“Here are the frivolous fifty, with the common denominator to feel guilty about the joys of driving or flying; staying cool or warm; consuming meat, fish, or dairy. And ‘stop saying thank you [in notes and letters]’ and ‘shop vintage.’ And of course, install those solar panels (never mind the UK fog).”
Yesterday’s post examined the human-hate book, The Ahuman Manifesto: Activism for the End of the Anthrocene” by Patricia MacCormack (Bloomsbury Academic: 2020). A positive review of that screed introduced me to CambridgeshireLive, a progressive, climate-on-fire news source. There, I encountered CambridgeshireLive’s #Do1thing campaign listing 50 personal actions to address (really?) climate change.
With the failure of country-by-country politics to mitigate if not reverse emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), and consumers naturally choosing the best energies in terms of affordability, convenience, and reliability, it is business-as-usual with fossil fuels’ 85 percent global market share.
So climate activists are hassling one and all to reduce their carbon footprint. Here in the U.S., the New York Times has been running such a series for some time (see my rebuttal to their “Plan a Climate Friendly Cookout” and other heavy-handed suggestions.)
The #Do1thing campaign begins with this pitch:
… we at Cambridgeshire Live are working with our country-wide network of websites and newspapers to encourage our loyal readers to make one small change to save our world for future generations…. We don’t expect you to make colossal changes to your life. Our message to you is simple and is underpinned by the hashtag #Do1Thing. Obvious isn’t it?
There are three problems with this approach. It is all tears-in-the-ocean if you do the climate math with the world’s energy choices going the other way. Second, it sets up going from voluntary to mandatory. And third, it is distracting and inconvenient.
Regarding the third point, I have argued elsewhere:
In a free society, personal choices are made for reasons of health, safety, convenience, quality, and affordability. Time is as important as dollars. Quality is valued over lesser substitutes. Self-sacrifice for some other person’s notion of good is not very motivating.
Here are the frivolous fifty, with the common denominator to feel guilty about the joys of driving or flying; staying cool or warm; consuming meat, fish, or dairy. And “stop saying thank you [in notes and letters]” and “shop vintage.” And of course, install those solar panels (never mind the UK fog).
Lace up those boots for shorter journeys and take public transport or cycle when you can. Taking your car off the road for one day a week can really make a difference. Cars are said to account for 60.7 per cent of total CO2 emissions from road transport in Europe.
The first plastic toothbrush was made in the 1930s. Since it takes 400 years for them to decompose, nearly every single toothbrush made since then is still out there. So think about that for a minute while you’re getting ready for work. Bamboo handles take around six months to compost.
The average shower in the UK lasts eight minutes and uses around 60 litres of water, according to The Green Age. A water-saving shower head restricts the volume of water, so it’s an easy swap to make. Can you also spend a little less time in the shower? Try singing just the one song in the morning instead of a band’s greatest hits!
Green energy can save you money but and sends a message to your supplier that you want to avoid electricity generated from fossil fuels.
Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. And don’t forget to turn off lights when you leave a room. Just think of it like making an entrance on your way out.
Swap this year’s holiday abroad for something in the UK, and you could even travel by train to make it that much more eco-friendly. The Air Transport Action Group was flights worldwide produced 895 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018. Besides, you know what Dorothy said about there being no place quite like home…
A tidy house may not lead to a tidy mind. But a well-insulated one is very energy efficient.
Move to a green bank and your money will be invested in clean energy.
There’s loads of tasty vegan grub, just ask Greggs. So even if it’s just a day or two a week, try to eat more plant-based food. To put it into perspective, it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat, while 25 gallons of water is needed for one pound of wheat, PETA say.
Even if it’s one day a week, try to go dairy-free. In an Oxford University study, boffins found that “avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth.”
Is it so hard to buy a can instead of a bottle? Thought not. A study by Earthwatch Europe found that 5.5 billion plastic bottles are littered, incinerated or sent to landfill each year, producing 233,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
Whether it’s tools, clothes or books, borrowing from friends and neighbours will save you money, too.
We’ve all heard the wash at 30 mantra, but did you know a lower-temperature wash is less likely to shake out plastic fibres? Also think about whether something really needs to be washed. You can now buy things like the laundry spray named Day 2 aims to help you to get more wear out of your clothes with less washing, and it only costs about £7.50. That’s time saved on chores, too. Win win.
It’s time to stop using single use plastic, and your lunch is a good place to start.
