Feel Overwhelmed by Climate Change? 10 Small Changes You Can Make Now

IN 2018 the hottest period on record was officially confirmed, with the world experiencing its hottest five-years from 2013 through 2017. The global temperature averaged over the last five years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) has been confirmed as the highest ever on record for any five-year period. This record is part of a sharp, long-term upswing in global temperatures, with 17 out of the 18 years hottest years on record all occurring in this century.

The Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said the global data release was timely after the Federal Government admitted that Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution levels were consistently rising, contributing to intensifying climate change.

The Climate Change Council released this interesting infographic the "Angry Summer of 2018/19". It was characterised by prolonged, continental-wide heatwaves and record hot days, bushfires throughout Australia, and heavy rainfall and flooding in northern Queensland.

  • The record-breaking heat in Australia over the 2018/19 Summer is part of a long-term warming trend from the burning of fossil fuels and land clearing.
  • For many years scientists have warned that climate change is driving worsening extreme weather. The Angry Summer is another example of the consequences of climate change today.
  • Protecting Australians from worsening extreme weather requires phasing out fossil fuels and accelerating the transition to renewables and storage technologies.

10 small steps you can make to help lessen climate change

Major changes at a Government level are needed to continue the transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology but we too as individuals can make changes, which contribute to the overall pollution and global warming taking place now in Australia. This is a worldwide problem so the same 10 small changes apply to every human no matter where you live.

1. BYO //

BYO is not just wine - think coffee cups, shopping bags, bamboo stainless steel or even glass straws, takeaway re-usable containers, bamboo cutlery, glass or stainless steel water bottles. Cutting back or cutting out on your single-use plastic habit is absolutely paramount towards the health or our waterways and oceans. Also, stop and consider the plastics can contain compounds (chemicals) which can be harmful to humans. 

2. REPURPOSE & REUSE //

Think of ways you can up-cycle what you already have or can you can give things a new life, be creative if you really don't want something anymore ask friends and family if they would use or can you donate to an op-shop. If something has reached the end of its useful life then dispose of it properly and recycle where possible.

Do you really need a new phone when your service provider offers you the latest newest version? If your current phone is in good working order then no you do not! Take a moment to consider how much energy, resources, fossil fuels, and environmental impacts go into producing more and new clothes, textiles, white goods, phones, computers, etc. I have just opted to keep my perfectly fine two-year-old phone instead of the newest shiny version, I have also saved $60 per month.  

3. SHOP LOCAL //

And eat seasonal - food grown and purchased locally travels less, reducing your carbon footprint due to fewer emissions. Your produce is fresher and you are supporting your local farmers. If you don’t live near a farmer’s market, search online as produces often have an online store that will deliver produce in your region.

4. YOU DON'T NEED DAIRY //

According to The World Wildlife Fund Organisation, millions of farmers worldwide tend approximately 270 million dairy cows to produce milk. Milk production impacts the environment in various ways, and the scale of these impacts depends on the practices of the dairy farmers and feed growers. Dairy production has a big effect on climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. Did you know Cow's milk, depending on the milk variety (A1 or A2), contains a variety of casomorphin peptides, these "food opiates" are heavily concentrated in wheat and dairy products, especially cow’s milk. Cutting down your dairy consumption or try a substitution that actually offers a nutrient-dense healthy alternative. There are many dairy milk alternatives read The Dairy-Free Plant Milks You Need To Try.  

5. CONSUME LESS MEAT //

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency globally, the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions are:

  • Electricity and heat 31%
  • Agriculture 11%
  • Transportation 15%
  • Forestry 6% 
  • Manufacturing 12%
  • Energy production of all types accounts for 72% of all emissions.

(World Resources Institute, 2017)

Consuming less or completely eliminating meat from your diet is the most impactful lifestyle change you can make to help reduce climate change. Industrialised agriculture is responsible for 11% of global carbon emissions, and contributes to water pollution and land use. Why not start with meat-free Mondays, and gradually add more vegetable based meals along with wild-caught fish to your diet. There are so many resources avail to us to help with inspiration and recipes to make this transition. Eating according to environmentally sustainable principles has a new name: the climatarian diet. Mark Pershin, the founder of Less Meat Less Heat, says the fundamental principle of the climatarian diet is carbon-conscious eating, or “considering the carbon footprint of our food choices and shifting our diets towards ones that are compatible with a safe and stable climate for both current and future generations.”

