By Molly la Fosse
'The one thing that all 7 billion of us have in common is the planet on which we live.'
At the end of the day, unless you live in a cave, it's pretty much impossible to have absolutely no carbon footprint... buuuuut there are still lots of ways to hugely reduce our impact and help out the planet.
Use public transport ! (or walk/cycle)
The main benefit of public transport - ie trains, buses, coaches, etc - is that it reduces the number of cars in the streets, which reduces air pollution (cars emit pollutants such as carbon monoxide).
By choosing to use public transport more, you are minimising energy consumption and greenhouse gases, which as we all know leads to global warming (yes Donald, it is a real thing). And global warming is the cause of the melting and thinning of Arctic sea ice - thus just by using public transport you are going some way in helping polar bears, by stopping their habitats from being destroyed.. http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/sea-ice.html
Train and bus journeys can be much more relaxing anyway than driving - read a book, listen to some music, chat to strangers! - and walking and cycling is a whole lot better for your health, and create zero pollutants.
2. Reduce your consumption of animal products
Yeah, I know, vegans are annoying and preachy, death to all vegans, etc etc, yawn yawn yawn.
I'm not saying everyone has to go full vegan overnight, but it's honestly the easiest thing to have one day a week where you don't eat meat, or just in general reduce your animal product intake. It's especially easy here at Hurtwood where there's always great vegetarian and vegan options at mealtimes.
Just in case all those preachy vegans you've met didn't gift you with enough information on this topic, here's some reasons why eating animal products is harming our planet...
The Union of Concerned Scientists ( I know it doesn't sound like a real organization but it is) lists meat eating as the second biggest environmental hazard facing the earth.
It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce 1lb of meat. That's compared to 25 gallons for 1lb of wheat.
Producing just one hamburger uses the same amount of fossil fuel required to drive a small car 20 miles.
87% of agricultural land in the US is used to raise animals for food. That means HUGE amounts of deforestation. Less trees = more carbon dioxide = more global warming.
Before and After Deforestation :(
Not only does the meat industry cause huge environmental issues, it has also been proven that it is a huge factor of world hunger. The world's cattle consume enough food to feed 8.7 BILLION PEOPLE - that is more than the entire current human population. The corn and grain we give to animals in order to overfeed them for human consumption could be given to people living in hunger in the poorest parts of the world.
By eating animal products, you are funding an industry that largely profits from the needless suffering and torture of animals. Depressing, right.
3. Reuse and recycle
Re-using and recycling products are two of the easiest and most effective ways to save energy and conserve the environment.
Instead of chucking your old clothes in the bin, give them to charity !
Buy as much as you can from second hand / charity shops instead of high street brands. (fast fashion sucks, but that's a whole other article)
Buy a couple 'Bags for Life' and use them instead of buying more plastic bags every time you go food shopping.
Say you're shopping and visit lots of different shops, instead of getting a new bag for your clothes in each shop, just ask for one big bag in the first one you buy from and put all ya stuff in there. Easy !
Recycle everything you can ... that includes paper, plastic, glass, batteries, and most metals. Recycling saves energy and obviously massively reduces the amount of waste sitting in landfill sites in the UK.
Buy recycled paper
In an increasingly disposable society, re-using and recycling products is such an effective way to help the planet.
4. Be more mindful of your energy usage
(Possibly the easiest and most obvious one)
Every time you leave a room, turn off the light.
Buy energy saving bulbs
Unplug your gadgets - this includes your TV, computer and printer, stereo, microwave,... everythang. 'Phantom energy' is the energy wasted by appliances that are left on 'standby', ie turned off but still plugged in. It's estimated that phantom energy is responsible for 4 million tonnes of excess carbon dioxide in our atmosphere every year. Also, don't leave your phone/laptop charging all night - they only need 2 hours. Just by unplugging household appliances when they're not being used, you're saving precious energy and your (or more likely your parent's...) money.
Consider solar energy.
5. Change your shopping habits
As mentioned before, giving your clothes away instead of binning them, and buying from second hand / charity shops is a great way to reduce waste.
There are also ways to make your food shopping more environmentally friendly, for example to start buying locally. Shop at your local farmer's markets and as much as possible buy food that has been locally sourced. By doing this you're combating the air pollution caused by air freighting.
Avoid buying products that have several layers of packaging when one would be enough - 33% of waste is packaging alone.
'Ecosia' is a search engine where the ad revenue from your searches is used to plant trees. It's completely free to use, all you have to do is either download the app on your phone or set it as your default search engine on your computer (https://www.ecosia.org/?ref=icon-search ) and use it instead of Google when searching the internet. So far, it's users have helped to plant over 6 million trees :-)
These tips are all the more relevant now that America, the world's largest superpower, is governed by a man who has dismissed global warming as 'very expensive bulls**t' and called it a 'hoax invented by the Chinese.' With the terms 'climate change' and 'global warming' already removed from the official White House website, we need to be more aware then ever of the dangers facing our home and how to fight them.