I’m sure you’ve heard it all; ice sheets collapsing, species dying out, more droughts, floods, wildfires, storms. But animals and the environment aren’t the only things being affected; we will, we are being affected too.

Though less visible to the first world, millions of people are on the front line, facing rising sea levels, intense flooding, superstorms, and wildfires. In the past few years, there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of these so-called “natural” disasters, such as the recent record-breaking Californian fires, proving that we are no longer safe.

But governments aren’t doing enough. In fact, they’re barely doing anything. Climate change could be irreversible by 2030, setting off dozens of tipping points. Just going about and living our lives is not an option anymore. We have to do something. We have to take it into our own hands.

The good news? It’s super easy. So, where to start?

Reusable Products

Let’s begin with reusable products. Plastic is arguably the worst pollutant we produce, continually damaging the soil and the oceans for hundreds of years. Therefore, the best thing we can do is turn to reusables. They’re much better for the environment, cost-effective, last a long time if you look after them, and contain safer materials.

There are so many great new inventions out there too: reusable cutlery and bottles, beeswax wraps, bamboo hairbrushes and toothbrushes, metal and silicone straws, or even the newest straw – pasta straws! And the list goes on. The fact is, it’s so easy to find new products that will help reduce your impact on the environment and, in the long term, it's less expensive than using the single-use alternatives. Many high street shops sell reusables, however, during the current COVID situation you might not be able to go out to the shops. If that is the case, I would advise visiting online stores such as Amazon, Lush, The Plastic Free Shop, Boobalou and Onya.

Meat and Dairy

One thing people often turn a blind eye towards is the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. I’ll admit, I was the same. But once I finally listened to how much the meat and dairy industry affects our planet, I decided I just had to go vegan; and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

So, what’s so bad about the industry?

A study found that 51% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are derived from livestock – from the production of the food they consume to the gases from their waste, livestock and our mass breeding of them continues to have a humongous impact on the planet. Another study found that livestock covers 45% of the Earth’s total land. 45%. And because of how much land we require for these animals, animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.

Consider these statistics and just imagine how much of an impact you could make go vegetarian, vegan, even just “flexitarian”. Well actually, I can tell you right now.

By going vegan for only one day, you would save 1,100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of land, 20lbs of C02, and one animal's life.

But how to start? I’d suggest phasing into whichever diet you choose, rather than going “cold-turkey” – excuse the poor choice of phrasing. Experimenting with recipes and slowly incorporating common aspects of a vegan diet into your food is a great way to start. I’d also suggest educating yourself further for motivation.

This Is Local London: A vegan banana bread I baked during quarantineA vegan banana bread I baked during quarantine

Transport

The transportation industry is a major consumer of energy, burns most of the world’s petroleum, creates huge amounts of air pollution. Therefore, it is vital that we find ways to reduce the impact of our travels.

Use of public transport dramatically decreases CO2 emissions, conserves habitats and more. Transport for London (TFL) is invested in reducing their impact on the environment. They’re looking into energy-efficient and renewable technology and systems, improving their resource use and waste management, finding ways to help conserve wildlife and habitats, and reducing their pollution. Living in and around London, I would definitely suggest looking into using trains instead of travelling by car – it might even be faster and cheaper!

Cycling and walking are also amazing, if not better, options. If your destination is less than 2 miles, consider travelling by bike or on foot. It might take longer and be a bit more effort, but, over a period of time, it has massive environmental benefits and is great for your health.

Waste

The UK produces 31 million tonnes of waste a year. 31 million tonnes of food, plastic, fabric and more. These all end up in landfills, which have devastating impacts on the environment. When the waste rots and decomposes, it produces harmful gases, mostly methane and carbon dioxide, which are both greenhouse gases and thus detrimental in contributing towards global warming. Similarly, waste has a major effect on the soil and water sources surrounding the landfills.

What can you do? Reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce the amount you consume, spanning from food to items you buy on the highstreets. Reuse and take care of the items you already have, like up-doing old clothes and using plastic bottles as plant pots. Finally, recycle any items you have bought but cannot reuse. Recycling is great but should be your last resort, as only 45% of plastics are actually recycled in the UK and only 9% in the world. Make sure you wash any plastics you recycle too. You can also recycle paper, aluminium, and more.

Make sure to visit your local recycling and waste website to find out what bins you should have and how to use them.

Use Your Voice, Sign Petitions, Donate, and Vote

Finally, remember to use your voice! Support your local environment groups. Post and repost on social media. Donate to charities such as WWF. Do what you can to spread the word about how people can protect our planet.

This Is Local London:

References:

https://www.naturespath.com/en-us/blog/nine-things-you-can-do-to-save-the-environment/

https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/news/news-archive/2017/six-scary-facts-about-climate-change

https://www.earthday.org/5-terrifying-climate-change-facts-scare-halloween/

https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2915/the-atmosphere-getting-a-handle-on-carbon-dioxide/#:~:text=The%20concentration%20of%20carbon%20dioxide,it%20was%20near%20370%20ppm.

https://naturecode.org/reusable-items/#:~:text=Reusing%20isn't%20just%20about,consistently%20mitigate%20your%20carbon%20footprint.

https://www.cowspiracy.com/facts

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/lu-environment-strategy.pdf

https://lmacademics.com/wp-content/uploads/Vivian-Li.pdf