Why you need to take urgent action to live a greener life
Since the mid 1970’s humans have been exceeding our planet’s capacity to sustain us. Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and to absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth 1.5 years to regenerate what we use in a year. If current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s we will need the equivalent of 2 Earths to support us.
The Paris Agreement of 2015 sends a clear signal that cutting CO2 emissions globally will not only help countries respond to the impact of climate change, but it is also compatible with economic growth.
Community and businesses need to work together to encourage people to take up measures to reduce fossil fuel dependence. This is our chance to co-operate, collaborate and to rebuild communities. It is our chance to help to build a more sustainable planet for future generations. It’s our chance to grow the UK low-carbon sector, which is already worth over £46 billion, as we continue to provide secure, affordable and clean energy to our families and businesses.
The issue of climate change can seem overwhelming, but there are simple things you can do to both help the planet and your pocket – from the very simplest (and free) measures, like closing curtains or blinds at dusk, draught-proofing and insulating your house, right up to installing solar panels on your roof to generate your own electricity. Or you could start recycling waste resources that your local Council cannot recycle via great schemes like Terracycle.
Be assured that there are things absolutely EVERYONE can do to help the planet and reduce their bills. Being Green starts at home!
Action against climate change
Here are 22 actions you can take to reduce the effects of climate change, contribute towards a healthier planet and be part of the momentum of change! This checklist will help you achieve that. Downloadable versions below.
- Clean renewable energy. Sign up in less than five minutes to receive your energy from companies who supply 100% renewable energy, switch to potentially cheaper electricity generated by water, wind and sun. Encourage friends, colleagues and neighbours to switch. Click on www.bigcleanswitch.org/sussexgreen/
- Reduce your energy use. Turn off lights and appliances when you are not using them and unplug devices when not in use. Replace standard bulbs with energy-efficient compact florescent bulbs. Insulate pipes, walls and your loft, turn down heating.
- Get a smart meter through your energy provider. Smart meters allow you to easily see how much money you are spending on electricity and make you more aware about your energy use. You in turn use less and save money.
- Avoid fast fashion. Love your clothes, repair, remake, adjust, make your clothes last. Buy from companies committed to sustainable fashion, from charity shops, organise your own clothes swaps. The fast fashion industry is the second highest climate change contributor and a heavy polluter of water systems and soil. Purchasing clothes from Asia means a big carbon footprint.
- High efficiency appliances. Appliances with ENERGY STAR ratings typically utilise a minimum of 20 % less energy (they use less energy and save you money).
- Ethical banking. Move your money from conventional banks who are investing your savings and pensions in fossil fuels and polluting industries. Tell your bank why you are divesting. www.moveyourmoney.org.uk/institution-types/ethical-banks/
- Increase your vegetable intake. Animal agriculture globally is responsible for more climate change than global transportation systems combined. Farming animals for meat and dairy uses unsustainable levels of water, contributes to land and water degradation, acid rain, biodiversity loss, coral reef degeneration and deforestation. Vegan/vegetarian food is main stream and delicious; avoid palm oil which destroys rainforests. Increasing your organic food intake is good for planet, people, animals and those vital insects.
- Review your transport. Walk or bike, use public transport or a carpool if you can. Participate in or start car-free days in your community. Consider an electric car (powered with 100% renewable electricity), an electric plug in car or a hybrid car. Maintain your car well and drive economically. Flying is carbon and pollution intensive, take a traincation, enjoy travelling just a little bit slower. If necessary, calculate your emissions and offset using a responsible, verified scheme. e.g. www.carbonfootprint.com
- Write to your local MP and local councillors about climate change and sustainability issues. Remember to Vote. Raise your concerns and lobby your representatives for clean energy, healthy oceans, protection for the world’s forests, recycling etc. Sign petitions eg. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and make a difference! Write to the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and ask for emissions reduction.
- Share your knowledge. Talk to your friends and colleagues and neighbours, don’t be shy! Join local groups which you identify with. Contact Carrie at
about Climate Reality talks and training. www.climaterealityproject.org
- Plant trees and celebrate life! Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, they provide homes for wildlife too! Encourage others to plant a tree and only buy wooden goods made using wood from sustainable forests and are FSC certified.
- Water conservation. Shower rather than bath, no dripping taps, turn off taps while cleaning teeth and shaving. Use rainwater butts for the garden. Any water conservation results in reduced energy requirements and carbon emissions. Wash on the coolest wash cycle and hang to dry. Consider water tap aerators, resource-efficient water taps and shower heads.
- Reduce, Repair, Recycle and Refill. Buy goods and food which have no packaging or minimal / recyclable packaging. Recycle any packaging where you can. Ask retailers if they can recycle or re-use packaging, leave it in the store! Electrical equipment and clothes can often be repaired, find your local Repair Café www.repaircafe.org/en/ to see if their volunteers can fix it. We run the Horsham Repair Cafe, learn more here. If not electronics can now be disposed of safely at your local waste recycling centre. Sussex Green Living offer a special single-use plastic recycling scheme more information here www.sussexgreenliving.co.uk/recycling-zone/single-use/. Find shops and community groups who offer a refill service. Water bottle refills, learn more here. We offer a bottle refill service at the Horsham Repair Cafe for environmentally friendly household cleaning products, shower gel and shampoo, through a local company called Earthkind you can also buy loose, organic and dry food, bring a container and fill it up at the Horsham Repair Cafe.
