How many times have you heard the words ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ and thought:
“Nothing to do with me; it is not my problem”
I would hazard a guess that a fair majority of people have had this opinion at some point in their life.
The thing is it really IS your problem, it is everyone’s problem.
Our planet’s climate is changing
Think about that statement for a minute…
The weather patterns and the climate for the entire planet are changing and it is mankind that is at fault.
More extreme weather conditions bring with it some pretty horrendous problems:
- Ice caps at the North Pole are melting
- Less rain is falling, causing riverbeds to dry up
- Higher temperatures are allowing bacteria to breed in water
- Extreme temperatures (hot and cold) are causing the death of humans and animals
“In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that climate change would lead to about 250,000 additional deaths each year between 2030 and 2050, from factors such as malnutrition, heat stress and malaria.” WHO Climate change and health
- Factory pollution
- Chemical emissions
- Industrial farming
- Plastic pollution
- Vehicle emissions
These and other factors all have a part to play in the destruction of Earth.
Yeah ok, you may think I sound like one of those people that walk about with a billboard saying:
“The end is nigh”
and it might be that Earth still has 7.5 billion years left, but why should it have an expiry date? Why does our beautiful plant have to be ‘on the clock’? If we all don’t take action now, it is a sure bet that humans will be the cause of Earths demise.
I want to highlight how we can all make some relatively simple changes in our day to day lives to go toward helping in the battle against climate change. Not only will the planet benefit from these changes, you and your family will benefit too.
Before I get stuck in, I urge you to watch Harrison Ford’s speech at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit
Harrison is the Vice Chairman for Conservation International and voices his concerns over environmental destruction and anti-science political leaders; it is an emotional, thought provoking speech that everyone needs to see:
Harrison Ford’s speech at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit
How do you feel now?
Are you empowered to implement some changes into your life to lessen your own impact on the planet?
How can I reduce my impact on the planet?
There are many ways in which each household can lessen their negative impact on the environment, some require a small shift in habits, and others need a little bit more effort.
We are going to look at 3 simple ways you can help:
- Reduce food waste
- Recycle more effectively
- Swap out harsh, chemical ridden products for safer alternatives
How can I reduce my food waste?
On average, each household in the UK wastes £470 though the food discarded each year.
And it doesn’t stop in Scotland and the UK. Across the world a third of the food supply is wasted; we are chopping down forests to grow more food, yet 1 billion people are still going hungry. That doesn’t seem right, does it?
There are things you can implement at home to reduce your own family’s amount of food wastage:
Before you shop - Look in your kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer before each shopping trip. You can reduce waste by knowing what you already have to use up.
Make your shopping list - Make a shopping list, take it to the shops and stick to it. A list will help you to avoid impulse buying or stocking up on more food than you’ll use
Fridge and freezer - See what’s in your fridge and freezer that needs to be used up before you head to the shops. Label and date the homemade food and leftovers you freeze to enjoy it at its best.
Meal planning - Write a meal plan for the week so you buy only what you need. Looking ahead can help you make the most of leftovers and save you time and money.
Freezer week – Have a good look in your freezer, pull stuff out and defrost. Aim to use what you already have without buying additional food for a week – it could result in some interesting concoctions!
Wonky range – Try buying your fresh fruit and vegetables from your stores ‘wonky’ range
Reduce portion sizes – Make sure that your plates are not over filled. Food that is left on the plate will end up in the bin. If you have food left over people can always have seconds. Or, the remaining food can be kept for another meal
You can read more about food waste and its impact on the planet here
How can I recycle my waste better?
On the surface, separating waste seems like a relatively simple thing to do. However, when you look at the process a little deeper it throws up a whole heap of questions that could turn the whole process into a complete and utter headache!
- Do you know your HDPE from your LDPE plastic?
- What do you with damaged clothing that can’t be donated to thrift shops or charities?
- How can you reduce the amount of plastic that comes into your home?
These are just some of the issues consumers are faced with when trying to do their best for the future of the planet.
Plastic seems to pose the biggest issues when it comes to recycling so to help we have this FREE downloadable poster to help decipher what plastic is recyclable and what is not.
You can download that here – no email or other personal details required, just a free poster.
We also wrote an article recently to try and help with some of the ‘unknowns’ of recycling, like coat hangers, tin foil and drinks cartons. ‘Recycling at home, can I do more – 11 things you may not know’ sheds a light on these and other grey areas of recycling.
You can read that here
Recycling at home, can I do more – 11 things you may not know
How does plastic pollution affect climate change?
“Plastic was designed to last forever, it has no use as a single use material” – plastic oceans
We are all becoming increasingly aware of the effects of plastic on our oceans.
A study published in 2017 estimated between 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans via rivers annually, with peak months being between May and October. The top 20 contributing rivers, which according to the report are mostly found in Asia, contribute around 67% of all plastics flowing into the ocean from rivers around the world. – sloactive.com
This increase in awareness has led to recycling initiatives, consumers becoming more proactive when buying goods and a ramp up in education in schools and communities.
Thing is, plastic doesn’t just affect the environment at the end of its life. Plastic production contributes to greenhouse gases at every stage of the process.
Don’t get me wrong, plastic has its place but its production and use needs to be harnessed and brought under control.
