It dominates the headlines. World leaders are putting it at the top of their agendas. Going carbon neutral is the new in thing…it’s pretty indisputable that climate change and environmental damage is an issue we need to tackle head on.
When it comes to making a difference, we’re all too familiar with being encouraged to ditch plastic bottles and straws, but is that enough? The short answer is no. While it’s incredible that we’re switching to re-usable bottles (it warms our heart when we see them lined up on your treadmills and bikes in the studios), we could all be doing a lot more.
It can be easy to feel distanced from the effects of global warming, especially in London where we don’t see the extremes in weather conditions found in other parts of the world, but as leading environmental campaigner, David Suzuki, perfectly puts it, “In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.”
So, what can we do and why should we do it? Let’s start with plastic.
Along with polluting the oceans, filling up landfill sites and harming wildlife, single-use plastic is one of the most rapidly growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It contributes to these emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from production right through to disposal. The Guardian have written a brilliant piece on its environmental impact.
While recycling your plastic is a good start, cutting out as much plastic as you can is a much better bet. This includes the obvious, such as bottles, straws, plastic cutlery and plastic bags. To the maybe not so obvious, such as cotton buds, disposable razors, tampons, scouring sponges, balloons, wet wipes and even teabags. Yes, turns out a lot of teabags contain polypropylene, which is used to seal the bags. It’s estimated that as a nation we drink over 100 million cups of tea a day, which equates to a lot of plastic micro particles! You can still get your tea fix though with these plastic free options.
It might require a little effort to source, but there are plastic free alternatives for most household items now. Some of our favourites include Who Gives A Crap, who produce toilet roll made of 100% recycled paper, which is packaged in paper and sent out in 100% non-plastic packaging. Bulk Market in east London allows you to take in your empties to fill up on everything from food to beer, to beauty and cleaning products, eliminating the need for packaging all together. We’re also loving the resurgence in milkmen, such as Parker Dairies, who are delivering glass bottled milk and groceries to people across the capital.
Motivated to go even further? Kitchen and household electrical appliances are rarely recycled and form the skyline of most landfill sites. Many are discarded at the first signs of damage, but they can more often than not be repaired. Save paying someone else to do the honours and learn to do it yourself with The Restart Project. Yes, it’s definitely up there on the effort scale but pretty empowering to be able to fix something yourself. Hand us the tool belt now.
So, you’ve made some headway with reducing plastic, now what? It’s all about food. It’s estimated that 14.5% of climate changing emissions come from the production of meat and dairy. Fear not, we’re not going to be telling you to go vegan, as we know it’s not for everyone, but how about cutting down? Reducing your meat and dairy consumption by half could cut your carbon footprint by more than 40%. We were particularly inspired by Graham Hill, and his awesome TED Talk on being a weekday vegetarian.
Another, and probably easier change, is to switch your energy provider to one that supplies ‘green energy’. This is energy generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric. It can be a little pricier, but the providers do all the hard work for you when it comes to switching. Check out Money Super Market’s guide on what to do.
Even with a green energy supplier, it’s important to be mindful of your energy usage. This includes washing clothes at a lower temperature, turning appliances off when not in use, replace normal bulbs with LEDs and making sure your home is retaining heat properly.
While you’re switching up suppliers, why not take a look at your bank too. A new breed of ethical banks has rolled onto the scene, which promise to only invest money in environmentally friendly practices. Triodos Bank is one such bank, who are putting sustainability at the core of everything they do.
Other changes that can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases include driving less (as Londoners that’s an easy one to stick to), flying less (hello Eurostar), and helping to boost green spaces (tree planting is really fun, trust us).
There will no doubt be occasions where you’ll have to buy plastic or you just really crave a steak, but like with all things in life, try and balance everything out and offset what you can’t change. Going carbon neutral does requires a huge amount of effort but with a little research, patience and a lot of willing, we can all play our part in getting the planet back on track.