I know, I know – you’ve heard it all before: our planet needs saving. But it’s time we were realistic – taking ‘bags for life’ on the weekly shop and using tin foil instead of cling film is a start, but it’s simply not enough anymore.
The Welsh Government declared a Climate Emergency a year ago and activism has gripped much of our youth, but I don’t see many people’s habits changing. It’s time we brushed off the apathy and took responsibility for our environment damaging actions and act.
So here it is. An idiot’s guide to going green. (Please don’t be affronted by the idiot label – that’s for me.) If you fancy joining in the green revolution, then read on…
This regular blog aims to provide you with hints and tips on how small personal, social and behavioural changes can help. Each feature will concentrate on how to make you and your family’s lives greener and healthier to our environment. It’s meant to empower and inspire, not dispirit or overwhelm. With thought and proactivity then maybe a small part of your community can help make this world a cleaner, safer, balanced place.
Part 1 – Travel
Change your travel habits
Living in a nice suburb with two kids and two cars I am classed as one of the 10% of the world’s domestic population who causes most pollution. I drive, I fly (a bit) and I eat meat – three of the worst contributors to climate change. So, as people that like to travel (and often need to travel) what options are there for reducing our carbon emissions?
Doing less driving is an easy way we can help to have a less polluting impact on the environment. This doesn’t mean we all sell our cars – it just means that we choose alternative travel options. For example, catch the bus to work or the train into town rather than add to the congestion on the roads. I know public transport has its own environmental flaws, but if more people use public transport there are less cars on the roads, which is progress.
It’s not just work car shares that could make a difference. If you drive your kids to school, how about arranging a lift share rota with a friend for takes and pick-ups. Or just make arrangements with friends to pick each other’s children up. One less car on the road is a bonus.
This is the greenest option. Not only will you be helping reduce climate change, it will also make you fit. By cycling just once a week, rather than driving, you can start to help reduce carbon emissions. There are many cycle routes growing in and around Cardiff to make this form of travel safer and more time efficient. Ask at work to see if there are any cycle schemes that reimburse you the costs of bikes and equipment, or just make use of the nextbike scheme and ride one of those home, rather than grab a taxi.
Less air travel
Reducing the amount of times you fly may be a difficult ask for some – but it’s not impossible. Research suggests that if families were to limit flying abroad to short haul once every 2 years then the carbon emissions would significantly reduce. There are other options to consider: catch a ferry to Scandinavia; inter-railing across Europe or simply see more of the UK and leave the flying until next year.
Turning into one car families
This is a big ask. There is no doubt that our hectic lifestyles suit a car each. Especially me. With two sporty kids, a job 1.5 miles away and yoga classes 3 times a week, I rely on my run around. But maybe this is the first big step I need to take, to bite the green bullet and to become less of a polluter. There are benefits: it will save money as there is no insurance, car tax, mot etc; you can spend more time as family; walk and exercise more and inevitably become more organised.
Buy an electric car
There is an alternative to the one car family predicament: invest in an electric car. Electric cars produce zero exhaust emissions, which means that they do not emit pollutants or greenhouse gases which damage air quality. However, the only way to fully appreciate the environmental benefits of an electric car is to use renewable energy to sustain it. This might mean looking into energy providers for the home, such as Bulb and Ecotricity, as well as having words with your employers.
Simply walk more
My favourite. Unrealistic for long distances – I know, but that trip to the corner shop or pick up from school does not always need to be taken by car. All that’s needed is a bit of extra time and comfy shoes – both of which I don’t have but my next step is to invest in both.