What can I do?

Cliff Mitchell - 27/12/2019

Food waste

It's not too late - you really can make a difference if you act NOW!

Climate change is a global problem but we can all make a difference by making simple changes to our life styles, now. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Eat locally – eat local rather than imported food whenever possible. There's a great list of seasonal foods  here but much of it is obvious: strawberries don’t grow in the UK in December, we have to fly them in!
  • Avoid ‘Fast Fashion’ - avoid clothes you’ll only wear once; repair rather than throw away.
  • Reforestation – plant treas or get someone to plant them for you. You can make a small monthly payment to have 2 trees planted for you every month.
  • Save Energy – switch off lights and devices when not in use, low energy bulbs and devices, insulate your home, turn heating down and wear warm clothing instead.
  • Transport – use public transport, walk, or cycle whenever possible - leave the car at home. Cut down on air travel, both freqency and distance.
  • Reduce meat – meat has a hug carbon footprint, reduce your meat consumption. It takes 18.2Kg of CO2 and 22,000 litres of water to produce just 500g of beef. You don’t have to go vegetarian/vegan overnight, but reducing your meat consumption has a big effect.  
  • Garden – create green spaces, gardens, plant trees. This will help absorb some of our CO2, as well as reducing local air temperatures, compared to concrete or brick.
  • Renewable power – switch to a renewable energy supplier. Not only is it good for the planet but you can save hundreds of pounds a year!
  • Shop responsibly – if you have to buy it, look for eco-friendly suppliers (e.g. https://protectourwinters.uk/blog/eco-friendly-outerwear-brands/) and those with strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
  • Food Waste – only buy what you need. One third of all food purchased in the UK currently goes to waste, with most of it ending up in a landfill.
  • Knowledge - Educate yourself on the facts about climate change so you feel comfortable talking to your friends and family about it. See our list of useful links here and browse our articles here.
  • Appliances – use a washing line/clothes rack rather than a tumble dryer. Tumble dryers use five times as much electricity as washing machines. If your boiler is more than 15 years old, replace it: the carbon saving in the long run will be more than the cost of the new boiler and you can reduce your gas bill by 1/3!

If you want to get more actively engaged in fighting to prevent the climate crisis then why not support Extinction Rebellion or other local campaigning group, and please write to/email your MP and local papers. You can check out the voting history of your MP here - look for the section on how they voted on environmental issues. Also please support Greenpeace in their '2020: a decade of change' campaign.

There's also a really useful list of solutions to climate change, ranked by order of effectiveness here. The top 10 are shown here:

Rank Solution Total Atmospheric
Reduction (GT)
1 Refrigerant Management 89.74
2 Wind Turbines (Onshore) 84.6
3 Reduced Food Waste 70.53
4 Plant-Rich Diet 66.11
5 Tropical Forests 61.23
6 Educating Girls 51.48
7 Family Planning 51.48
8 Solar Farms 36.9
9 Silvopasture 31.19
10 Rooftop Solar 24.6

Notice that the number one solution is 'Refrigeration Management'.

Every refrigerator, freezer and air conditioner contains chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat to enable chilling. Refrigerants, specifically CFCs and HCFCs, were once culprits in depleting the ozone layer. Thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, they have been phased out. HFCs, the primary replacement, spare the ozone layer, but have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. These are really dangerous greenhouse gases so disposing of old fridges, freezers and aircon units responsibly is critically important. Don't just throw your old fridge on a rubbish tip - it will cause serious harm.

Silvopasture, number 9 in the list, is an ancient practice that integrates trees and pasture into a single system for raising livestock. Research suggests silvopasture far outpaces any grassland technique for counteracting the methane emissions of livestock and sequestering carbon under-hoof. Pastures strewn or crisscrossed with trees sequester five to ten times as much carbon as those of the same size that are treeless, storing it in both biomass and soil.

So there's load of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and help avoid disaster. The one thing you must NOT do is nothing!

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Cliff Mitchell
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