Small changes, big impact!
Words & images: Nathan Hamer
I am writing this article around six weeks after I attended the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protest down in London. It is also the day after our government have declared an environment and climate emergency. But what does that mean for us?
The UK are the first country in the world to formally declare the climate epidemic we are facing as an emergency – So we get bragging rights with that! It means that we would stop burning fossil fuels and stop investment in overseas projects that do so. Which to me is a no brainer, being as though there are already alternatives out there. Much cooler ones as well. For example, ‘hydro-dams’ and ‘solar farms’ sound way more exciting than ‘power stations’, they also don’t destroy our eco-system! We could see an acceleration in the transition from petrol and diesel cars to electric. Again, a no brainer, especially when you see the new Audi e-Tron! Lastly for the UK to become carbon neutral by 2050 (an update to 2030 is currently being pushed). Being carbon neutral doesn’t mean we don’t emit any pollution, just that we offset it by using more renewable energy, planting more trees and recycling more. At this point in time these are the only things I can see the government have stated, but hopefully when this is published, we’ll all have a clear idea of the direction we’ll be heading over the next ten years.
Ten years is a long way away though, so what can you be doing in the meantime? Here’s my ten top tips on how you and your family can become more environmentally friendly.
Hypothetically speaking that’s one a year, something I’m sure you’re capable of!
Walk more – Well not just walk, cycle, skateboard, rollerblade, use public transport, anything that reduces the amount of time you spend in your car. Which not only lowers pollution levels but improves your health and wellbeing.
Borrow things – One of the most effective ways you can reduce waste is to stop buying things you don’t really need. For instance, I’m sure we’ve all bought a new drill or lawnmower we’re only going to use a handful of times a year. What we could do instead is nip next door and ask your neighbour. It’s reducing your waste and getting you into conversation with your neighbour. As a community focused magazine, something that we’re never going to miss an opportunity to promote.
Invest in reusables and ‘dispose with disposables’ – Now I don’t mean to go on a rant about ‘The good old days’ here; mainly because I wasn’t born until 2000. However previous generations didn’t dream of using single-use razors, knives, forks, cups, bags, food packaging, just to name a few of the many things we use for five minutes and throw away to decompose over the next 50 years. So why are they so prominent in our lives’? Switching to reusable or recyclable alternatives wherever possible will have a huge impact on the amount of toxins you are putting out there.
Properly recycle – To be honest as a teenager I haven’t got a clue how to properly recycle, but I’m faithful my Grandma does a good job (so big shout out to Neen). If like me you’re unsure then visit Chesterfield borough council’s website or ask a neighbour.
Conserve energy and water – Although I’m not sure on how to properly recycle, surprisingly I have a few tips for this one! Albeit simple stuff like not leaving the tap running whilst you brush your teeth and turning the lights of when you’re not in the room. Like my grandad used to say, “We don’t live in a lighthouse”. The famous “Were you born in a barn?” saying also comes into play, as making sure your house is properly insulated can save you masses of energy and money. One of the best things you can do is to ring your energy provider to schedule an ‘energy audit’ to see where your power is being wasted. Most companies will do this for free or very cheaply.
Support local businesses – Just like promoting talking to your neighbour and increasing community spirit, we never miss a chance to encourage you to support your local businesses! If you do this wherever possible you are hugely decreasing the miles your products have travelled. For instance, most of our meals have travelled 1500 miles before they end up on our plates. So instead nip into town and see Ibbertsons for your fruit and veg or go down to the northern tea merchants in Brampton rather than buying PG tips.
Eat a vegetarian meal where possible – “the enemy of ignorance is experience”; a great quote for any topic. This time it applies to how nice veggie meals are! Up until a few weeks back 90% of my meals consisted of some form of meat. But after learning that a piece of lamb on your plate is part of a process that emits as much carbon as 91 miles in a car, (sounds crazy I know!) I decided to do my best to be vegetarian for five days a week, and only eat meat on weekends. And it’s going well, Either scrambled egg on toast or granola and yogurt with some fruit for breakfast. Then a cheese or some other veggi sandwich or wrap for lunch. And a veggi lasagne or Quorn mince pie for tea. Just to name a few examples. Through doing this I’ve also managed to shed a few pounds in time for Zante this Summer as well, bonus!
Educate the people around you - Whether it’s getting your loved ones to have a read of this, relaying the message, or telling them what you already know; the only way we can progress as a society is to be both students and teachers. So be open to new ideas and never miss an opportunity to educate another – Nathan’s life tip #109!
Think Twice before shopping (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) – Similar to borrowing stuff, make the most of what you’ve already got, it will lead you to save money and throw away less. And when you do have to throw it away, take the extra 10 seconds to put it in the right bin. You won’t get a medal, but it all adds up.
Choose environmentally conscious companies – I know that if I get a takeout from The Society of Coffee Shop and Bar that the cup and lid is biodegradable! If I order a takeaway from Hakasan, I know it will come in a container that is NOT made of plastic.
Ghandi said “be the change you want to see in the world” and he was a pretty wise, dude!