Small changes made to our lifestyles make a big difference to climate change and going green. Sophie Clowes investigates how we can all become more Greta.
Kids are so wise these days. Going green and climate change has been a ‘thing’ for decades but it took a teenager to call it a crisis and get the world to listen. When 15-year-old Greta Thunberg staged a school strike over climate change, she taught the world many things, not least that the accumulation of small acts can make a big difference. “Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.”
(c) Instagram: Greta Thunberg
This was Greta’s closing line of her impassioned TED talk on climate change in 2018. And at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, in her famous “our house is on fire” speech, she opined, ‘The main solution is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases.”
There is much to be done if we are to put planet before profit. While the outlook is depressing, our efforts to redress the balance don’t need to be. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are under 10 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. We must act now!
Where and how do we start going green? By taking our children’s lead and implementing small changes in everything from food to fashion, toiletries to transport. As Greta said, “The science is clear and all we children are doing is acting on that united science.”
Every company should use the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) as their basis for greater sustainability and equality. The 17 SDGs address global challenges relating to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. If everyone works together, we can begin to make a real and positive difference. Here are some ideas.
Going green: general
- Choose to walk, run or cycle. Or use public transport. Or, if you must, car share
- Reduce air travel
- Use reusable bags, water bottles and coffee cups
- Take plastic bags to supermarket recycling points – used responsibly, plastic bags can be recycled and reused many times over
- Turn off unnecessary lights
- Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs
- Change to a green energy supplier
- Collect rainwater for the garden
- Use your local library
- Set washing machines to the lowest temperature
- Buy washing powder in boxes
- Line dry laundry
- Buy bamboo loo roll. Try Don’t Give A Crap
- Buy your soap, shampoo and conditioner in bar form
- Use a glass bottle for washing-up liquid bought in bulk
- Prevent draughts
- Grow your own herbs
- Return take-away plastic containers or take your own dishes
- Repurpose old cans and candles as vases, tealight holders or pen pots
- Fill your house with plants to purify the air and increase happiness
If threads are your thing, you are in luck: sustainability and going green is the height of fashion and it’s a trend that is here to stay. The obvious suggestion is to refrain from buying new but, if you must, there is choice, from Gabriella Hearst’s ‘honest luxury’, to the admirable efforts being made by the likes of H&M and & Other Stories.
We have to consider all the links in the chain, from eco materials to ethical factory practices, from compostable components to sustainable packaging and transport.
Miranda Dunn, whose eponymous label makes vegan fur coats and sustainable dresses, suggests you should wear any item at least 30 times. Stylist Kat Farmer, @doesmybumlook40, reckons you should be able to think of at least three occasions and three different outfits to go with it to justify a purchase. While author Daisy Buchanan, @thedaisybee, celebrates, “rented splendour, vintage treasures, charity shop rummaging and finding new ways to shop the old”.
Head to The Frugality site for stylist Alexandra Stedman’s words of wisdom. Or, Emma Watson, who has partnered with @thredUP to launch their new Fashion Footprint Calculator, which will tell you the carbon impact of your wardrobe. Check out eco-age.com, from the woman who threw down the challenge of turning the red carpet green, Livia Firth. If you are interested in renting clothes, try mywardrobehq, and for secondhand purchases head online to the likes of ebay or on foot to a charity shop.
Eco eating means consuming more plant-based foods, eschewing all plastic packaging, eating locally and seasonally and preventing waste. There are lots of box schemes, such as OddBox or Abel & Cole, that support farmers and small producers, as well as food-sharing apps such as Olio, Karma and Farmdrop, which ensure no food goes to waste.
Other tips include:
- Milk delivered in glass bottles by Milk&More
- Taking your own receptacles and shopping in bulk stores
- Repurposing water purifying charcoal tablets by keeping them in the fridge to stop it going mouldy
- Ensuring your online grocery orders are delivered in paper bags. Try Ocado Zoom
We have finally woken up to the horror of tides of plastic washing through our homes. Happily, many sustainable children’s initiatives are welcome money-savers. Here’s what we have learnt:
- Washable nappies are initially expensive, but many councils run schemes that help with the outlay
- If you swap just one disposable for a washable every day, that’s 365 nappies not going to landfill in a year
- The most eco solution is to potty-train your baby. Sit them over the loo or on a potty after every feed. If a child is out of nappies day and night by two, that’s thousands of nappies saved from landfill and a saving of, at least, £800 per child
- Use bamboo plates and bowls
- Trade toys and clothes with friends
- Research suggests we should be talking to our children about periods from the age of eight. Period pants are an expensive initial outlay, but each pair lasts about two years and produces zero waste. Try Wuka or Flux.
Let’s fill our houses with more love, more laughter and less stuff by going green. And quickly. “Adults keep saying we owe it to young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope. I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.” Thank you, Greta, for raising the alarm.
Main Image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash