Climate Change: Making a Difference

Be a Part of the Solution, not the Problem

Flicking through the news channels is enough to strike fear into the hearts of the best of us, at the best of times, which is why, as a general rule these days, I try my best to avoid them. What with Brexit, Coronavirus and usually at least one country at war with another country or even its own people, it’s enough to depress us all, or worse still, we become indifferent and immune to the suffering all around us.

Another reason I’m a news-avoider these days though is that I just don’t think that they concentrate on the things that truly will affect us all one day. Things like climate change for instance.

Whenever there are floods like there are in parts of the UK right now with it having been the wettest February since records began, yes the media reports on it. Same with the horrific bush fires in Australia these last few months or with the glaciers in the Arctic melting more and more each year. But these events are reported on as if they were isolated incidents with no connection to one another. Madness.

Towards the back end of 2019, activist group, Extinction Rebellion, made headlines with some fairly extreme levels of protesting. That too made the news. Just in this last week, following the Court of Appeal’s decision to block proposals for a third runway at Heathrow, this too made the news – briefly.

I don’t mean to downplay the importance on a day-to-day level that issues such as Brexit, Coronavirus or the like have on individuals and businesses that of course should be reported on. But I can’t help thinking that, in the grand scheme of things, compared with the issue of climate change that is already affecting some of us and that eventually will affect us all, the media is either being exceptionally short-sighted at best and downright deceptive at worst.

Climate change is not something that happened overnight. Nor is it something that we will fix overnight. I don’t say that to scare people unnecessarily. I’m a realist and I believe that eventually we will all be affected by this issue; it’s just a matter of time.

What I would like to see and hear more about in the news more often is about what is happening to reverse climate change, what is working, what isn’t and what the ordinary person like you and me can do to help the cause to avoid these extremes of weather or certainly the frequency of these extremes, because otherwise, not to scaremonger, but how is it going to improve?

Some will say that it is already too late and they may well be right. Personally, I am encouraged every day by what I do see others doing and they inspire me to also try to “do my bit”. What I’m finding on my journey to zero-waste living is that it is as much about lifestyle choices and awareness as it is about the big fundraising activities and protests.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start – here’s what I did/do:

  • Buying bamboo straws and making sure I take them with me when I’m out and about just in case;
  • Investing in a good quality water bottle (or coffee cup for those that like a brew on the go!) and taking it everywhere I go;
  • Taking a tote bag everywhere I go to put in all my recyclable stuff, straws, water bottles, coffee cups!
  • Switching off lights and unplugging chargers not being used;
  • Cutting down on car journeys and working from home as much as possible;
  • Thinking before buying goods – do I really need that or could I upcycle something;
  • Thinking about where my goods came from, were they ethically sourced and if not do I want to support that business or organisation just to save a few pennies;
  • Meat-free days each week that the whole family have taken up, even my husband who I never thought would be up for it!
  • Bugging your MP (so easy to do – sign up to emails from Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, etc and they email you a link periodically that takes about 2 minutes if that to send an email/letter to your local Member of Parliament);
  • Share details of climate change and ways you can help with others on social media;
  • Educating yourself by signing up to climate change groups like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF, etc;
  • See if you could switch to an energy provider that provides renewable energy – we recently did this with EON and saved money!
  • Up your recycling skills – most of us are probably pretty good at separating our general waste into paper and cardboard, food waste and tins/glass but what about the less well known but still fairly frequent rubbish items such as batteries – would you know how to dispose of these in an eco-friendly manner? Could you start a collection pile for things like this that you could drop off at your local recycling centre next time you’re passing?
  • Reduce chemical cleaning products in your home and challenge yourself to find the most eco-friendly yet still affordable and effective household cleaning products on the market. The choice out there is impressive and, as consumers, we hold a lot of power!
  • Learn to cook in an eco-friendly (and cost-effective) way. Turn the oven off shortly before the food is cooked as the oven is still warm and finishes off the cooking as a result; use pan lids to conserve heat and make use of your microwave;
  • Make your own health and beauty products – so many of these on the market contain bits of plastic like microbeads that are not biodegradable so hang around the planet for years and years. Learning how to use essential oils safely and effectively is my current go-to hobby and really makes you realise the absolute selfishness of some of the items we think we need to be beautiful;
  • Get a pet/get out into nature – this has been a huge one for me. Taking our dog out every day, in all weather, has been a real eye-opener for me. I’ve been able to notice the changing of the seasons more than I normally would and you can’t help but gain an appreciation for the sheer beauty of the planet when you’re out in it every day (okay, maybe not during the trio of storms we just had admittedly!).
  • Turn the thermostat down and before you switch the heating on check if you’re wearing at least a couple of layers (t-shirt, jumper or hoodie), pants and socks and even throw a blanket over you first. You’ll definitely save a few quid!
  • Take part in Earth Hour on 28 March 2020: https://www.wwf.org.uk/earthhour

I’m always keen to learn new ways I can do more to help in the fight against climate change, so if you’ve got any ideas definitely add them in the comments so that I can start finding ways to build these too into my lifestyle, and for other readers too.