Those baby wipes razors, tampons and nappies, for example, all have reusable alternatives. So start using them. The average household in the UK produces more than a tonne of waste every year.
The Energy Savings Trust estimates that up to £80 a year is wasted in the average home because of appliances left on standby. That’s a lot of electricity (and money) wasted.
We are all pretty good at recycling now, but we can aim to be better. Think about recycling batteries, old mobile phones, and broken appliances, to name a few. And while we’re on the subject, buy recycled goods instead of new ones.
Research suggests that the UK may already use as many as five billion coffee cups per year. That’s a lot of cups. And a lot of coffee. So while you may assume coffee cups are recyclable, most single-use ones contain a thin plastic lining. Lots of places now offer discounts to customers who use their own coffee cups too.
Not only will you save carbon emissions but you’ll save money too. And think how chuffed you’ll be serving up your own spuds at the dinner table.
Supermarket produce can travel hundreds of miles to get to you, so start buying local where you can.
If your job allows, work from home one day each week. Or at least think about asking if it’s possible. Because if you don’t ask you don’t get, right? You’ll cut carbon emissions from not travelling and won’t be tempted with plastic-wrapped meal deals.
And stop using plastic bags for loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items, too.
Put on a jumper! Put on two! Layer on the socks! Nobody can see you. Promise.
You can borrow books, DVDs and CDs and more at your local library. And get a bit of peace and quiet while you’re there.
You’ll be exercising, getting out and doing your bit for the planet. If there was a dramatic, worldwide increase in cycling, it could cut CO2 emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11 per cent in 2050, according to Cycling UK.
The latest fashion? Boring. Step out in vintage clothes, and save yourself some serious wedge, too. Clothes can take up to 40 years to decompose, while shoes can take up to 1,000 years to break down. And while you’re buying vintage, think about recycling, donating or repairing your old clothes, too.
Clothes are inexpensive these days, leading to people buying far more than they need to. If you want to buy new, consider buying fewer items that are better made so they last longer, and choose natural materials when you can.
If we were to send one less ‘thank you’ email a day that would save more than 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year. True.
Palm oil is found in many everyday products but it is a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino, according to WWF.
Most cleaning products come in disposable bottles and some chemicals can be harmful to you as well as the environment, so switch to eco-friendly alternatives.
Next time you’re brushing your teeth or shaving, switching off the tap could save up to 200 gallons of water a month. Drip, drip, drip? No, no, no.
Instead use a compact, portable cutlery set.
By filling up the dishwasher completely each time, you’ll actually use less water than you would doing the dishes by hand, according to Friends of the Earth.
They are starting to be phased out, but if you’re offered one, do not use it. Many marine animals mistake these and other plastic items for food and plastic has been found in an estimated 90 per cent of all seabirds and in all sea turtle species, according to WWF.
Switch to biodegradable teabags. Or even better, loose tea. If you love a cuppa, think of how many teabags you go through – and bear in mind some teabags contain a very amount of plastic. That’s a cuppa conscience right there.
And ask them to champion climate change policies. The 2019 snap general election was the greenest ever in terms of political promises, but the momentum needs to continue.
Line-drying isn’t possible all year round but one dryer is thought to emit more than a tonne of carbon dioxide a year so switch to a clothes rack or washing line when you can.
If you use batteries regularly, invest in rechargeables.
Do they usually just head straight to the shredder? It’s time to go paperless.
It’ll reduce your plastic waste.
It is thought that each person in the UK uses 110 toilet rolls a year – and they usually are wrapped in plastic.
If you can afford it, invest in those solar panels you’ve been mulling over. It’s a green renewable energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants.
If working from home or using public transport is not an option for you, join a car share scheme to help combat congestion and cut CO2 emissions.
Be more mindful of what you are buying and throwing away. Buy less if you don’t need it, freeze food for later and compost what you don’t use.
As Friends of the Earth explain, you’ll save water, money and energy by only boiling as many cups of water as you need.
Cotton buds could damage your ears as well as wash up on our beaches and harm our sea life.
There could be up to 60 litres of water going straight down the drain every week.
If you want to take action, choose a charity or organisation and get in touch about volunteering.
If you want to take action, choose a charity or organisation and get in touch about volunteering.
Less packaging is better for the environment. Or go one better and start using a zero-waste supermarket.
If we all picked up litter when we see it, imagine the difference it would make.