Obviously, many of the giant pieces of the puzzle to solving the climate issues are down to governments, but there are numerous things we can all do that can very greatly impact the planet in a beneficial way.
To help you get your head around the ways that you can make a truly substantial and postive difference, here's a checklist for you to consider:
Change your diet: An analysis by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation found meat and dairy account for 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – the same as all cars, HGVs, aircraft, and shipping combined. Landmark research by academics at Oxford University in 2018 found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent.
Buy local: You don’t need a climate scientist to tell you that seasonal produce, grown locally, and to a high environmental standard is better for the planet than items shipped halfway around the world from companies with murky supply chains. If you can afford to go organic, it’s a worthwhile investment - organic farms support much more wildlife than those relying on fertilisers and pesticides. Even better, if you can, grow your own. Whether you have a windowsill or a smallholding, growing your own herbs, flowers or vegetables can be beneficial. Not just to pollinators, which can feed off the plants, but also to your mental health.
Bee kind: Whether you've got a garden or a window sill or a balcony, grow flowers for bumblebees and other pollinating insects.
Buy secondhand: Did you know that the textile industry generates more carbon emissions than the airline and maritime industries combined? Happily, options abound when it comes to buying ‘pre-loved’ goods. Obviously, it's not just a good idea to buy secondhand clothing; lots of other products are available!
Standard definition: Choosing standard definition rather than high definition when you’re streaming content from services such as Netflix can achieve an 86 percent reduction in your carbon footprint.
Zooming: One hour of video-conferencing or streaming emits between 150 and 1,000 grams of carbon dioxide. For comparison, a gallon of gasoline burned from a car emits about 8,887 grams. So, if you're a frequent Zoomer and you do the maths, over the course of a month of video calls, you'll likely save the equivalent of a significant car journey in a fossil-fuel car. Obviously, many can't avoid Zoom calls, but just turning off the camera makes a significant impact too.
Stop saying thank you: It's a good idea to stop saying thank you by email. “If each British adult would abstain from sending out a “Thank you” email, we would conserve more than 16,000 tons of CO2 per year - equal to 81,000 flights from London to Madrid. Are really all the emails we send necessary?” says Anneli Ohvril, one of Digital Cleanup Day's project leaders.
Switch to a green bank: Doing something as simple as switching to a green bank can have a big impact. A significant amount of finance for the fossil fuel industry comes from the banking sector, so if you switch to a green bank you can be sure that your money is only bankrolling green initiatives.
Choose a sustainable pension fund: Through your pension fund you could unwittingly be backing fossil fuels or even weapons manufacturers. Speak to your employer and your pension provider and say, ‘actually, I want an option where I’m not investing in these things'.
Switch insurers: Insurers are the second biggest investors after pension funds, so choosing an ethical insurance company will ensure your money isn’t propping up the fossil fuel sector.
Switch to green energy: Switching to a green energy provider is another simple but effective way of reducing your carbon footprint. Find a company which buys 100 renewable electricity from independent generators and sells it on to customers - and become a customer. Of course, it's also a good idea to use energy wisely. Having a smart meter installed can help you keep tabs on energy consumption.
Active travel: In England, for example, 60 percent of journeys between one and two miles long are made by motor vehicle. Embracing walking and cycling is good for your health, as well as the planet. In the UK, for example, transport accounts for a third of the UK’s emissions, so substantially reducing car use - especially for short journeys - would have a dramatic impact. And, of course, when you do need to jump in a car, make sure it is electric or, at least, hybrid. There's no 'range anxiety' for short journeys!
Join an environmental group: As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. So consider joining a campaign group to add weight to ongoing efforts to lobby policy makers to slash emissions.