It would be great to know too which of the above ideas you think you could start adding into your life. Maybe sharing this article on your social media would be a fantastic place to start! 🙂

Seven Worlds, One Planet

Not for the Fainthearted

For anyone who’s watched any of Seven Worlds, One Planet, Sir David Attenborough’s latest collaboration with the BBC, I think it’s fair to say, it does not make easy viewing. Having said that, in my view, it’s not supposed to. It is meant to wake us up to the reality all around us. It is meant to jolt us into action.

And not before time.

As hard as it is to watch and to see the devastating effects of climate change on every continent on the planet, I strongly recommend that any adult who says that they care about animals, nature and/or the environment takes the time to do so. But I warn you, it is not for the faint of heart.

Just this morning, whilst I watched Episode 2 with growing horror at the destruction of habitats and how this is already affecting numerous animals living in Asia, my husband turned to me and asked how I could watch things like this. My response? It motivates me to try and do more about it. For me, that is reason enough.

Unfortunately, the time to bury our head in the sand and wait for others to save the planet has come and gone. Turning the other way and pretending it isn’t happening doesn’t mean it isn’t happening right now. If I have to sit through a programme showing me the stark reality of my actions and the actions of all those around me to guilt trip me into doing more, then frankly, it’s the least I can do.

I get it – for some the harsh reality is just too hard to face. For those people, ignorance really is bliss – for now. If those people can be motivated to do more for the planet without facing facts then great, don’t watch it. Get on with saving the planet today. But as harsh as it is to face watching a programme, climate change is encroaching on our lives one day at a time. Wait until we’re living it, as our current culture and behaviour is forcing these animals to do. Ignorance won’t be bliss then will it? Will you wish you had done more then?

Whilst I know that these days I do more than I used to in an effort to make a difference, at heart I know that there is more that I can do than what I am doing, and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it is this fact which makes watching this programme difficult to do. If every single one of us, whether having watched this programme or not, did one thing new towards helping in the fight against climate change today, then this would be a step in the right direction.

There will always be the sceptics out there who question the point of it given the pollution being produced by certain countries. Leave them to it – for some the responsibility is too great to bear that they are defeated without trying. Me, I intend to work harder at what I can do, starting with watching programmes like this and educating myself as to the true, terrible state of our planet and what I can do now, today, to help in the battle.

If you want to learn more and are ready to face up to the challenge, you can find out more here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07dzjwl

Another great source with tips on how you can begin fighting back can be found here: https://www.wwf.org.uk/thingsyoucando

What will you do?

Vegetables

In the Garden: September 2019

September Gardening Tips

As very much a novice gardener, I often find myself trawling the web trying to find out what I should be doing in the garden each month in a language I understand! There’s a lot of terminology to learn with gardening I’m discovering, to be able to make the most of the vast amount of information out there.

One of my favourites is the RHS website (link below) which has a ton of articles for all abilities, including monthly tips for how to keep the garden looking grand all year round if you’re based here in the UK. If you’re a beginner too, this might be an excellent place to start:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/in-month/september

It’s definitely given me plenty of ideas to be getting on with – September seems an especially busy month! Here’s what I plan to get on with starting tomorrow and throughout the rest of the month:

Harvesting

Time to reap the rewards of the last few months by harvesting any ripened fruit or veg from the garden. In my case, having only moved into our home last year, I haven’t done that much with the garden this year other than to maintain it. We are still lucky enough to have already had strawberries yield fruit earlier in the year and now raspberries and blackberries to pick too so this is where I plan to start!

Give the Garden One Last Good Once Over

We had a crazy amount of wet weather throughout most of August here in Manchester so the lawn is well overdue a good trim. There’s also plenty of plants to be pruned/deadheaded or divided. If you have a pond then this would be a good time to have it netted to avoid it becoming clogged with leaves and other debris. Get the kids involved on an “autumnal treasure-hunt” to gather materials to use in an art and crafts session. My youngest did a great job of starting us off today:

Autumn leaves, plants, berries, feather
Our hoard from our Autumnal Treasure Hunt today

Rainy Day Jobs

Rainy days are the perfect days to get into greenhouses, sheds, garages and summerhouses to get them winter-ready too. Get all your gardening gear, cleaned, tidied and put away, including any used pots, to avoid unwanted pests and to keep equipment at its best. We don’t yet have a greenhouse (though it’s on the wish list!) but do have a garage and summerhouse that could do with a bit of TLC before winter arrives, so next rainy day they’ll be all tidy and sparkling clean.

Up Your Eco-Warrior Game

As I’ve become more interested in gardening, one of the many positive effects of this has been a greater desire to be more eco-friendly. We already have a fair amount of animal garden visitors including birds and squirrels so my husband does a fantastic job of keeping our bird-feeder well stocked but this might be something you decide to invest in if you don’t have one already. Starting a compost now is also perfect with all the autumn leaves about to start falling. At the very least, if your local authority provides a “composting bin” for food and gardening waste, make sure you’re using it. Water butts are also an excellent investment now and something I’m adding to the wish-list!

