Top Things Individuals can do to make an Impact on their Climate Change Footprint

Sep 10, 2019 by

By Emily Roberts

The topic of climate change is extremely controversial in today’s world as the impacts of this are being seen at all different corners of the globe.  With the rise in the global temperature, we are seeing the ice in the polar regions melt at a great pace which then impacts the rising sea levels.  In addition to this, we are seeing far more extreme weather and events such as tornados and hurricanes. There are joint efforts in place from committed countries and political organisations such as the G7 play an important part in this where they set targets and look to influence change in not only the countries, they are accountable for, but others.

The habitat of not only humans is drastically affected by climate change but also animals.  There are a growing number of animals that are on the endangered species list as a direct result of climate change. This includes the polar bears in the arctic regions where their numbers have dropped by three quarters over the past 3 decades and are continuing to decline.

There are many different things that people can do to impact this and some of these are simple. Not everyone is engaged in these sorts of changes as potentially they could be more costly or even inconvenient. In addition to this, people are not always convinced that they, on an individual level, can make a change. We have taken note of some of the simple things that you could do.

Transportation

Carbon emissions are probably one of the biggest inputs to climate change and this is generally released via transportation methods.  The biggest release of carbon emissions is aero engines.  Although there have been some massive improvements in aero-engine efficiency, there is still a long way to go.  You will see some of the aero-engine companies such as GE and Rolls-Royce currently investing a lot of funds in this area and there have been advances on things such as electric engines in recent months.  Governments are also playing a big part in this as they tax airlines significantly based on pollution.  On an individual level, there are things people can do.  This can include reflecting on whether you need to commute by plane. For example, if you are travelling domestically over a short distance, there may be other eco-friendlier ways to get from A to B reducing your personal impact on the environment.  In addition to this, if you are travelling by plane, have a look exactly at the aircraft types and engines that you will be flying with.  If the airline is modern and focussed on environmental impacts, you will see the latest engines installed with the least carbon emissions.  Lesser credible airlines may use older aircrafts and engines which could be releasing additional, unnecessary pollution.  You can get all the appropriate information online in terms of what aircraft, engines and emissions the airline will use for your flight.

Car pollution is also a big contributor to climate change and this industry has been criticised a lot recently on their lack of changes to vehicles in order to reduce the footprint.  Some countries are taking some firm actions where they are increasing the pressure to use electric motor vehicles.  We are beginning to see electric charging stations appear in work and public places as the demand increases. When people are purchasing a vehicle, they should consider the emissions that are produced and make an informed decision on this.  In addition to this, when a household has a motor vehicle it does not mean that it needs to be used for every journey.  Some workplaces are adopting Cycle to Work schemes and some towns and cities are making their areas far more cycle-friendly on the roads.

Household Energy

Using energy in the home also adds to your climate footprint and there are a lot of simple things that homeowners can do on this front.  This can include looking at solar panel installation where you will find lots of solar panel companies in Ontario as an example who are leading the way.  They will look to complete the full project for you, and you can see what the initial installation cost is but also what the monthly savings will be on your energy bills.  Generally, most people will find that the savings are significant and the solar panel costs in Ontario are also competitive. Once these are installed, you are then not relying fully on other energy means and the solar panels that are installed on your household roof will help power the majority of your home.  It is also a myth that these can only be installed in places that are sunny all year round.  The solar panels will absorb light from normal daytime rays making it applicable in most places.  You can find out more information about these at https://sempersolaris.com/.

Other things that can be done in the household in order to minimise the use of heating is to ensure that the home has all the draught points covered.  This could include an initial investment on things like double glazed windows (if they are not already installed).  Again, the companies that install these sorts of equipment can give you an indication of what the anticipated savings would be and potential energy bill savings.

Recycling

Sometimes recycling can be seen as a bit of a chore, however, this is something that has a positive effect on the journey to reduce climate change impacts.  We will all have seen pictures on the internet or news where there is so much waste dumped in our seas.  This has a serious consequence on the marine life.  Countries are already looking at what they can do to try and incentivise and improve on recycling. Something that has kicked off in the past few years in many countries is the use of plastic straws.  As these are particularly difficult to recycle and as a result, the industry has responded by some places banning them.  This includes big outfits like McDonalds.  They have then replaced these with paper straws.  This has had a mixed reaction by consumers as the paper straws are clearly far easier to recycle, however, they are not effective if the straw is in liquid for a long period of time. For example, if the straw is in the liquid for more than half an hour, it will start to become soggy and not be as effective as the plastic alternative.  Do not let this put you off as if you are using a paper straw and it does get soggy, it is far more environmentally friendly to replace the paper straw with another one than move back to the plastic alternative.

In the household, there is lots of waste that can be segregated and recycled.  This is not particularly popular with a lot of people as the segregation can be time consuming and sometimes even confusing.  Local authorities have gone a long way to try and educate people about these and make some fundamental changes to how they educate people and give them the means to do this.  You will see some different coloured trash can appear that indicate different waste types.  There are colour codes for all types of things which includes plastics, garden waste, paper and general trash.  There are more than enough recycling centres dotted around the country and these are all free to dispose of household waste.  You should go one step further and think about the workplace.  A lot of businesses have implemented these sorts of recycling trash cans and encourage users to use them correctly.  If these are not in place in your workplace then why not try to champion such a project?

Plants/Trees

One of the massive inputs to our air quality is the gasses released by trees and plants. The Amazon rainforest has a massive part to play in this and this is why there are massive protests on the go on a continuous basis as to why this rainforest is continuing to reduce significantly in size as the country tries to increase its land mass to support the local populations.  There are simple things that people can do to try and offset this, and this can include planting plants or trees in their gardens.  Every one of these helps.  Not only that – they will make your garden look a lot prettier and encourage some wildlife. If you are looking to plant some large trees (if space permits) just think about the effect of this on your neighbours.  This can sometimes cause contention if you are planting these and they block out sunlight as an example into their gardens.  Best to have a chat with them first to let them know your intentions.

You could also look to support the local parks and community by engaging them in tree planting projects.  There may not be a lot of this going on and you could help by sparking the interest in this with the local community – maybe even set up some social media pages to help engage the conversations and interest.

Consume Less

In developed countries, it is easy for people to purchase things for the sake of it when there may not even be a real need.  If you think of how easy it is nowadays for people to purchase things on sites like Amazon, you can click a button on an app and purchase instantly and then the item will appear the next day at your home or designated address.  The number of things that are then wasted is unbelievable.  The same can be said about food.  It is easy for people to go to their local supermarket and walk out with a full trolley of groceries but how much of this gets used? Supermarkets are very clever to try and entice people to purchase lots of items through bargains and But One Get One Free offers but some of this will then become an impulse buy for people.  If too much is then purchased, the food will then go by its expiry date and can not be consumed and adds to waste.  No-one is saying that you shouldn’t buy items or food, by you should be conscious of the fact on whether there is a need for it or if too much is being purchased with the potential of it being wasted.

Get Politically Active

There are lots of different political parties out there that are trying to make a difference in terms of how we are treating our planet.  The biggest name around this is the Green Party and activists.  Joining these people and their events to try and spread the word can be influential and effective.  Even out with these political parties you should try and help influence your local senator or political figurehead in order to ensure that they are championing more green policies.  People are taking more of an interest in green energy, transportation etc and by making this high on the agenda of these people, it can not only help make policy changes but should help them get more popular votes from the public.

It is important that you also use our right to vote and if you are not legible to vote, understand why and see if there is anything that can be done to change this.  The more people in the country that use their vote to get the voice heard, the more chance the bigger parties and people are also going to start taking an interest and potentially change their policies to try and replicate some from the greener parties.  At voting stations, you may even choose to help canvass for your party and secure them more votes and have their voice heard.

Make sure to make some of these changes in your life if you want to be able to reduce your carbon footprint.

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