start, reducing single-use plastic one handful of cereal at a time.
4. Switch it up in the shower
An easy way to reduce your plastic bottle use is in the bathroom. There are plenty of great soap, shampoo and conditioner bars now that help you to give up the bottle.
Be green and clean. Ethique is a favourite for us.
5. More plants, less meat.
Eating a plant based diet is good for you, and the environment, and reduces carbon emissions by 0.8 Tonnes per person, per year. If you can't give up mince and cheese pie just yet, try to embrace quality over quantity. Know your meat. Choose to buy the best, from farmers that understand their emissions and data, who are working towards a carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative farming system. Check out brands within Alliance.
6. Establish your green fingers.
Plant more. Try growing your own veggies and garden space, even if it's inside. We've all heard the saying - "The best time to plant a tree was yesterday. The next best time is today". Bonus points if it's native! Grab the kids and get started in the garden.
7. Discover your home town
Take a summer 'staycation' once in a while, instead of jumping on a plane. Foregoing one return transatlantic flight a year will save 1.6 Tonnes of carbon. As you discover more of your own city, shop local, supporting artists and boutique stores that create food and items in your town, for your town.
And finally, demand better. Ask your favourite brands what they're doing to help reduce their impact. A lot of huge brands have realised their capacity for change already, such as H&M or IKEA. If more and more customers demand the same, more brands will follow suit, until eventually environmental sustainability becomes the normal way of business.
Written by Rhiannon James