Start Planning Next Year’s Garden

Start taking accurate measurements and notes now on how your garden currently is and think about how you would like to improve it. Maybe you’d like a herb garden next year or a vegetable patch. This is the time to start thinking about what it is you would like to see growing in your garden next year and planning for how you can achieve this. This is one of the rookie mistakes I made when I first got interested in gardening. At the start of Spring, I’d get terribly excited about the garden and then realise I probably should have started in the previous autumn. There are loads of great gardening apps and tools out there to help with this so if you’re interested, try a Google search on “garden plan” and you’ll be spoilt for choice!

What about you – what will you be doing in these last few warm days of September in the garden?

Single Use Plastics

Should We Be Charged for Single-Use Cups?

Sign the Petition Now

Yesterday, I received an email from Green Peace asking me to sign their petition to the Chancellor to start charging a minimum 25p levy on all single-use cups. The suggestion is that the money raised by such a campaign could then be used to support environmentally-friendly projects and planet-saving initiatives.

Pilot Results

The scheme has in fact already been introduced, in the Houses of Parliament of all places, and in less than a year is said to have led to almost a 75% drop in the amount of single-use cups being used there, according to Green Peace’s website.

And I can believe it too having already seen with my own eyes the incredible success of the plastic bag charge brought in only a few years ago.

I understand that there will be naysayers out there saying that it won’t make any difference and that it’s too late, the planet is already doomed, but would it really hurt to try?

Previous Successful Schemes

We all got round the plastic bag charge by simply getting into the habit of buying longer lasting bags that could be re-used far more often and then remembering to take them with us, or pay the price and feel guilty, every time we forgot them. Many a time my husband and I have remembered to bring the bags with us as far as the boot of the car and then, suddenly, halfway round the supermarket, one of us has had to run back to the car where we’ve left them! I’m sure we’re not alone in this. But really, in the grand scheme of things, I can’t say it’s ever really registered as even a mild inconvenience. It’s now just a way of life and something we do now purely as a matter of course.

And so it could be with single-use cups. Sometimes, we just need a bit of persuasion to remember that there is another way.

So of course I signed the petition and you can too, just click the link: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/throwaway-cup-levy and have yourself a super feel-good Friday that you’re at least trying to make the world a better place 🙂

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Looking for Your Life Purpose?

No Planet B

Maybe this is it. If you haven’t yet watched the thought-provoking Our Planet on Netflix with Sir David Attenborough’s urgent message to us all, I highly recommend it.

Taking Inspiration from Across Generations

Personally, seeing Greta Thunberg and her fellow young supporters making such an impact, I feel pretty inspired to do whatever I can, whenever I can to at least try.

And the amazing thing about it is that it has helped bring new purpose to my life, to see and interact with the world around me in a different way.

Turning Over a New Leaf

It wasn’t always like this for me. I was never brought up in a family or world that really cared about these issues as strongly as they do today. But, as Sir David and his team of scientists make clear, there is still time – just.

I keep seeing the phrase “Every disaster movie starts with the government ignoring a scientist” and frighteningly there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

How You Can Help

If you do just one thing today to help the planet, become more educated on climate change whether by watching the amazing Our Planet or visiting websites such as WWF and Friends of the Earth – you’ll be glad you did.

planet earth

Want to be a Superhero?

Calling All Superheroes!

Great – Because now you can! Judging by the success of superhero films, TV shows and comics, pretty much most of us have dreamt of having superpowers at least once in our lives. But, I wonder, if we really did have superpowers, would we even use them?

The Nemesis

Usually, when the likes of the Avengers save the planet from some diabolical threat, we applaud that as a superpower. In real life though, there is a just as diabolical threat facing the planet right now but no superheroes to stop it. The threat, of course, is climate change.

For decades now, we’ve all heard about the damage being done to the planet and gradually matters have improved – but not quickly enough. Now we need to up our game, fast, if the damage is not to be irreversible.

Pick Your Superhero Power!

So, if you’ve ever wanted to save the planet and be a superhero, now’s your chance! Just pick one of the following as your new “superpower” and save the planet:

  • Drive with windows up;
  • Go “meat and dairy free” one day a week;
  • Reuse whatever you can, bags, jars coffee cups, water bottles;
  • Recycle everything;
  • Buy recyclable only where possible
  • Putting lids on pans when cooking;
  • Dry clothes outside;
  • Keep car tyres inflated;
  • Sign an online petition with an organisation like WWF or Greenpeace;
  • Lobby your MP;
  • Walk or use public transport;
  • Turn off lights;
  • Shorter showers;
  • Try zero waste

Imagine if every person on the planet changed just one thing in their lives from this list, what a difference that would make. Wouldn’t hurt to try?

What could you change today to save the world?