Little choices we make every day can make a big difference for the planet. Here our members share what they do, tips and ideas for reducing waste, lowering carbon footprint and staying informed about environmental issues. Have your own ideas for helping the planet? We’d love to hear about them in the comments and/or Instagram Challenge.
Here are some things my husband and I do on a daily basis to protect the environment:
We are always looking for ways to do more.
I try to help the environment by making incremental changes to increase meatless days, compost more, drive less and use more public transport.
A new idea is to buy carbon offset for flights back to the US, which are necessary with our two children working on the West Coast.
Helping the environment starts with being aware of the facts, so I start with self-education. The government sponsors fantastic environmental research and information on several websites, including www.eia.gov, www.epa.gov and www.climate.nasa.gov.
Like many others, my family tries to conserve energy, minimise waste and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. We have a green power supply arrangement and try to use public transport. More recently, we’ve reduced our beef intake, as the cattle industry is a large source of avoidable greenhouse gas emissions.
At work, I look at potential investments in the utility and power sector, which account for 25% of man-made greenhouse gases. Climate change policy and improving wind and solar technology are reducing the carbon intensity of power generation; this is great, although much more needs to be done to keep global temperatures in check. I try to nudge the world toward greater sustainability by investing in renewable energy companies, green bonds and recycling firms. My colleagues and I are also preparing to launch a low carbon fund later this year, in addition to a sustainable fund already in place.
I try to carry these items in almost every bag I use when I go out. The first is a Vote From Abroad card to give to any overseas Americans I encounter, because making sure we all vote and elect candidates who care about the environment is the most important way we can make a difference.
Then there is a water bottle, a collapsible coffee/tea cup, a ’spork,’ a bamboo straw and a reusable carrier bag. These items have drastically cut down on my use of single-use plastics. We don’t ever need to buy bottled water in this country, and this is such an easy way to avoid it! We also don’t ever have to use the plastic cutlery at Pret, cups with plastic lids at Starbucks, plastic bags for a shop, or plastic straws either. Every time I use one of these, there is one less item of plastic that, realistically, will not be recycled, but will be destined for landfill, the oceans, a whale’s stomach, a turtle’s nose, and our plates.
My attempts to be less environmentally damaging are hardly radical – I always have a reusable water bottle and a canvas tote bag with me to cut down on basic daily plastic use. I also have a rule that if I don’t have a reusable version with me, particularly a reusable coffee cup, then I’m not allowed to get a takeaway coffee or a bottle of water (most coffee places will give you tap water in a glass if you ask!).
I’m also pretty much vegetarian and am a huge advocate of cutting down on your meat intake even if you feel like adopting the label “vegetarian” or “vegan” is too much of a commitment.
Fear of failure can stop us making any changes at all; even being mostly veggie makes a difference – my boyfriend has meat on “high days and holidays” which works for him! I do think however, that when we have these conversations it is really important to be sceptical of the impact that individual choices (which are often still fairly consumerist) can have. In light of the fact that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of fossil fuel emissions*, an “every little helps” approach might not be the one we need to be taking…
I live with my boyfriend and we also share the flat with his friend. The amount of drink cans, disposable take outs, pizza boxes, magazines and other products pile up so quickly that I sent them the link to our local council recycle page, to give them knowledge of what we could recycle and not. I use a Sainsbury’s bag and in it use plastic bags where I’ve asked them to please put anything that can be recycled.
I’m lucky to live with them as they quickly took on the task and follow my recycling regime.
I also carry my own cloth bag (and given them one that balls up) for groceries.
I work at Guerlain, a company that embraces sustainability in its products and working standards. We are always working towards integrating suppliers who focus on sustainability as well and also in the office towards saving more paper and using less plastic, to name a few.