In this series of articles (published in GreenSpirit Magazine) we look at a selection of practical and achievable things you can do to reduce your impact on planet Earth. We all know that the health of our planet is deteriorating as the human population grows, climate change and pollution increases, and wildlife and wild spaces suffer as we are now within what is termed the sixth mass extinction.
Many people feel depressed and helpless about this and wonder what difference they can make. But there are many things that we can do to reduce our own impact, and along the way we will inspire others and feel better that at least we are doing something, however small it may seem. All these small things can add up and make a huge difference. Be the change…
It’s important to consider the effectiveness of various actions when choosing what to tackle first. For example, you may think you are doing your bit by recycling your waste paper, but if you knew that was only a tiny bit as effective as something like changing your energy supplier, you may want to do that as a priority! A good source of information about the effectiveness of various actions, especially relating to climate change, is from Project Drawdown, which researched and modelled the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address global warming – see www.drawdown.org.
Each article looks at five different actions you can take. They will cover areas such as climate change, pollution, ethics, land and water use, animal welfare and so on. Some may be obvious and some you may well have actioned already, but we hope you will find some inspiration and ideas from the suggestions. Right, let’s get started:
1. Electricity. Does your electricity come from a supplier who uses and supports renewable energy, or one that still relies on fossil fuels and funds fracking? It’s amazing how many ‘green’ people use the cheapest supplier, to save a few pence, rather than saving the planet! Some of the best renewable energy suppliers that you can easily switch to include Ecotricity (www.ecotricity.co.uk) and Good Energy (www.goodenergy.co.uk) – but there are others. Some also invest in green gas, which comes from organic digesters rather than fossil fuel-based gas.
2. Banking. Do you know how ethical your bank is, or is it funding activities (such as arms, tobacco or firms that test on animals) that you would rather not be paying for? One of the most ethical banks in the world is Triodos (www.triodos.co.uk) who provide current accounts as well as business and savings options, although there are others that take ethics seriously such as The Co-operative Bank (www.co-operativebank.co.uk).
3. Savings. Similarly, your savings or pension might be secretly funding activities you would be opposed to if you knew about it. For example, some UK pensions fund oil-drilling explorations in fragile ecosystems such as where mountain gorillas live in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are some stakeholder pension providers, such as Legal and General (www.legalandgeneral.com) who have an option of an ‘ethical fund’ for your pension savings.
4. Mobile Phone. Most people have mobile phones these days but many involve the mining of rare minerals with unethical practices, using slave labour and destroying habitats. The world’s most ethical phone is the Fairphone (www.fairphone.com/en) with a tariff from the Phone Co-op (www.thephone.coop).
5. Diet. Following a plant-based diet is now known as the single biggest thing you can do to reduce your environmental impact on planet Earth as it affects not only climate change but also land acidification, eutrophication (where excess nutrients cause algal blooms in waterways which kill all other life) and land and water use. In addition, a vegan lifestyle is better for your health and ensures you are not funding the shocking animal welfare practices that are destroying our planet. There are many sources of information to help you switch to a plant-based diet such as The Vegan Society (www.vegansociety.com).
Please spread these ideas far and wide, using social media, chatting with friends and family, and any other means.
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More suggestions coming soon!