- Repurpose or Reuse. Rather than discarding or recycling clothing and household goods, donate to charity, swap or exchange for something else, have a garage sale or give away through Freecycle, Freegle or Trash Nothing. Repurposing means the amount of wastebeing sent to landfill sites is reduced, no energy is used for recycling, and others can benefit from your used items. Be creative, reinvent, remake, recreate!
- Avoid clothing and food waste going to landfill. These are some of the worst culprits for greenhouse gases as they release methane as they decompose. Make your own compost with any food waste to help your garden grow! Waste recycling centres will take unusable clothing which can have industrial uses, take usable clothing to your local charity shop.
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables. Growing your own vegetables is fun and good for the environment. Home grown food means no packaging, no food miles, more nutrition and taste. Think about grow bags, hanging baskets or an allotment for your veggies and fruit.
- Drought-tolerant plants. Select garden plants that are well suited to your local climate and require minimal watering and attention. Also make sure you include plants which are good for our wonderful pollinators!
- Choose to buy from ethical companies. Ethical businesses avoid damage to the environment and animals, avoid exploiting people through low wages,
avoid child labour, and avoid producing products which are harmful or dangerous. Only purchase furniture with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification: FSC is the only credible forest certification system that ensures environmentally and socially responsible management of forests.
- Buy products that are ecologically safe. Many cleaning products and toiletries are toxic to the environment and are tested on animals so avoid. Try to buy less and waste less. Use your purchasing power to support eco-friendly and biodegradable products, look at your labels and look out for certifications such as Soil Association or Fair Trade, MSC, organic, www.ethicalconsumer.org/ is a great resource. At the Horsham Repair Café we offer an environmentally friendly cleaning product, shampoo and shower gel bottle refill service.
- Staycation. Flying emits significant climate changing and polluting gas emissions. Instead, why not think about getting to know the UK better and take a staycation instead of going abroad. Not only is the train greener, but it’s more fun with a family. If you must fly then offset your emissions eg. Atmosfair or www.carbonfootprint.com
- Get a better idea of your carbon footprint. Use a carbon footprint calculator to work out where your family is having the most impact on the environment so you know better how to tackle it: http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/
- Change the Law. The planet needs international legal protection. Join the call for a law of Ecocide and sign up to be a conscientious protector. stopecocide.earth/
Further sources of help and reading can be found here.
Join a green local community group
Are you concerned about your community or the health of the planet as a whole?
Perhaps you want to learn what you can do to build a better future for your children. Then a transition group might be for you – see these sites for more information: Transition Culture and Transition Network
Whether you just visit their website to learn more about what is going on or find local suppliers, or whether you actively join the group, that is up to you. Transition groups are about building community networks, sharing and learning new skills. They are about cutting our carbon emissions through establishing new community based ways of producing energy and heating our houses efficiently, reducing our individual carbon footprint, recycling and reducing waste. It is about growing healthy local produce, encouraging local biodiversity through seed swaps, mending clothes and knitting, baking bread and making preserves, learning more through reading groups and film nights, having fun and travelling lightly.
Here are the transition groups in West Sussex:
Steyning 10:10 Climate Action Group This is not a transition group, but an independent group that took on a 10:10 banner when they started out, and has since adopted and adapted a ‘Greening Campaign’ community awareness raising approach.
South East Climate Alliance – is a coalition of local environment, community and faith groups across South East England uniting for urgent action on climate change. Sussex Green Living and the Horsham Repair Cafe are founding members of SECA.
https://www.climaterealityproject.org/. Use your voice. Let the world know the reality of climate change. Explore the actions below and get vocal with your friends, family, and community today.
https://www.theccc.org.uk/. The CCC is an independent body established under the Climate Change Act to advise the UK Government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/. A quick and easy way to measure your environmental carbon footprint which could change the way you live, produced by the World Wildlife Fund.
http://ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk/. Funded by Defra and site managed by the Environment Agency and the Met Office.
http://www.theclimatecoalition.org/. The Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change and limiting its impact on the world’s poorest communities.
http://www.ciwf.org.uk/. Compassion in World Farming’s Food Business team is working with some of the world’s biggest food companies – retailers, producers and manufacturers – towards a more ethical and sustainable food supply.
http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/. Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organisation with offices in over 40 countries.
https://www.foe.co.uk/. Friends of the Earth (EWNI) is one of 70 national groups around the world which make up the Friends of the Earth network of environmental organizations. It is usually referred to just as Friends of the Earth within its home countries.
http://ethical-company-organisation.org/. Aims to help people make informed decisions about which brands are best for the planet, best for animals and best for people world-wide.
https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ is a not-for-profit UK magazine and website which publishes information on the social, ethical and environmental behaviour of companies and issues around trade justice and ethical consumption.
Want to get involved?
“Sussex people inspiring a climate for change”