Helping to save the planet from climate change can seem like an impossible task – but it’s not. Climate change is a human problem, and we can all contribute to worsening it, or helping to fix it. Even small individual actions, or slight changes in habits can have a big impact.
The last year has shown that carbon emissions can be reduced if we change our lifestyles. The Covid-19 pandemic meant that in 2020 global emissions were down by 7%. Despite this, they are expected to rebound by 5% in 2021, before continuing to grow past 2019 levels. To prevent this, we must act now.
Here are five ways you can help:
1. Prevent global deforestation!
Forests are critical to the survival of every living thing on Earth. Forests clean the air, absorb greenhouse gas emissions, and stabilize the climate—both globally and locally. Forests also provide habitat for 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and livelihoods for 1.6 billion people.
The current climate crisis, however, has multiplied the likelihood of both forest fires and traditional burning cycles spinning quickly out of control. Rising temperatures and extreme heat dry out ecosystems to the point of extreme vulnerability.
You can vote for local, regional and national government that supports environmentally sound and economically viable practices. Alternatively, sign petitions to put pressure on food brands to do their due diligence on their supply chains and check where the ingredients are sourced in your favourite grocery items to ensure they’re not linked to deforestation. If you must buy a product containing palm oil, which is one of the leading causes of deforestation, choose certified palm oil. Certification can be a powerful tool alongside other interventions to ensure brands have taken into account the impact of their sourcing operations on the environment. In particular, look out for deforestation-free pledges from recognised accreditation organisations.
2. Watch what you eat
Increasing the number of plant-based meals you eat will really help you to slash your carbon footprint. You don’t have to suddenly become a vegetarian to help reduce your impact, why not start with two no-meat days a week? Or you could try to avoid eating beef, the meat with the largest environmental impact. When compared globally, beef accounts for about 65% of all livestock sector emissions.
If you are going to eat beef, be aware of what impact this might be having. Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter and illegal cattle ranching in the Amazon has increased deforestation there, in one of the world’s most important ecosystems. Beef production is responsible for 80% of Amazon deforestation. Are you sure that burger’s worth it?
3. Take the train
A simple way you can reduce your emissions is by avoiding air travel where possible. Whilst this is difficult to do with long haul trips, there’s often a train alternative for short haul trips.
On average, travelling by train produces less emissions than flying. For long haul flights, carbon emissions per passenger per kilometre travelled are about three times higher for business class and four times higher for first class, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).That is why some countries are even making it illegal in some cases to use planes where there is a train alternative. France was the first country to do this, banning domestic flights on routes that can be covered by train in under two and a half hours.
4. Reduce waste and recycle!
TV programmes such as Blue Planet showed us the damage wreaked by plastic pollution. Recycling our used products can help ensure that they are reused and not dumped. Applying pressure to ensure that your country recycles its waste and doesn’t end up exporting it to other countries will also help make our planet cleaner.
Food waste is also a cause for concern. For example, UK households are responsible for 6.6 Million Tonnes of food waste every year and by weight it makes up 70% of the total food waste in the UK. This means that all the energy, water usage and products used to grow that food have also been wasted. Making sure that you do not buy more food than you need, or freezing food before it goes off, are two clever ways of reducing your impact on the planet.
Reducing waste helps us to live in a more circular economy, which in turns helps us to limit our environmental impact. Instead of wasting energy in food production, we can reduce our emissions. Instead of extracting new materials, we can recycle those that have already been extracted.
5. Sign up to the Rainforest Alliance’s 30-day challenge
For more easy ideas on how you can make a difference, why not sign up for the Rainforest Alliance’s 30-Day Challenge? You’ll receive lots of tips to inspire you to make more environmentally conscious decisions by adjusting your daily habits. Tips range from conserving water, switching to a plant-rich diet to choosing alternative energy sources like wind and solar as well as reducing your energy consumption. For example, by switching your energy supplier to a renewable provider you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint—and often save money in the process.