Did you watch BBC1’s ‘Climate Change: The Facts‘ by David Attenborough? What did you think? I thought it was pretty compelling stuff. How Donald Trump can deny the existence of climate change is beyond belief – but that’s a whole other blog post! I’m not going to get too political here!
A quick summary
If you didn’t see it, here’s a brief synopsis to get you caught up.
Our global temperature has risen by one degree over the last 100 years.
Although that doesn’t sound like a lot, our world depends on a very fine balance between all the systems that support it. And that one degree increase is enough to throw us out all out of whack. It’s having a terrible impact on our weather, our animals, our delicate eco systems and, of course, our people. Ice is melting, animals are losing their natural habitat, beautiful coral is dying in the sea, and hundreds of people are losing their lives in tsunamis and wildfires.
The big message from the programme is that although the problems we’ve created are extremely serious, it isn’t too late to take action and reduce the impact of climate change. We’ve set ourselves some pretty big targets and we all need to take responsibility if we’re going to achieve them. There are three key things that David said we could all do to help which I’ll share below. As a family, we’ll be doing our best to reduce our own carbon footprint as much as possible.
Just before I share those three things though, I wanted to mention palm oil. Palm oil was a bit of a revelation for me in the programme. Although I’d heard it mentioned before, I wasn’t really aware of why it was so bad. I already try to avoid parabens, sulphates and mineral oils in our toiletries. But palm oil is now a new addition to my list.
In this programme, I learnt that in many countries, particularly in South America, forests are being destroyed to make room to plant oil palm trees, which bear the fruits from which palm oil is derived. Palm oil is considered to be a rather magical ingredient that you will find in so many things in your house. I’m pretty diligent about checking ingredients in toiletries but now I’ll be checking for palm oil too. I plan to put together a blog post for you at some point, sharing some of the safe products I’ve found.
How can we reduce our impact?
So, what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint?
Our carbon footprint currently stands at around 13 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person per year.
That’s pretty hefty. So here are a few of the things we can do to help reduce it:
- Make our homes as energy efficient as possible (double-glazing, smart meters etc.)
- Get your house insulated (especially the roof)
- Buy fewer physical products
- Buy higher quality products and make them last (e.g. less fast fashion)
So, really, it’s all about being far less wasteful, in everything we do. Being less wasteful doesn’t mean our quality of life will go down.
Here are three simple ways we can all reduce waste and our carbon footprint:
Eat everything you buy.
This sounds simple but I know that we’ve been guilty of throwing away food that has gone past its use-by date. I try not to over-buy with food, but I’m going to be extra careful from now on with my weekly shops.
We’re lucky that we have a local Best Before Café where you can take spare food so that it doesn’t go to waste. It is such a great idea – maybe check to see if you have one locally too. If not, you could start one. Ours has proved really popular.
Avoid air-freighted foods.
Air-freighted foods are a carbon nightmare! Switching to foods that are produced in the UK will help to offset this.
Up until now, I haven’t spent much time looking at where all our food comes from, but I will definitely be going through our grocery shopping and making switches where possible. Check those labels!
Reduce your meat and dairy consumption, especially beef and lamb.
Red meat has a huge environmental impact because of methane production. Methane is a far more potent green house gas than carbon dioxide.
We don’t eat lamb but we do eat beef occasionally. Tom and I have both agreed that we won’t eat it anymore. He does love a burger but he said he’s happy to have chicken instead. And I love a spaggy bol but I’m happy to use Quorn instead of beef mince.
In terms of dairy, we do, as a family, consume a lot of cow’s milk. Tom and I have discussed trying a different kind of milk but have yet to do it. I’m going to start researching what the closest substitute would be taste-wise, as Ethan is very fussy and absolutely loves his milk. Even if Ethan continues to drink cow’s milk but we swap it out for us, it’s still an improvement. If you have any suggestions on what might be good to try, please do post in the comments.
Small changes will make a big difference
The experts in the programme said that if we do the things I’ve mentioned above, we could knock two tonnes off our own carbon footprint. We all need to do our bit if we’re going to hit emissions targets.
It doesn’t have to involve huge lifestyle changes. We can still enjoy our lives and what we do. But it’s about being more mindful of what we’re buying, buy quality over quantity, and not being wasteful.
It’s also about educating ourselves and our children about the little changes we can make that, when added up, will make a huge difference to our world. Greta Thunberg, the inspirational sixteen-year old climate change activist, is doing a great job at this!
Share your thoughts
I’ll keep you posted on here about how we’re getting on with our lifestyle changes. One of the biggest changes we’ve made in the last couple of years is buying an electric car (which I love, by the way). I’ll be honest and say the other changes we make will probably be smaller and bit by bit, rather than quite so drastic! But our intention to live better is there and that’s a good starting point.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you – did you see the programme? Has it inspired you to make any changes? Please share your thoughts in the comments.