Following the latest climate change report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) which stresses the need to manage land for the short and long term, World Land Trust (WLT) suggests five ways you can do your bit to tackle climate change.
The report, Climate Change and Land, approved by the world’s governments, has clearly outlined that humanity now faces a stark choice; do we continue as we are, or do we finally take action? If we stick with the status quo, continued deforestation, increasing emissions from cattle and other intensive farming practices will intensify the climate crisis and the impact on land and Earth’s biodiversity will worsen.
One statistic states that 7 in 10 British people are demanding urgent political action to combat climate change and protect the natural environment. We certainly recognise this in WLT supporters who want to know how they can use their voices and what actions they can take to show their commitment to protecting the natural world.
Plastic has been the buzzword for 2019 and there is daily publicity on the need to reduce – if not entirely wipe out – single-use plastics. This has become embedded in daily life along with other ‘environmental icons’ such as using a ‘bag for life’, refusing plastic straws and recycling bottles. We know that the use of fossil fuels must be dramatically reduced. Plastic is a by-product of petroleum, so reducing our reliance on plastic would undoubtedly help. But what about heating and transport? Food? There are clear signs that people are engaging in the dialogue and wish to act. People are thinking about walking, cycling or car-sharing their daily commute, while solar heating and wind energy are finding their place in mainstream consumption. But what can an individual do?
1. Keep your Food Close to Home
Reports state that the global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined. Of course, worldwide veganism would be impossible, as Climate Change and Land confirms, so we aren’t suggesting that everyone needs to become vegan. But everyone can take an interest in where the meat you consume has come from. Locally sourced, organic meat is better for the environment and, therefore, better for the planet, including humans.
You can also measure the carbon footprint of your favourite foods by looking at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46459714. You may be in for a shock; for instance, eating an avocado once a week for a year is the equivalent of driving an average petrol car 39 miles or heating the average UK home for two days.
Locally produced fruit and vegetables are best, but if the supermarket is your only option, plan one big trip instead of popping in a few times a week, choose UK-grown seasonal produce (ideally organic) and buy food with as little packaging as possible. You could even try looking for zero waste retailers nearby which allow you to purchase food in your own containers.
2. Eat your dinner
According to FAO, an estimated one-third of all food produced globally is either lost or wasted. At a time where almost one billion people go hungry, this is unacceptable. Food loss and waste represent a misuse of the labour, water, energy, land and other natural resources that went into producing it. Food embodies much more than what is on our plates. Planning your meals, shopping intentionally, eating smaller portions and using up leftovers means that at least you aren’t part of this statistic.
3. Redefine ‘Well Dressed’
Everything we buy has a carbon footprint, from both its production and its transportation. A report by MPs into the fashion industry put it bluntly: in terms of environmental degradation, the textile industry creates 1.2bn tonnes of CO2 a year, more than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-sized volumes of water, and creates chemical and plastic pollution – as much as 35 per cent of microplastics found in the ocean come from synthetic clothing. So, the answer is obvious: the best thing we can do is to keep our clothing in use for longer and buy less new stuff.
4. Buy Responsibly
We all have the power to be responsible consumers, and it’s not as expensive as people fear. From new cars to computers and wardrobes to wellington boots, understanding where your products were manufactured and imported from, buying preloved items, and making long-term choices can help you to make choices with the smallest impact and limit the impact that your essential purchases have on climate change. But before you make any purchases, check that what you already have can’t be fixed, as that will always be the most responsible choice.
5. Do something positive with WLT
Take a leaf out of World Land Trust supporter Michaela Strachan’s book. Michaela, star of The Really Wild Show and Spring Watch is a believer in green gifting and suggests buying a tree or an acre over a conventional present. Where air travel is concerned, she is pragmatic; sometimes it just isn’t possible to go by train or boat. When that’s the case she proposes making a donation or offsetting your carbon emissions through WLT’s Carbon Balanced programme, which also ensures the conservation of plants, animals and natural communities in areas at risk.