Without doubt global warming is a reality, evidenced daily in our media through major ecological impacting events such as the Amazon forest fires, polar ice melting and the Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching.
This is not someone else’s problem to deal with, this is not a bad dream that we can turn a blind eye to, it is the responsibility of each and every person on the planet do their part and contribute to a solution, even on a budget.
Before we go any further let me disabuse you of a few popular myths that are frequently voiced in conversations wherein eco matters are discussed.
You don’t need to be a tree-hugging sandal-wearing hippy these days nor do you have collect rain water as if it were gold, drive the latest mini electric vehicle, put solar panels on your roof, install a wind farm in your back garden, only eat organic foods nor spend a fortune on all the latest environmentally friendly gadgets your eco beating heart desires.
Going green is as much about a frame of mind as about actions. The first step you need to take is to examine your lifestyle and identify any areas where your habits might have a harmful effect on you, your loved ones and on the immediate environment around you. Once you have done that, it is relatively simple to formulate a plan of action.
You will soon find that it is possible to adjust your current routine and make simple changes to move towards a more eco-friendly and socially responsible lifestyle whilst simultaneously reducing your outgoing finances.
But how can each and every one of us do this on a budget you might ask? Let me offer a guide of 5 simple steps that you can take today to aid our fragile environment, which will not only help save the planet but also improve your health and save you money!
Animal farming for beef and dairy production has been known to cause environmental damage for many years, and with the world’s population reaching around 50 billion mouths to feed by 2050 something needs to be done.
Livestock requires vast amounts of grazing space using land reclaimed by deforestation – less trees means reduced world oxygen production. The animals regularly receive supplementary feed from arable crops, which could be put to human use, whilst emitting large amounts of negative bi-product - greenhouse gas adding to global warming – and add to water shortages and pollution of waterways and oceans from other waste products.
In January 2019 the EAT–Lancet Commission underlined the need for the western world to change away from unsustainable and unhealthy diets of predominately red meat, sugar and refined grains to the healthy consumption of vegetables fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Not only did this report recognise the beneficial aspects in doing so for individual health but that it would enable food for all in the future.
Adopting a vegetarian or pescatarian lifestyle can be accomplished painlessly by gradually phasing out meat for a day or two each week and gradually increasing over time. Not only will you start to feel healthier but you will also find that your food bills are decreasing.
For all of capitalism faults it does have one trump card. Capitalism is about demand and supply. If us consumers demand green goods and services that are non-harmful to our planet, our corporations will have to start providing them. As, if they don’t, we will use another shop, service, or business that does. We as individual need to be drivers for change through our buying habits. Let’s make business compete not only on price, but on who is the greenest. When big business understands that the consumers want to purchase from a low carbon emitting, eco friendly business, they will all become them.
So, if you have the choice of purchasing from company A or B. Choose the greenest out of the 2.
In the UK food waste is an increasing problem. Every year we throw away an estimated 7 million tonnes of edible food each year, with an equivalent carbon footprint of 22 million tonnes.
With just a little forethought and imagination you can do your bit to reduce this figure and save money. Everybody’s heard of bubble and squeak but if you’re not a fan of sprouts, like me, there are many other variations to try - Google can be your best friend here.
Also try shepherd’s pie, stews, curries, casseroles and so on for meals than be created without draining your budget further.
And, if there is any food waste left then it can be composted, even in an indoor compost bin.
Not many of us can afford to buy a new electric or hybrid vehicle, yet – but we can still use less fuel.
Wherever possible cut down on your own vehicle costs, and gas emissions, by driving less. How do you do this? Taking public transport will reduce harmful vehicle emissions; carpooling will have the same reduction effect. When running errands, all within local vicinity, park your car at one place and walk to the other nearby locations.
Take any unnecessary objects out of your vehicle to reduce excess weight since heavier cars burn fuel quicker.
Keep your tyres inflated to the car and tyre manufacturers recommended levels and this will improve your fuel consumption by up to 3.3 percent.
Why not change your shopping habits too? Of course still support your local shops whenever possible, without your car. But if you find you have to regularly travel further afield for your groceries it is possible to save money and reduce your fuel usage by shopping online, thereby making even greater financial savings.
Why not eat at home more and plan your meals out ahead of time? This will help you save money at the grocery store and waste less food.
Many organic fruits, vegetables and dairy products not only taste better but also have less harmful additives, preservatives, chemicals or hormones added to them.
Increasingly the major retail chains, such as Safeway and Tesco, are recognising this upturn in customer demand and stocking their own generic brands instead of some of the more usual pricey organic brand names.
Wherever possible grow as many of your own fruits, vegetables and herbs as you can at home. Even in an apartment it is possible to grow some of your own food. This will help you cut down on costs, give you a source of organic food and aid in your long-term health.