The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that human activity has created a “code red for humanity,” and we must act now if we are to prevent the global temperature from rising to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels and ensure that the Earth remains mostly habitable.
This grave situation might seem too colossal to fight on an individual level, which can trigger feelings of anxiety, despair, and hopelessness. However, the fact is that it is possible to combat climate change through our daily actions, we simply need to commit to these actions to help make a lasting impact. That said, we understand that it may be overwhelming to try and come up with practical solutions that you can apply to your life, so here’s a list of things to choose from.
Switch to a green bank
Thanks to online banking, you can make this change without even leaving the house—and it is sure to have a big impact.
“A significant amount of finance for the fossil fuel industry actually comes from the banking sector, with many… household banking names among the worst perpetrators,” says Adam Scott, corporate partnership manager at Friends of the Earth.
Some upstart financial firms such as Triodos and Ecology Building Society will use depositors’ money to bankroll green initiatives instead of investing in fossil fuels.
Change your diet
Research supports the idea that cutting back on meat and animal byproducts is the one change people can do to significantly reduce their impact on the planet. Luckily, the plant-based trend is catching on and going mainstream, so while eating meat-free might have been difficult in the past, you are sure to find plenty of vegan and vegetarian alternatives in shops and restaurants these days.
Join an environmental group
Do a quick internet search and add your weight to the ongoing efforts to lobby policymakers to slash emissions. Responsible investment charity groups such as Share Action purchase shares in firms so that their volunteers can attend board meetings and pressure companies from the inside to adopt green business models.
Or you can create your own group by collaborating with neighbors and friends to come up with ways that green initiatives could be started or better supported locally.
Go with a green energy provider
Similar to switching to a green bank, switching to a green energy provider is a simple and effective way of reducing your carbon footprint. Check out companies such as Good Energy, which buys 100 percent renewable electricity from independent generators, then sells it to customers, or Ecotricity, a company that invests profits in building new sources of clean energy.
Use energy wisely
Being mindful of how you use energy is another way of slashing your carbon footprint. Turn on appliances like dishwashers and washing machines during the night, when demand is low, or, if you have solar panels, during the brightest time of day. Other easy things you can do are switch off televisions and desktop computers at night, and make sure your heating is off when you’re not in the house. Get a smart meter installed so you can keep a close eye on your energy consumption.
Embrace active travel
If you can bike or walk to where you’re going, then do it! This will substantially reduce your carbon emissions, plus it’s good for your health. For longer journeys, you can still be mindful by taking public transport and trains.
Shun the skies
Air travel accounted for only three percent of global emissions before the pandemic, so it may not seem like too big of a deal, however, it’s one of the fastest-growing sources of emissions and it’s the most difficult sector to decarbonize.
So, whenever possible try to support no-fly travel companies, take trains, or satisfy your travel bug by exploring local attractions.
Find out what’s going right
Keep yourself motivated to keep striving for change by keeping on top of all the good things that are happening in the world. While most media outlets focus on doom and gloom, keep your mindset geared towards solutions by becoming an Optimist Emissary if you’re not one already.
Buy local, seasonal, and ideally, organic
Produce that’s grown locally is much better for the planet than items that are shipped from all over the world. Plus, organic produce is a good investment for your health and the health of wildlife and pollinators that are suffering because of fertilizers and pesticides.
Grow your own
There’s plenty of evidence that suggests that gardening is beneficial not just for the environment, but for your mental health, too. Plus, you get these benefits no matter how big or small the garden is. A collection of plants on your windowsill or an expansive backyard filled with flowers will help you reconnect with nature and cultivate an even deeper desire to protect it.
Instead of buying new products, which often require carbon-intensive manufacturing processes, buy a pre-loved item. Many secondhand shops are online now, which makes it especially convenient.
Another option is to simply repair the items you already have instead of replacing them with something new. There are also services for this such as the Restart Project, which helps people repair their electronic items.
Choose a sustainable pension fund
According to Henna Shah from Make My Money Matter, “investing in your pension more sustainably could be 27 times more powerful than going vegan and stopping flying combined.”
Make sure to scrutinize your pension provider to ensure that your pension fund isn’t backing fossil fuels or weaponry. “Speak to your employer and your pension provider and say, “actually, I want an option where I’m not investing in these things,” suggests Shah.
After pension funds, insurers are the biggest investors, which means that selecting an ethical insurance company is crucial to making sure that your money isn’t supporting the fossil fuel sector. Instead, find an insurance company like Naturesave, which donates profits to environmental causes.
Vote for parties with strong environmental policies
When you have a chance to practice your right to vote, do it. Make sure to look at each party’s environmental policies as well as their environmental record to help you select the candidate or party that you think has the most effective game plan to cut carbon emissions down to net zero.