From cutting down on red meat to hopping on your bike more often, we list just some of the ways you can help tackle climate change.
1: Eat fewer granola bars
Individually packaged foods contribute up to a third of total energy inputs for food consumption, as each ingredient – oats, berries, sugar etc. – is shipped from countries across the world, processed, packaged and sold in various shops up and down the country. By reaching for a locally-grown apple or making your own healthy snacks from fresh ingredients, you’ll be looking after the environment as well as your health.
2: Start training for the next Tour de France
We all know that ditching the car for our commute would help reduce emissions – on average it would save half a tonne of carbon dioxide per person every year – but did you know about the wider health benefits? Cycling, especially for short journeys, is a great way to protect the planet and get fit at the same time, and it could even help the NHS too. It is estimated that if one in 10 journeys in the UK were made by bike the NHS would save £250m a year – enough to buy 126 new radiotherapy machines.
3: Turn your investments green
Keep a close eye on your finances and make sure you’re not investing in companies that are damaging the environment. By divesting from fossil fuels and other destructive industries in your personal banking, pension plans and bonds, you’ll be joining a growing protest against companies that are harmful to our environment. You can find out more about the fossil fuel divestment movement at www.gofossilfree.org.
4: Use a laptop, not a desktop
Laptops, unlike desktop computers, are designed to save energy due to their extended battery life. According to Energy Star, a US initiative that helps businesses improve the efficiency of their products, a laptop can be up to 80 per cent more energyefficient than your average desktop computer. If you must buy a desktop, spend a bit more and get an LCD screen and check if it has a power management function to ensure you’re not wasting energy.
5: Avoid hamburgers
Cows produce almost 20 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases – more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together. According to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the effect of methane (emitted from bovine back-ends around the world) on the climate is 23 times higher than the effect of carbon dioxide. Not only that, but livestock uses 30 per cent of the world’s land surface, is a major driver of deforestation and uses 11 times more water in processing than pork or chicken. Cutting out hamburgers, choosing chicken or going all the way to veganism would have a significant impact on tackling climate change.
6: Stop moaning!
Celebrate that extra 5p for a plastic bag, rejoice in the Congestion Charge and applaud the aeroplane levies – it means that we’re living in a society that is taking daily action to combat climate change. It also signals to policy-makers that we’re willing to take on short-term costs for everyone’s long-term gain. So rather than complaining about the extra hassle, why not embrace the opportunity to go green and encourage your friends, family members and colleagues to join in with these small steps in protecting our environment.
7: Downsize your dog
Small dogs have smaller appetites and more modest needs, and therefore a much smaller carbon footprint (or pawprint) than larger dogs. According to the World Watch Institute, a large dog uses 0.36 global hectares of resources annually, while a small dog only uses 0.18. This means that two German Shepherd dogs use more resources each year than the average person in Bangladesh (who uses 0.6 hectares). A dog may be a man’s best friend, but he could also be our planet’s worst enemy.
8: Plant some roots
We all know that trees play a vital role in climate change. The world’s forests absorb and store carbon dioxide that otherwise would contribute to an increase in global temperatures. In the UK alone our woodlands contain around 150 million tonnes of carbon in biomass and 640 million tonnes in the soil. The UN’s Billion Tree Campaign has planted over 12 billion trees since its inception in 2006 – have you planted yours? Our UNA Eastbourne branch are doing their bit – they plant two trees for every new member they recruit.
9: Microwave your tea
You might only use the microwave for soup or porridge, but in fact, microwaving your food is faster and consumes much less energy than traditional means. If a meal takes 15 minutes to cook in the microwave versus one hour in the oven, you’ll knock 15p off your energy bill each time. If microwaveable meals don’t sound appealing, try boiling water in the microwave to make your daily cups of tea.
10: Pass New World on to a friend
New World is printed using vegetable-based inks on chlorineand acid-free paper that is 100 per cent recycled. By passing it on to your friends, family and colleagues, not only will you be spreading the word about the work and values of the United Nations, but you’ll be helping to save our planet too.
The UN has launched a new website to help you calculate your carbon footprint and offset it by donating to certified sustainable projects. To find out more go to www.climateneutralnow.org