In overcoming the drawbacks of plastic waste and pollution, an opportunity beckons. The ‘New Plastics Economy’ offers a new vision, aligned with the principles of the circular economy, to achieve better economic and environmental outcomes while continuing to harness the many benefits of plastic packaging.
Applying circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows could transform the plastics economy and drastically reduce negative externalities such as leakage into oceans.
You can read ‘New Plastics Economy’ initiative here
So, let’s say we all implement these changes; there is still a long way to go to reverse the effect of climate change. In addition to you and I, changes need to come from the top; the agricultural industry, corporate companies, governments and leaders need to wake up and do something bold to put the brakes on this looming catastrophe.
What can farmers do to help climate change?
Growers and farmers in Scotland have certain regulations and guidelines to follow to minimise the risks of environmental pollution not to mention the health and wellbeing of consumers. There are also guidelines for livestock farmers that set standards for the welfare of each animal.
Sustainable agriculture could be introduced worldwide and reduce, if not eliminate, the issues with pesticides and chemical pollution by using crop rotation and natural fertilizers.
There are solutions on the market today that enables growers and packers to spray and fog safe chlorine alternatives onto harvested fruit and vegetables. It is safe to the consumer and increases the shelf life of vegetables by one day.
Adding just one additional day to the life of fresh produce would save the UK 250,000 tonnes of food waste this equates to £500 million pounds annually.
By reducing the number of animals on a farm and providing space for them to roam and graze gives each one a better quality of life. It reduces the methane emissions that are a contributor to the depleting ozone. Consumer demand also plays a large part in the meat industry so behavioural change is needed to encourage less meat consumption. Until the demand for cheap, fresh meat decreases the emissions from livestock will still be one of the largest contributors to deforestation, water consumption and pollution.
Demand for water will exceed supply by 40% by 2030. This is clearly a huge problem that requires addressing before the problem is too big to handle.
Large scale water filtration and disinfection technology opens doors to the reuse of water and is an essential aspect of sustainable agriculture and the circular economy, but one which is often overlooked.
What is sustainable agriculture and why is it important?
Can post-harvest fruit and vegetables be cleaned without chemicals?
What are the supermarkets doing to help the plastic crisis?
Shocking statistics revealed in August 2018 show only a third of the plastic in packaging pots and trays for food can be recycled**
With 525,000 tonnes of plastic being used by households each year, 169,145 tonnes is recycled leaving 355,855 tonnes ending up in landfill or being incinerated.
355.855 tonnes of landfill plastic is the equivalent weight of 294,095 Mini Coopers!
We looked at the promises made by 4 major supermarkets; Aldi, Asda, Tesco’s and Morrison’s. Each store has implemented plans to reduce plastic packaging, make more plastic packaging recyclable and remove or replace single use plastic bags with an environmentally friendly alternative.
But can they do more?
When it comes to big brands, it is down to each individual company to make sure their products are packaged in recyclable containers, bottles and packaging.
As individuals we need to be acutely aware of the products we buy and how we dispose of the packaging.
You can read ‘what are supermarkets doing to help the plastic crisis?’ here
Can I clean my home without using harmful chemicals?
The short answer to this is yes, most definitely.
More are more consumers are becoming aware of the chemicals that are contained in their cleaning products. Like you and I, they want to be able to clean their homes and businesses without putting humans and animals at risk.
There is an increasing amount of eco-friendly, safe cleaning products on the market such as:
- Tesco active
Each product is effective at killing harmful bacteria and pathogens.
We reviewed these products looking at:
You can read that here:
Eco-friendly cleaner for my kitchen – Method vs ECover vs Tescos vs ESOL (reviewed)
We do need to point out that since writing this article it came to light that Method and ECover were bought over by a company called SC Johnson who openly admits to selling products that are tested on animals. The testing may not be directly linked to these products however any form of animal testing is not cool in our book.
There are safer, more environmentally friendly options in a lot of products such as:
- Washing up liquid
- Dishwasher tablets
- Pet shampoo
The next time you are in the supermarket or online, take 2 minutes to find out if there is a friendly option available.
Sometimes it is all too easy to push the bigger, national and even global problems to the back of your mind because someone else is ultimately responsible for dealing with it. As individuals we can’t rest on our laurels and hope that someone else with ‘fix it’. We all need to do the best we can to reduce our impact on the planet.
We are hoping that the 3 suggestions to lessen your impact on the planet will give you a good ‘kick start’ and spur you on too introducing other ideas and practices into your home. It doesn't stop there, let us know the changes you have implemented so we can share them with others - pop them in the comments below...
Our ‘Detoxify your life’ project could help you along the way; one email each month with helpful suggestions to detoxify your life one step at a time – interested?
In the grand scheme of things we are only here for a small fraction of time; while we are here we need to look after the planet we have so that we are passing something great onto future generations.
There are quite a few links in this article, to save you searching we have listed them all here for you: To read: What is sustainable agriculture and why is it important? Can post-harvest fruit and vegetables be cleaned without chemicals? Food waste – 7 ideas to reduce waste, save moment and help the environment Plastic Oceans WHO – World Health Organisation – climate change and health Recycling at home, can I do more – 11 things you may not know? Eco-friendly cleaner for my kitchen – Method vs ECover vs Tescos vs ESOL (reviewed) You can read ‘New Plastics Economy’ initiative here Stats How much plastic enters our oceans annually? ** 2 thirds of plastic still ends up in landfill