5 Top Tips to Reduce Your Carbon FootprintMember News
You can’t flick through a newspaper or watch the news on the television without some mention of our current climate crisis. With an array of quickly snowballing movements, such as Greta Thunberg’s initiation of Fridays For Future – an international movement encouraging students to strike in front of their closest town hall, every Friday - people are raising awareness, demanding action and making their voices heard. We are surrounded by it, but it somehow feels somewhere far away… what can we do to make a difference?
It’s almost impossible to function in this digital age without keeping your smart devices attached to you as an additional limb. We keep them on, we keep them charged but do we ever turn them off? When was the last time you shut down your laptop? We’re all guilty of leaving the occasional monitor on overnight or forgetting to shut down/unplug our devices properly when not in use, and we can all make a conscious effort to be better with it. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to make a real dent in your carbon footprint, switch to a renewable energy provider. It is cheaper and easier than you think and if you don’t believe me, why not head over to The Big Switch and see for yourself? And, if you are already running on renewable energy (bravo, step ahead) and you know first-hand how easy it is, then you are the best person encourage others to; friends, family, colleagues or even your employer.
Climate change activists like Greta Thunberg are boycotting air travel in favour of trains and zero-emission sailboats to travel around the globe (yes, at the end of her European tour, she came to England by train to make her speech). She even founded a group called We Stay on the Ground to encourage others to follow suit. We may not all be able to make this commitment, but what we can do is be more conscious of our travel choices. If we need to drive to work, can we carpool with colleagues, or investigate government grants for electric cars? If we live close enough, could we walk or cycle to work/train station? And if we can’t, could we perhaps look for an opportunity closer to home? It may seem drastic, but if you can find a like for like opportunity closer to home that’s going to save you time, money and emissions on commuting, it is worth considering.
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Make your voice heard
We as individuals can only do so much to reduce our carbon footprint. Possibly the most effective, but also the most daunting, action to take is to join a strike or protest (Fridays For Future, for instance, encourages you to stand outside your local government building in peaceful protest and to only strike in a way that you feel safe with!). Making your voice heard doesn’t necessarily mean marching the streets with cardboard signs; you could contact your local leaders via phone or email. Alternatively, (and possibly less intimidating) you could talk to your workplace, your university, or even your favourite brand, and campaign for one achievable change, such as introducing a recycling system or switching to renewable energy.
Meat Free Monday, anyone?
This one may be a tough one to swallow, but meat production is one of the leading causes of climate change – 14-18% of global emissions come from animal farming, that’s more than every carbon-coughing bus, car, plane and train combined. Could you commit to a day a week without animal products? Since participating in Veganuary (as the name suggests, going vegan for the entire month of January) last year, I have drastically cut down on my animal product consumption. Since then I have challenged my colleagues to try Vegan meat alternatives and nut milks have earned a permanent place in our staff fridge.
Could you challenge a colleague to a meat-free lunch? Monday may be pushing it, how about a Tofu Tuesday Challenge? There is an infinite number of tasty vegan blogs, recipes and videos out there, or (thanks to its rising popularity) you can pick up something readymade and clearly labelled at most major supermarkets. Even if an entire day of veganism seems like a bit of a jump, if you’re looking for somewhere to start, try cutting down/out beef and lamb as they have the highest environmental impact (red meat produces 500% more emissions than white meat or pork).
Use your vote
The next general election is currently scheduled for the 5th May 22, but in the current political landscape, we could expect it to be pulled forward to this year. Whether you are a business owner or an employee, the next general election is likely to affect your business in some way. Whilst the future of the UK remains uncertain, the current climate crisis will affect us all uniformly; taking the proposed climate policies (or lack thereof) into consideration when deciding where to cast your vote could be one of the most simple yet effective ways of making a difference. Additionally, if the UK is to separate from the EU, we will lose a lot of safety and environmental legislation and regulation that the larger council enforces – consider backing parties with policies to rectify this.
There’s only so much that we can do as individuals to make a difference to climate change (and only a certain amount of emissions is controlled by our lifestyle choices). Ultimately, it’s up to the larger powers at play to enforce rules and legislation that will oblige/compel industries and individuals to act sustainably. It could make a world of difference. What we can do as individuals, however, is work together to place pressure on these larger powers to act in ethical and sustainable ways, and the government to introduce these rules.
What do Gleeson do to reduce their carbon footprint?
So, we’ve made this list of suggestions, but do we practice what we preach? We like to think so. We have an easy to follow recycling system in place, we run off 100% renewable energy and we have introduced energy-efficient office equipment (such as power saving devices, motion censored LED lights and timed heating). We have installed water filtration pumps to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics, we encourage our cycle to work scheme with financial aid, and we work in partnership with Green Planet to recycle our confidential waste. Most recently, we have invested in telecommuting technology and we encourage flexible working. This means that our employees can save time (and energy!) commuting by setting up office wherever and our video platform means that clients and candidates can do the same – saving time, money and cutting carbon footprints all-round: winner winner vegan dinner.
Yes, we know, it should be the government and the industries leading by example, but presently they are not. Changing our consumption patterns may encourage companies to change their production patterns, and we should be doing our individual bit, but it’s not enough to change an entire system. But how can we demand a change if we are not willing to? So, let’s strive for both the individual and the collective, to apply pressure through every channel and do everything in the realms of our power over to make a difference.
You can find Greta Thunberg’s full speech here.