Today is Blog Action Day, the theme this year is Climate Change, influenced no doubt by the upcoming Copenhagen summit. These days it is hard to go through an entire day without finding a reference to Climate Change or Energy Saving, the Energy Saving Trust even has an annoying advert on the television. I am not sure how much all of the reminders and the small snippets that appear on the news will make a difference. I think there are two major problems; firstly people get bored with hearing about how we are all doomed, there is often the feeling that there are enough things to think about in life as it is, why worry about climate change when there is nothing we can do about it anyway? It is everyone else that is causing the problem, besides, the worst will happen elsewhere in the world, and probably not in my lifetime.
Then we come to the second problem: what can you do about it that will make a difference? There is so much information out there, some of it conflicting, that it can be difficult to know where to start and who to believe, no matter which level you are at in terms of ‘green-ness’ it can be confusing. It is probably easier to not bother yet, better wait until more information is out there, until the ‘experts’ make their minds up.
The problem is, time is ticking and we all have a responsibility, why waste resources when it is just as easy not to, why waste money just because it is too much effort to turn a light out when leaving a room? If you can make the changes at home then take these good and virtuous habits to work – your example can make a difference, I have seen it happen.
So what practical changes can you make? How long have you got? Everything you use, whether it is energy, water, fuel, food, resources such as paper, they are all, to some extent, finite, we can’t replace them all at the same rate that we are using them, and the planet cannot absorb all of our activities as they currently stand.
Firstly, energy. Turn lights off, don’t leave things on standby, only leave your mobile etc plugged in for as long as it takes to charge (you’d be amazed at how many people leave them in overnight – they don’t stop drawing power because the battery is fully charged), turn your computer and monitor off when you leave work. One of the best things you can do is to buy an energy monitor – they will help you find where energy is being wasted. Want to think bigger – try switching energy supplier to one that uses renewables – they may not be the complete answer to our problem at the moment, but the more that is invested the bigger the improvements that will be made in the technology.
Water – old fact, but, 9 litres of water for every flush if you don’t have a dual flush toilet, put a bottle of water in the cistern to reduce the level down, save water and money at the same time. Fit a water butt to your drainpipe to use for garden watering – they may look a bit unsightly, but, lets face it, so do satellite dishes, but most of us find somewhere to put one. Don’t leave a sprinkler on your garden for hours – grass is hardy stuff, that’s why it is used for lawns, it doesn’t need constant watering and nobody else notices how green your lawn is!
Fuel – School run- why are there so many people dropping their children off? Can’t they walk, I worry more about people being run over by someone on the school run than about other dangers facing children today. How about just walking to work once a week for a change. I would suggest public transport, but in Daventry, unless you are willing to set off 24 hours in advance it is a little pointless. Planes – I love planes, I think they are a fantastic feat of engineering – but they are used too much and deliver their pollution to just the wrong place. I can’t go on one again, maybe you can, but just one return transatlantic trip would double our household carbon footprint for the year (in terms of gas, electricity and transport) – I don’t think it is worth it.
Food – one of my major worries. Why buy food only to throw it away? There is a lot of talk in the press about food security and can Britain feed itself. We probably can’t, we probably shouldn’t, our national income increased when we started trading with the world; there are some things that can be done better elsewhere. But there are things we are good at growing, and, if we stopped throwing so much away we could grow all the staples that we need. After all, the Romans didn’t invade us all those years ago because they were fed up of living somewhere dry and sunny!
Resources – whether it is paper in the office, packaging on our food, why is there so much that we are throwing away? Admittedly the levels of recycling have grown massively, and Daventry District Council should be applauded for its household recycling (although, if you are a business, tough, you have to sort that out yourself), but wouldn’t it be better to just use less. Does your broccoli really need a bag to make sure it gets home safely, does your Easter Egg need so much cardboard and plastic that your child could live in it? I don’t think so.
So, what has this to do with Baby Steps? If we all make a small change, one step at a time it will make a difference. Then, if we make the next step, and the next step who knows what kind of change we can make? There are so many resources out there if you need help. If, as recently reported, the onset of power shortages has been put back by 3 -5 years because of the recession, an unintentional change in our habits, what can we do if we really try?