The trouble with climate change is just how big it is. It’s huge, it’s massive, it’s scary, it’s nothing to do with me and it’s everything to do with me!
One thing that should be obvious about climate change (to even the delusional band of professional deniers) is that, even if all the 99.9% of scientists were wrong, all the proposed changes to our way of life are good anyway! So why not improve the quality of your life, save money and as an aside help to save the planet…
Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it?
But then you say I’ve got a perfectly good brain thank you, you’ll have to do better than that! Well, try this: most people will be aware of the central tenet of health and safety in the workplace: risk assessment. Two wonderful little words that all employers are legally obliged to undertake – somebody points out a risk and they must assess the likelihood and severity of that risk and act upon it.
So lets try this with climate change:
SEVERITY: devastation of the planet, millions dying, 90% of species die out etc.
LIKELYHOOD: 99.9% of bonafide experts say its very likely.
RISK ASSESSMENT: on balance, weighing up all the pros and cons….yeh maybe would should do something.
SHORT TERM ACTION (NOW): everyone does every reasonable thing to minimise their contribution to the problem.
MEDIUM TERM ACTION (VERY SOON): Governments and companies get their act together.
LONG TERM ACTION: (PRETTY SOON a) Buy Svalbaard and erect a 30 metre high, gun turreted wall around it or b) tell your grandchildren that story again of how you helped to save the world.
Because there is this, really quite good, idea of doing something NOW. And it’s called the 10:10 campaign. It’s not a tiptoe, it’s actually a step – big enough to be worthwhile but small enough to achieve – for anyone of us.
The two 10s stand for 2010 (the year) and 10% for the emissions cut you and I commit to making in 2010. It’s not just talking, its DOING and it feels so much better!
The campaign is the brain child of the director of the brilliant film ‘The Age of Stupid’, Franny Armstrong. Within weeks of launching the campaign it was gaining support from all quarters – from individuals to local authorities; corner shops to power companies; economists to celebrities; churches to mosques; schools to hospitals; even Tottenham Hotspur (where are you, Villa, Blues and Albion?); everyone immediately said this was the idea that Britain has been waiting for.
Go to the 1010 website to see the growing list of who’s signed up and, much more importantly, to sign yourself up!
I have adapted their 10 key suggestions to help you get started:
1. Swap plane for train, or ‘Staycate’. Now this is by far the easiest way to reach your target – holidaying in Britain or travelling by coach or train if going abroad. If you normally fly once a year on holiday, then simply not flying will for many represent a 10% reduction in your emissions at a stroke. Granted, this may not be an actual money-saver – pretty much all the other actions are!
2. Save 10% on heating
Turn down your thermostat, turn off radiators in hallways and wear more jumpers – it’s actually not so hard when you try it. Then, apply for a grant to insulate your loft & walls.
3. Save 10% on electricity
Replacing old fridges & freezers and always turning things off and unplug – even for short periods. Remember it‘s a myth that turning things on and off (unless it‘s literally every few seconds) will use more electricity. The 10:10 organisers are planning to provide the first 500,000 to sign up with free real-time energy monitors to help get a handle on electricity savings.
4. Drive less
Come on – you know you can! Nearly everyone will have another option of getting to work – even if it’s driving to the nearest station or a colleague’s house. Try leaving your car at home one day a week as many did in our very successful ‘In Town Without My Car day’.
5. Eat better and eat less meat
Local, in-season fruit and veg is best for just about every reason not just by producing the least emissions. The more food has been processed and added to, the greater the emissions. Why not start with one meat (and cheese) free day per week and why not take advantage of the Warehouse Café’s buy one get one free deal on most Mondays – I have and very good it was too! But if, like me, you like your meat why not just have less in total but more in quality by going for free-range, organic and local.
6. Buy less stuff and/or when you buy, buy good stuff
Less stuff made = less emissions = less climate damage. So buy high-quality things that last, repair broken stuff or buy & sell second-hand. Use the excellent Freecycle site (http://www.uk.freecycle.org) to see whether the thing you need is being given. Take a look at the stuff you already have – how much do you ever use? Think twice before upgrading unless it’s going to make a real difference – such as a high efficiency washing machine of fridge/freezer. And don’t buy disposables because they’re not – they’re just someone else’s problem.
7. Dump and Waste less
Avoid excess packaging and buying pointless stuff that goes straight in the bin, recycle everything possible and compost your food waste. Recycling everything you can helps avoid new items being produced which takes far more energy. Even greener than recycling, of course, is creating less rubbish in the first place. The smart thing to do with furniture, appliances or any other item that still works but is no longer wanted is to join the growing freecycling movement (see above). Food scraps that get sent to landfill can turn into methane – a powerful greenhouse gas. So make sure your scraps end up on in the compost bin. To learn more about the art of wasting nothing and using up everything go to the excellent: All-Consuming (http://www.dothegreenthing.com/content?a=all_consuming) website.
8. Especially don’t waste food!
The average British family throws away £50 worth of food every month. So don’t buy or cook more than you need and eat up those tasty leftovers. Stop over-buying food – so easily done especially with a large family, I know, and those horribly tempting two-for-one and three-for-two offers end up being no saving at all. Don’t be misled by Best Before, Sell By and Use By dates. Retailers are inevitably over cautious on these, as well as knowing that more waste means more sales and more profits for them! Trust your own judgement: sniff or lick it before you bin it!
9. Wasting water wastes energy too!
Your tap water uses lots of energy – and then heating it in your home uses loads more – so take showers rather than baths and only run full dishwashers & washing machines. All water is worth saving but it’s the hot water that matters the most. And toilets use up electricity (at the pumping station) as well as water that is usually drinkable – (don‘t try it just in case) Remember the motto: if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow!
10. Feel happier