You cannot turn on the news without hearing about climate change. And, as the mercury rises in the thermometers this summer; new records have been set. Climate change deniers claim that there have always been trends of peaks and troughs when it comes to extremes of temperature. However, it is becoming abundantly clear that we are rapidly hurtling towards a situation where we will see the results of dramatic environmental damage occurring within our lifetime.
We can sit back and claim that it isn’t our doing. We can blame it on industry, or the government. But the fact of the matter is, we are all to blame. We are all consumers, creating the demand for big businesses. We are all citizens voting for governments who push environmental issues to the back of the agenda while they focus on tax, trade, and marketing. Every act that we perform on this planet can have some repercussions. From what we eat, and where we shop. From getting from A-Z, or even just from A-B. You are in control of the world’s destiny.
While bringing about change requires a political change, as well as full support of all industries, there are seven billion of us on the planet, and we collectively have responsibilities as individuals to help. There are lots of things that you can personally do to help minimise your own impact on the world, here are a few simple suggestions.
Practising Ethical Consumerism
When you use a service, check out the environmental credentials of the company that you are using. Any conscious global brand should realise that this is part of their branding strategy and should promote their environmental activities proudly. Dig deeper than the mission statement though, look into product sourcing, ingredients, and what kind of reputation they have.If they don’t stack up, there are probably plenty of businesses out there that offer a very similar product or service. If we as consumers want big companies to change their ways, we need to show them by taking our business elsewhere.
For example, many of the major energy providers are still largely reliant on coal to create electricity. The pollution generated during production from these power stations is staggering. While there are targets in place to reduce emissions, there are renewable sources out there that do not burn through finite resources, while not emitting pollutants into the atmosphere.
Bulb is a company that set out to disrupt the energy industry. Renewable energy is the primary reason for switching, but they have also gained a great deal of new business with the way they reward their customers. By signing up using a referral link, you will get £50 credited to your account. Following that, any new sign-ups you get, you’ll earn another £50 and they will too. It sounds too good to be true? Well, it really does work. It takes a couple of minutes to set up, and they deal with the switch over.
Moving away from dirty electricity to clean is a step that you can do to let businesses know that their methods of production are not acceptable. When there are several good renewable power sources available, there is no need for coal in this century.
Think about how far a product has traveled to get to you. If you can eat local produce, then do so. Our tastes have changed so much over the last few decades, and we expect fruit out of season, or exotic items that can’t grow in our country. When these need air-freighting into the country so that we get the freshest fruit, we should be asking ourselves, do we need these items?
Look at the packaging. More and more, we expect our products to be protected by layers of plastic. Our bins get fuller as we dispose of the packaging that surrounds our overconsumption. If you can choose between a product with lots of packaging, and one that uses a minimal amount, you should do your best to choose the option that is better for the environment.
None of this is to say that there are not big companies out there who are trying to change their reputation for these areas. But while some lead the way in progressing with environmental concerns, others seem barely conscious of them.
Veganism And Flexitarianism
‘How can you tell if someone is a vegan? They’ll tell you a thousand times a day’.
Veganism does get quite a bit of bad press. It’s the butt of jokes, and there is the unfair notion that vegans are militant. That said though, veganism is on the rise, with more and more people converting every year. Recently, the increase has not come from people who are focused on animal rights, but more and more, environmental concerns are the major contributing factor for the switch.
The environmental concerns with animal agriculture centre around the volume of land used to produce meat and dairy, and the emissions it creates. When so much of the world’s forests are chopped down to make way for crops to feed the animals that we eat, it begs the question, is this economical? The answer is, no. Deforestation leads to less neutralization of Co2, while animal agriculture alone contributes 11% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Added to this, methane, the byproduct of animal agriculture is potentially 28 times more harmful than Co2.
It can be a huge shift in lifestyle to ditch meat and dairy suddenly. However, when you consider the broader impacts on the environment, even a reduction in the amount of these things that you consume can be beneficial.
Flexitarianism is a term adopted by many who acknowledge the problems that surround animal agriculture and look to minimise their involvement in supporting it. By having days when you only eat vegan food, any days where you eat meat and dairy might seem like a treat.
Often, flexitarianism is used a stepping stone to vegetarianism, and then onto veganism. Transitioning that way is much less of a shock to the system as you adapt to a vastly different diet.