How to reduce your environmental footprint
According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, unless there is an immediate, rapid and significant scale reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, it will be impossible to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
This will mean more heatwaves, severe flooding and drought in many regions, and warming of the ocean temperature affecting both the ocean ecosystem and the people that rely on them.
It sounds pretty hopeless, however, there is still time to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. If we ALL adopted just some of the tips below, we as individuals could reduce our environmental footprint and help limit greenhouse gas emissions.
1. Reduce your household consumption
- Buy less stuff. Only buy what you need and invest in quality products that last.
- Choose preloved items over new ones to make use of existing items already produced.
- Support and buy from companies that are environmentally responsible and sustainable.
- Before throwing an item away, ask: Can I re-use or repair this?
2. Limit your waste
- Bring your own bags to the supermarket, including reusable produce and bread bags.
- Look for products that have less packaging.
- Don't buy bottled water. Bring your own water in a reusable bottle.
- Use stainless steel straws instead of plastic ones or avoid straws altogether.
- Lower your food waste. Review what you already have and take a shopping list to the store to prevent buying things you don’t need.
- Recycle your unwanted items responsibly. Sell your unwanted clothing and other household items or donate items to charities such as GIVIT.
- Call your local government to see if they have a disposal location for used batteries, glass, plastics, paper or other wastes.
3. Conserve water
- Collect rainwater to water your garden.
- Water the garden early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce water loss due to evaporation.
- Save water by taking shorter showers and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving. Simply reducing your shower time by 2 minutes will save up to 38 litres of water.
- Use your clothes washing machine only when you have a full load to wash.
4. Reduce your energy intake
- Switch to renewable energy by installing solar panels.
- Do an energy audit of your home. This will show how you use or waste energy and help identify ways to be more energy efficient.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.
- Let clothes dry naturally on a clothesline.
- Keep lids on pans when cooking to conserve energy.
- Switch lights off when you leave the room and unplug your electronic devices when they are not in use.
- Wash your clothing in cold water. Doing two loads of laundry weekly in cold water instead of hot or warm water can save up to 228 kilos of carbon dioxide each year.
5. Drive less
- Walk, take public transportation, carpool, or bike to your destination when possible. This not only reduces CO2 emissions it also lessens traffic congestion.
- When you drive, avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration as this can result in 40 percent more fuel consumption than consistent, calm driving.
- Take care of your car. Keeping your tyres properly inflated and your car properly maintained can increase your fuel efficiency.
- When doing errands, try to combine them to reduce your driving.
It's time to make the change. We all have a part to play in reducing greenhouse emissions, and we can't rely on others to do this for us. Together we can make a difference.