Cllr Gregor Murray, Executive member for Climate Emergency Wokingham Borough Council writes part 9 in a series on tackling the Climate Emergency
What could you do to start?
There is no one big thing that can be done that would cut each of our carbon footprints in half.
We must do a lot of small things and let them add up to a big impact.
But knowing where to start can be confusing, and the perceived cost can be very scary.
Here are some low or zero cost ideas of where you could start.
- Why not try to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet one, two or three times a week? Meat consumption and the necessary farming are large causes of carbon emissions. Cutting fast food from your diet will also help.
- Walk short distances where you can, cycle slightly longer ones. We have a beautiful Borough to discover with over 170,000 metres of path, cycleway, greenway and public rights of way. Set yourself a target to cut your driven road miles in half, then in six months try to do it again.
- Shower for a minute less each day. When it's cold reach for a jumper and a second pair of socks before you reach for the thermostat. That will help save you money as well as emissions, as will blocking draughts and making sure your house is fully insulated.
- Install a smart meter in your house so you can track your energy consumption. Switch to a green energy tariff and install L.E.D. light bulbs around your house. Turn off lights when you're not in a room. You could even add timers to your appliances to make sure that they're not left running when you're not likely to be using them. I once worked for a company that put all of their printers and desktop power plugs on timers so they all turned off at 6:00 pm.
- Wash your clothes on a colder cycle. Hang them out on the washing line in summer and during winter dry them when you also have your heating on. Don't overfill your fridge. A fridge or freezer with too much in it uses significantly more energy to keep the contents cool than one that is roughly 2/3 full.
- Commute less where you can. The pandemic has taught us that many jobs that previously had to be done in offices can be done just as effectively from home. Ask your employer to do as few office days as possible and do as many meetings virtually as you can to save travel costs and emissions.
- Shop local. Order as little as possible to be delivered to your house, and where you do need a delivery, combine as many items as you can. Buy less clothing and reuse the clothes you have for longer. At Christmas, cut back on sending Christmas cards, using wrapping paper and buying gifts made from plastic or sold in excess packaging.
- Ban single-use plastics in your home. Use refillable products where possible. Recycle as fully as you can and make sure that nothing that could be recycled ends up in your domestic waste. Try home composting and growing your own fruit and vegetables. Use the bottle banks to ensure your glass gets reused as more glass. Visit the recycling centres. 78% of items taken to the Re3 centres gets recycled. That's 22% more than the Borough average. Get a water-butt to recycle rainwater and use it to water the wildflowers and trees that you could plant.
Not all of these are achievable by everyone. Your individual circumstances – whether your home doesn’t have a garden, whether your health is fragile, whether your employer won’t let you work from home – may mean that some of these are just off limits. But just some of these little steps would go a long way to saving the planet for generations to come.
Last week - 8. Let’s talk about Waste