Set your goals high for 2019 with 12 easy lifestyle adjustments you can make to help fight climate change.
Happy new year! I hope that 2019 brings you good health and good vibes. I’m planning to use this fresh start to recommit to the lifestyle choices I make, considering how they impact the planet. With climate change becoming more serious with each passing day, there’s no time like the present to start making adjustments to help combat it. I’ve written 12 goals for the new year that you can try, each of which presents an easy lifestyle shift for the good of the planet. Do one of them or do all of them – every little bit helps.
1. Consume less red meat & dairy
If you only make one change this year, make it this one. As part of their “final warning” report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that it is imperative for individuals to significantly reduce meat and dairy consumption in order to combat climate change.
The number of sheep and cattle in the UK should be reduced by as much as 50% to combat climate change. A report by the Committee on Climate Change says a 20-50% reduction in beef and lamb pasture could release 3-7m hectares of grassland, which could instead grow forests and biofuels that would help to soak up CO2.
Find out how your diet affects your carbon footprint here. Then set out to change your diet to make it less harmful to the planet. If you can cut out red meat and dairy entirely, do it! With veganism and vegetarianism on the rise across Britain, it has never been easier or tastier to find alternatives to meat and dairy.
2. Offset your Carbon footprint
The UN released this carbon footprint calculator recently. If you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend taking their survey to find out your footprint. If like me, yours is far worse than it should be (when will someone invent a solar-powered airplane?), then they give you the opportunity to offset your footprint by donating to projects that support carbon neutrality.
3. Cycle or walk to work
To start, try doing this at least one day per week and then gradually work your way up until it becomes daily. If you live somewhere that requires driving, take a bus, train, or carpool to work instead, which will also reduce your fuel consumption. If you do drive, make this the year you switch to a hybrid or fully electric vehicle.
4. Give a monthly donation to an environmental charity
There are dozens of environmental charities in the UK, across a broad range of specialties like battling climate change, environmental policy change, wildlife conservation and energy conservation. A monthly donation can often start at just £3 – so helping the planet can cost you little more than one takeaway coffee each month. Find a charity or social enterprise that resonates with you set up a direct debit. Here’s a great list of green charities to get you started.
5. Switch to a renewables energy company
This is a really easy change to make. I switched to Octopus energy this year, whose gas & electric supply come from 100% renewable energy sources, and I ended up saving £10 off my monthly bill when I switched. If Octopus don’t service your area, there are plenty of other options like Bulb, Pure Planet and Ecotricity. If you do want to switch to Octopus, click here to use my code and you’ll get £50 in credit towards your bill.
6. Insulate your home
Keep the hot/cold in with proper insulation. In winter, turn down the heating a couple of degrees and throw on a snuggly jumper. Even renewable energy shouldn’t be wasted. Plus, this will reduce your energy bill while helping the planet!
7. Pack your lunches instead of buying them
A University of Manchester study compared the carbon footprint of homemade sandwiches vs. store bought ones, and found that between their mass production, 24/7 refrigeration and plastic packaging, store bought sandwiches were significantly more harmful to the planet. When you pack a lunch in a reusable container, you create less waste than you would buying a takeaway salad wrapped in single use plastic. If that still isn’t enough to convince you, just think of all the money you’ll save by opting out of that daily Pret habit!
8. Ditch fast fashion
I know, I’m always banging on about this one, but this is important. The fashion industry dumps 92 million tonnes of solid waste into landfills each year, and generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. The majority of polyesters are not biodegradable, which means that at the rate we’re going, we will have filled landfills that will remain filled with discarded Zara blouses and H&M dresses for hundreds of years to come. To help change this, make this year the year you start shopping smarter. Think twice before you buy the latest look from Topshop and do your research; if you aren’t convinced that an item was made sustainably, don’t buy it.
9. Before buying something new, see if you can find it second hand
This can apply not only for clothes but for anything from furniture to electronics. I am especially partial to second hand books and homewares. Moth of the furnishings in my flat were bought secondhand, but don’t look or feel any less lovely than if they were new. We even used secondhand lights on our Christmas tree! If you’re going on a holiday where you might need special clothing or gear that you won’t use again, see if you can borrow it from a friend instead of buying new. You’ll save money and minimise the waste you create.
10. Get involved in environmental activism
Whether you’re only signing petitions or organising peaceful protests, this is a great way to affect change. The Guardian published this article in 2017 with some great ideas about how to get started.
At a minimum, vote to elect representatives whose policies support the future of the planet. Do your research on a candidate’s voting record before you head to the polls. If you’re extra keen to make sure lawmakers consider the planet, you can volunteer as an environmental lobbyist with an organisation like Greenpeace.
12. Reduce waste and recycle
Commit to think twice about everything that you consume and throw away. Save your butter foils to grease baking sheets. Eat your vegetable peels instead of throwing them away. Avoid buying anything that comes wrapped in plastic. Aim to eat everything in your fridge before it goes off. Repair old items instead of throwing them away. Stop buying bottled water and soft drinks. Compost your inedible food scraps. Let’s all set our sights on creating zero waste. Even if we only get halfway there the planet will be better for it.