While there may not be a political will to take climate change seriously, and I am talking as much here about Ireland as other countries, we as individuals can make a difference. You may think – “what can I do?” but you can do lots of simple, little things and if you encourage a friend to follow suit and they in turn encourage another friend, we soon have a movement of people.
So as a first step, find out about your own carbon footprint. There are some good online carbon footprint calculators. Check out WWF Calculator (UK), Carbon Footprint (can choose various countries including USA ), and Friends of the Earth (Ireland). Depending which one you use you will see where you can make improvements. I wanted to do a graph showing you the different countries but it seems every website I go to shows a different set of figures! So here are the figures from the Friends of the Earth site.
Here are some of my simple ideas for reducing your carbon footprint.
Food – think where is it coming from
Our food often comes from thousands of miles away. I am as guilty as anyone else with bananas and avocados in my fruit bowl. But that banana traveled over 5000 miles to get here! Perhaps I should just eat more homegrown apples. If you planted an apple tree in your garden. You could walk out, pick the apple of the tree, bring it into the house. So maybe twenty steps! In addition, the apple blossom in early spring is a great food source for pollinators.
It is not always possible to walk, cycle or take public transport, but can you combine car trips. So for example, do your shopping on the way home from work instead of making a special trip. Offer to pick the neighbour’s children up from school when you are picking up your own.
Of all the carbon issues this is probably one of the ones we in the western world have made most progress. The majority of people recycle and compost these days and that is great, but we must continue to improve. What I would like to see is more repair shops. So that when the fridge breaks we can get it fixed for the fraction of the cost it would be to buy a new one! Or instead of going out an buying a brand new item consider buying second hand.
Perhaps in the next post I could list some of your suggestions – why not include your favourite carbon busters in the comments below.