The Climate Crisis: Why we should all be feeling VERY uncomfortable in this heat and my personal journey to cut my own emissions.

While you are sitting uncomfortably in the heat, I ask you to also feel uncomfortable in the gravitas of the situation we find ourselves in.  

While I am surrounded by people complaining about the heat (me included) or enjoying the sunshine in their gardens, this heatwave has got me seriously climate anxious and I hope it has you too.  We joke and complain, which is understandable (we have a lot of things to worry about right now), but I don't want anyone to miss this moment, to clearly see what is happening around us. 

We have been fairly lucky in the UK to not see much of the visible impact of climate change, especially compared to many other countries, and often it can help us push the worries and issues away and ignore them for a little while longer. 

What is happening around us right now, can not be ignored.  Bangladesh is experiencing the worst flooding they have seen in 100 years, this is a country being devastated by the effects of climate change because they are vulnerable as a delta country. It was reported last Tuesday that 9.5 million people in Bangladesh are marooned and at least 69 people died in the disaster.  In recent weeks, India and Bangladesh have experienced floods that have killed close to 200 people and displaced 7 million. 

What's even sadder, is that Bangladesh emits just 0.56t of carbon per person, compared to 10t in the UK and 14.5t in the U.S.  The brunt of the impacts caused by the climate crisis is felt by developing countries, while the problem is caused predominantly by developed, privileged, countries.  It also doesn't pass me that within these developing countries, it is privileged people like me, that cause the most damage.  

Closer to home, temperatures are reaching record highs in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France and Britain.   

We have seen fires in Spain that have ravaged at least 4,000 hectares of land. Italy, Croatia, France and Portugal all reported forest fires linked to the heat this week.  In Portugal, over 2,000 firefighters were battling dozens of wildfires.  I was there to experience the fires last week, with locals saying it is the first they have ever experienced in that area.  One person died in a forest blaze, authorities said Wednesday, after a body was found in a burned area in the northern region of Aveiro.  Around 60 others have been injured, some 860 people evacuated and roughly 60 homes destroyed or damaged.

Time is running out, action needs to be done now.  There is no question that policy and businesses need to make big changes, especially in certain industries. 

BUT, we all need to make changes to our lives too, in order to try and limit further damage, as much as we possibly can.  I am on my own personal journey to try and reduce my own impact and while I am by no means perfect, I thought I would share the changes my family and I have made to our lives, to try and make better, more conscious decisions.  I hope this will inspire and get people to share their changes, as I am always trying to learn how to do better. 

So, what have I done to reduce my impact?

4 small changes, based on research, we've made in our household for a big impact.

1. Eat less meat and dairy

Avoiding meat and dairy is one of the biggest ways to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.

I went vegan for a month and I found it very hard, honestly, I don't think I will ever go back there.  The compromise we have settled on is we (the grownups) generally don't eat meat at all during the week and we have non-dairy milk in cereal and coffee.  We still have dairy milk for the girls and for our cups of tea and we still have dairy natural yoghurt.  We haven't (and won't be any time soon) cut out dairy cheese.  

Joseph Poore's research found that if every family in the UK swapped one meal a week from red meat to plant-based, it would have the same environmental impact as taking 16 million cars off the roads.

2. Household Changes

Making small changes in your home, can have a big impact on your footprint and also reduce your energy costs.   Energy Saving Trust shows you some great ways to reduce your bills and also, your carbon.  

What we have done (we don't always do perfectly):

- Wash our clothes at 30 degrees (also better for your clothes)

- We only tumble dry towels, everything else is hung up 

- The girls have a shower twice a week rather than a bath (we try to make it fun, normally it is a nightmare)

- We only fill the kettle with what we use and we reduce water usage wherever we can (brushing teeth, we have dual flushes etc).

- We compost and recycle wherever we can 

3. Cut consumption and waste

Direct household consumption attributes for 20% of all emissions and indirect, is closer to 80%.  Clothes, alone, produce 10% of the world's emissions.  Consumption and fast fashion are an area where consumers can, relatively easily, make a real difference.

Ways we have reduced consumption:

- I haven't bought any clothes at all for myself in 2022, I have committed to no clothes for 2022.  Next year, if I need (want) more clothes, I will rent or buy second-hand clothes only. Long-term I would like to give myself an allowance of just a few, high-quality, pieces a year because I do love, love, love beautiful clothes, I plan to offset that with having to sell the same number of items.

- We rent, re-use or buy second-hand clothing for our children.  We still buy about 30% new, this could definitely be improved. 

- We use refillable milk, body wash, deodorants, hand wash, and cleaning products.

- We buy in bulk, wherever we can, and swap to sustainable products wherever possible.  For example, bamboo toilet paper that we buy in a year's supply!

- We shop our vegetables and the meat we do buy, locally, with no packaging.  This is a luxury, however, because it is more expensive and easy for us as we can walk there.

- We use reusable bags for our shopping (I do sometimes forget).

How can I do better?

1. Transportation 

Transportation is a biggie.  It takes up 28% of the UK greenhouse gas emissions,  Flying, is especially bad.  As someone who loves to travel, this is one I struggle with.  

What we need to do as a household:

- Avoid the car more (stop getting in it to go places I can walk).

- Get public transport, wherever possible. I do like the train and get it often, we need to do it more (long trips are hard with the amount of stuff that comes with a dog and two kids)

- Switch our car to electric, we drive a diesel car and we need to make the switch.  Expense makes this one a toughie!

- Reduce our travel by at least one flight a year.  If we were to get a train, rather than a plane, to Amsterdam we would emit 3kg rather than 58kg in CO2.  We need to swap one trip a year for a train-based trip!

Small things we do try to do: 

- Switch the engine off when we park up

- Pump up your tyres and make sure the oxygen sensors are working, this can improve mileage by up to 3% and 40% (Imperial college). 

2. Consumption and waste

Our consumption and waste can still be vastly improved.  Especially when it comes to our children - toys and our amazon purchases causing a huge number of deliveries is not good! 

- I never used cloth nappies, if we have more children that will be a conscious swap.  Along with reusable wipes.  

- I need to reduce new clothes for the girls and if they are new, they need to be made exclusively from organic or sustainable materials and I need to sell them as soon as I can (I find this bit hard to find the time for, which is why my preference is rental).

- I need to put my wardrobe up for rent, on my to-do list! I plan to put it on By Rotation.

- I am really good at remembering my water bottle and terrible at remembering my reusable coffee cup!

- Food waste has gotten much better, we use Hello Fresh (they are carbon neutral) and I think that has helped.  There is still much room for improvement, especially with the kid's food - I am unsure how to tackle this one with the children as I don't want them to force food if they are full.

3. Household Changes

- We are dreadful at leaving things on standby 

- We use the dishwasher too much and we pre-rinse too much 

- Our showers are still too long 

- Our council is rubbish with plastic waste but we don't do it ourselves

-Our heating is too high in the winter!

4. Impact of the business

Keep growing and make the business and our customers, as sustainable as possible!

There will also be plenty more we can be doing! Please let me know your suggestions and swaps!

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