6. COMPOST YOUR WASTE //

Did you know if your food scraps end up in landfills when begins to decompose, it is broken down by bacteria through anaerobic digestion? Without oxygen to facilitate the decaying process the food waste begins to produce methane a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Setting up a composting system at home to process your food scraps is easy to do and the by-product is a rich fertilizer for your soil which leads to the next tip.

7. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD //

Alongside buying locally grown food direct from producers or a farmer’s market which greatly reduces your environmental impact, why not start growing your own food? You can begin with some simple herbs inside or outside, short of space? there are vertical planting systems you can use to grow salad leaves and herbs and take it from there. It is a great project to do with children if there are any in your family or you are a carer grandparent, etc. There are many systems available, and books to help you get started, don't forget your local library! Start small, and keep it simple and learn as you grow!

8. REDUCE PLASTIC //

According to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the best research currently available estimates that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today. The ocean is expected to contain 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight). You can have an immediate effect by swapping:

  • Single-use plastic for recyclable plastics - it's a start but not a solution
  • Plastic straws for glass bamboo or stainless steel straws
  • Avoid microplastics in your beauty routine, always read the ingredient labels look “polyethylene” and “polypropylene” and leave them on the shelf both real and virtual! (if online shopping)
  • Choose alternatives to cling wrap, Glass containers are a good option most can go from the fridge to the oven and are dishwasher safe. A Beeswax wrap is portable and so easy to use (and look they great too!) Often you can find someone locally who makes them from off-cuts of material - upcycling at its best!
  • Reusable coffee and teacups and
  • A stainless steel water bottle or a glass one replace single-use plastic bottles. Remembering to take it with you can drastically reduce your impact.
  • If you love sparkling mineral water consider investing in a carbonation system such as SodaStream - you can make your own soda water at home, again avoiding adding to the plastic pollution problem.

9. WASH LESS AND WASH IN COOLER WATER //

Approximately 75% of the energy required to do a load of laundry goes into heating the water. Using cold water saves energy, putting less pressure on electricity grids. It can also save you some money. A recent estimate by Consumer Reports suggests that using a cold-water detergent and setting your machine to 40 degrees compared to 60 degrees can save you annually on your utility bills.

Air dry - whenever possible choose to hang your clothes outside on the line. Save the tumble dryer (and your electric bills) for when it's absolutely essential to use. You can air dry in your home too find a sunny spot and benefit from the antibacterial properties of the sun. UV kills bacteria so hanging clothes on the line and or in the sunlight, works well with cold washing. 

Unless your clothes smell or have visible stains, your outfit is fine to hang back in the wardrobe for another wear. For odours and stains, you can try spot cleaning or spray the areas that need cleaning. Then hang them outside in the fresh air and sunlight to dry.

Use clothes wash bag - 75% of new clothes are now made from plastic and ends up in the ocean as microfiber pollution. These tiny fibers shed from clothing when they are washed and manage to filter out into our waterways and oceans. The GUPPYFRIEND™ Washing Bag protects synthetic garments and reduces the number of microfibers that may enter riverways and oceans from washing. After washing garments in GUPPYFRIEND, remove the microfibers from the bag and throw them away in the trash.

10. PLANT TREES //

How about planting a tree for a Birthday gift for a family member or a friend? Planting trees can help offset the emissions we produce. Each country has organisations you can make a donation to and they will plant a tree on your behalf. Here in Australia, there is a Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund (CNCF) which helps individuals, families, and organisations to minimise their impact on the environment. The CNCF uses the funds raised through donations and carbon offsets to plant native trees on degraded land in Australia, helping to conserve the natural biodiversity.

Until next time,

be human be kind be you.

gabrielle

 

 

 

love letter

 

REFERENCES //

The Climate Council Australia
https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/2018-19-angry-summer-infographic/

World Wildlife Fund 
https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/dairy

Less Meat Less Heat
http://www.lessmeatlessheat.org/

Environmental Protection Agency -  Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data
https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

The New Plastics Economy
https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/NPEC-Hybrid_English_22-11-17_Digital.pdf

Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund 
https://cncf.com.au/about-us/

Washing clothes cold water
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/case-washing-clothes-cold-water-180955459/#abwPz8i3A29tsrBo.99

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