Give me 5... WAYS TO HELP SAVE THE PLANET
By Amie Tyrer
Climate Change is real; it's happening here, it's happening now, and it's happening fast. The existential risk to the future of our planet has become brazenly apparent in the last five years. There has been a significant rise in extreme weather events such as, wild fires, heat waves and floods. Our sea levels are rising at a rapid rate due to the melting of our polar ice caps. A quarter of the world’s coral reefs have already died as a result of the warming of our oceans. It is imperative that action MUST be taken now. Our world is under threat like never before and if we don’t act now then irreversible damage will affect life as we know it forever.
It is absolutely critical that our governments and political leaders rise up and act with efficiency and speed for catastrophe to be avoided. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t smaller things that we can all do to help reduce our own carbon footprint and help save our planet.
1. Get involved with Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an “international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.”
The peaceful protest group was born out of immense frustration due to the concealment of truth regarding the severity of the climate emergency and the lack of visible political action from our global leaders. Extinction Rebellion began their series of disruptive protests in London, UK in October 2018, since then the group have grown exponentially gaining over 150,000 followers on Instagram in under year. On the 15 April 2019 the group began a radical two week ‘International Rebellion’ which sought to cause mass disruption throughout some of the world’s major cities. The peaceful yet disruptive protesters aim to accelerate the discussion surrounding climate change and awaken individuals to the hard truth’s that are often omitted from media and political discussion. The energy of the protests has been completely infectious, urging tens of thousands of people to join the rebellion across the world. Despite police interference the protestors remained respectful and peaceful and held their clear political motive at the forefront.
You can find out about protests, actions and demonstrations that are coming up by following the XR Instagram or Facebook page. Or, find your local affinity group, to find out about local action happening in your town/region.
If you'd like to learn more about how and why XR formed or learn more their chosen tactics such as civil disobedience and non-violent protesting, listen to the XR podcast.
2. Reduce your meat and dairy consumption
It is no secret that one of the biggest contributors to the increase of greenhouse gasses is the enormous demand on our meat and dairy farming industries. If every American did meat-free Monday, it would prevent 1.4 billion animals from being factory farmed and transported every year. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that by omitting meat and dairy products from your diet can reduce your individual carbon footprint from food by up to 73%.
If you feel as though you aren’t quite ready to take the full vegan diet plunge, it has been stated that you can reduce your carbon 'foodprint' by around 25% just by cutting out red meats such as, beef and lamb. The reduction of meat consumption globally would not only result in a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions but it would reduce the demand for farm land across the world, thus reducing deforestation and the loss of agriculture. We need our forests and biodiverse lands to absorb the co2 and potentially toxic gasses we do emit to the atmosphere. Similarly, the extremely high rates of deforestation that occur globally are one of the major influences on our mass wildlife extinction and loss of species.
Transitioning into a vegan lifestyle can be difficult and take time but if you are patient with yourself and provide yourself with the correct education is can be a lot easier than you initially feared. Try introducing one vegan meal a day or a meat-free day each week. There are innumeral vegan cookbooks and recipes online that can help you with your transition.
Here are a few that I use frequently:
3. Conserve our water!
One of the most daunting aspects of the climate catastrophe we are facing is the possibility of a global water drought. There is a finite amount of water on this planet, so we must protect and reserve what we have. The melting of glaciers is altering patterns of precipitation, consequently increasing the likelihood of drought and floods. This in turn will cause disruption to the water cycle that currently provides us with clean, drinkable water.
Here’s a few ways you can help conserve our water
- Take shorter showers: An average shower uses about 5 gallons of water per minute. The average shower lasts around 8.2 minutes, that's 41 gallons per shower... If you shorten your shower by just 2 minutes, you can cut your water use by 10 gallons each time you wash! You can further reduce your water consumption by turning the water off whilst you soap your body and shampoo your hair. I recommend whacking on 'Love on top', Beyoncé which lasts approximately 4.26 minutes and having a fun, friendly competition with yourself to get out before the end.
- Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth: This seems obvious but over a third of people in the UK have admitted to leaving their tap on whilst they brush their teeth. A running tap uses 6 litres of water per minute meaning you can be wasting up to 24 litres of water a day if you don’t turn the tap off to brush your teeth. An easy change with a big pay off!
- Wash your clothes less and on colder washes: Living in a developed country such as the UK means we often take things like washing our clothes for granted. Consider whether you really need to wash your clothing items before chucking them in the washing machine. It can save a significant amount of energy and water if you didn’t wash things that were perfectly ok to wear.
- Purchase eco-friendly soaps and washing up liquids: Many of the soaps, scrubs and washing liquids we find on our store shelfs are filled with toxins that further pollute our water supply. Brands like Ecover and Ecozone create all natural and non-toxic soaps! But, if you're feeling super eco-warrior-esque, you can make your own cleaning products, such as hand soap and surface cleaner with natural, non-toxic ingredients! This will protect your pockets and the planet!
4. Cut single use plastics out of your life
Following David Attenborough stark documentary, Blue Planet, which featured an apocalyptic vision of our oceans today, single-use plastic consumption and production has reduced by 53% in the last 12 months. This is fantastic news but there is still more we can do.
Single-use plastics pollute our oceans and kill our fish. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than marine life. So we need to do more, here are a few ways you can leave the single-use life behind...
- Always carry a reusable tote bag – these can fold up really small in your normal day bag, so even if you need to pop into Sainsbury’s on the way home, you won’t need to buy a plastic bag
- Have a plastic free period – as you can imagine, tampons and pads are key players in the increased levels of single use plastics. On average, a woman will use up to 16,800 disposable pads and tampons during her lifetime. There are plenty of different options you can try: Mooncups, reusable pads and DAME reusable tampon applicators all work just as well, if not better than every day pads and tampons.
- Carry a reusable water bottle - Not only does using a reusable water bottle cut your single use plastic waste, it will also save you money and prevent toxins leaking into the earth once the plastic bottles inevitably head into landfill.
- Reusable coffee cups - Another obvious but incredibly effective switch you can make, 16 billion paper coffee cups are made each year which means 16 billion plastic lids are made to be used alongside them. You can use just ONE reusable cup and save so much single use plastic! Also you tend to get a little off your coffee if you use your own cup! Win, win!
- Tea bags – sadly, tea bags actually do contain plastic, the microplastics from tea bags eventually end up back in our waterways and then in our food chain. Switch to loose leaf teas or give plastic free teas like Pukka and Tea Pigs a go!
- Glitter – it’s one of our favourite festival accessories but unfortunatley the microplastics from glitter never leave the party. Try eco-biodegradable glitter instead.
- Say no to cling film - cling film cannot generally be recycled – switch to reusable food containers or cotton wraps to keep your food fresh.
5. Forget Fast Fashion
The fashion industry produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions, that is more than all international flights and maritime shipping. The average fast fashion item is worn for just 5 hours and kept for 35 days… our addiction to fashion is severely damaging our planet. If we don’t reduce our demand for more, more, more we will use up than a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans. In Stacey Dooley’s recent documentary she sheds a harsh light on the severe pollution our fashion addiction is causing the world.
We need to boy-cot brands like Missguided, Boohoo and Nastygal if we are going to turn back the clocks and save our planet.
Use websites like Depop and eBay to find highstreet store items and hunt in charity shops and vintage stores wherever you can.
Share this article