Want to reduce your impact, but don’t have time to research everything you buy and everything you do?
So focus on the things that will make the most difference.
Eat as little meat as you can, and minimise food waste.
The crimes of the meat industry are too long to list here, but the reason it’s so destructive is because it involves the lot: huge greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water use and pollution. A UN report described the overall environmental impact of livestock activity as ‘enormous,’ and that’s before we even get on to animal welfare issues, the health impacts of eating meat, antibiotic resistance, or the small problem of how we’re going to feed everyone if we continue to consume meat as much as we do. Meat production is so inefficient, it takes more calories to produce than it adds to the food system.
As for food waste, remember that whenever we throw food away, we waste all the water and greenhouse gas emissions that went in to producing it. So, for the UK (where 25% of all food bought by households is wasted) that amounts to 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year. So, do the planet a favour and don’t buy more food than you can eat.
What you can’t do: save the planet by worrying about the source of everything you buy.
Minimise the amount of new stuff you buy, especially fashion, electronic gadgets, tat, or anything you don’t expect to use that much. Remember that most of the environmental impact of the stuff we buy happens before it reaches the store, and anything meant to be used for a short time then thrown away, is a crap design.
What you can’t do: heal the world by doing the recycling alone.
Use a clean energy supplier for your home, and get real about flying and driving.
No-one needs to use a dirty energy supplier. While many people have difficulty getting by without a car, or giving up meat, changing your energy supplier makes no difference to your lifestyle whatsoever and could even save you money. So what are you waiting for? And if you’ve done that, make sure your money is not invested in fossil fuels.
And yes, it’s magical thinking to imagine we can heal the planet without reducing the distances we travel by carbon-powered transport. Deep down we all know this.
What you can’t do: halt global warming by switching off all the lights and ensuring you don’t overcharge your phone.