Sometimes the sheer scale of tackling climate change can appear overwhelming. But there are small ways to protect the environment.
As individuals, we can sometimes feel as if there is nothing we can do to make an impact. But certain individuals are already making a big impact on how we act regarding the environment. For example, take the ‘David Attenborough Effect’. This effect saw a 53% drop in single-use plastic in just 12 months in the US and UK.
But we are not celebrities with a global reach so what can we do? In actual fact, although we may not have the influence of this respected and renowned naturalist – we do have people power. We are billions of people and if we all work together, imagine what we could achieve? So where do we start?
There are lots of small ways to protect the environment, but keep in mind two main objectives:
1. Don’t waste
- Don’t waste food. In the US, 7 million tons of food is wasted annually. Rotting food produces 34% of all methane emissions.
- Don’t waste energy. The more energy you use the more coal has to be burned, the more oil has to be produced, the more emissions are in the air.
- Don’t waste plastic. Plastic doesn’t degrade. Once produced it is here for centuries. Reuse your plastic to stop it ending up in landfills. Remember, only 7% of all plastic ever gets recycled.
2. Turn your changes into habits
- Get used to taking your reusable travel mug out with you everywhere you go.
- Pack shopping bags in the boot of your car so you never have to buy plastic ones in the supermarket.
- Get the family used to pop on an extra sweater instead of turning up the thermostat.
“It is, surely, our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth.” David Attenborough
Here are 32 other ways you can protect the environment:
1. Go meatless once a week. Extensive farming of cattle, sheep, and pigs uses more resources than crops and adds to climate change.
2. Buy seasonal and local fruit and vegetables. Go to farmer’s markets and don’t buy produce that has been flown halfway across the globe.
3. Cook from scratch. Buy real food and use up everything. Learn to make soup and stock from bones.
4. Make food in large batches and freeze portions for that busy day in the week so you are not tempted to rush and buy a takeaway.
5. Don’t waste food. Use overripe fruit in smoothies or ice-cream. Put soft vegetables into casseroles, stews or soups.
6. Learn about ‘Best Before Dates’. Meat, fish, and dairy products have compulsory ‘Use-By’ dates on them, as eating them after these dates can be dangerous. By ‘best-before’ simply means they are not at their best after the date on the packet. You can still eat them.
7. Don’t use single-use plastic at all. Buy all fruit and vegetables loose. Take plastic containers with you to the shops and ask supermarkets to fill them. Some stores are rolling out trials but hopefully, this will become the norm.
8. Use dishcloths instead of kitchen roll and bung them in the washing machine with your other laundry.
9. Only do a full load of laundry and on a quick and cold wash.
10. Don’t use your tumble-dryer. Hang clothes to dry on clothes drier or outside.
11. Soap bars are packaged in cardboard. They use less plastic and water than liquid soap. You can recycle the cardboard.
12. Buy shampoos and conditioners that do not contain sulfates. Sulfates are derived from palm oil and are responsible for the destruction of tropical rainforests.
13. Stop using disposable razors and buy ones with replaceable blades.
14. If you use cotton buds don’t buy the ones with plastic sticks in the middle. These sticks end up on our beaches.
15. Wet wipes do not biodegrade. Instead, they clog up sewer pipes. Use a face flannel which can be washed in a washing machine time and time again. And never flush a wet wipe down the toilet.
16. Cut down on water use. This includes what you buy as well as having fewer baths. For example, a soap bar uses less liquid than liquid soap.
Rest of the House
17. Turn off lights in rooms you are not in. This goes for TVs, music equipment, radios, etc.
18. In the winter, turn your thermostat down a notch and keep a thick blanket on your sofa. There’s no need to heat the whole house if most of you are in one room.
19. Switch your energy provider to a renewable source.
20. Buy energy-saving light bulbs.
21. Repair clothes, don’t just chuck something out because it has a rip or tears in it. That item of clothing cost you money in the past!
22. Buy wildflower seeds that attract bees and butterflies and plant them in a dedicated area of your garden.
23. Grow your own fruit or veggies and then donate some to a local food bank.
24. Compost vegetable and fruit peelings and leftovers.
Outside the home
25. Take travel coffee mugs with you so you don’t have to accept the un-recyclable ones from coffee shops.
26. Remember to take plastic containers with you to butchers or fishmongers so you don’t have to have your product wrapped in single-use plastic.
27. Buy a water flask and stop buying water bottles. You’ll save money and stop the endless cycle of plastic pollution from dumping empty water bottles.
28. Buy fruit and vegetable loose and not wrapped in plastic. If your supermarket insists on wrapping them up, email them and go to a local market instead.
29. Remove any unnecessary items from your car. It makes your car heavier and uses more petrol.
30. Combine trips and errands in one go so you use your car less. This saves on petrol.
31. Shop in charity shops and donate clothes and books once you’ve grown out of them or read them.
32. Dispose of batteries, ink cartridges, fluorescent light bulbs correctly.
These are just some of the ways you can protect the environment. If you have any tips we’d love to hear them.