We’re all staying inside right now to keep our communities safe, but this begs the question – how can we take effective climate action from our sofas?
Actually, if you’re safe and well, and have the capacity to do so, some of the most impactful climate actions you can take from home. So instead of getting stuck in another YouTube rabbit hole or trying to “complete Netflix”, use the time you have to influence positive change in our ongoing fight for climate justice.
Here’s our top 5 climate actions you can take now to make the most of your time indoors…
1) Move to an ethical bank
Who is your bank lending to – are they using your money literally bankrolling fossil fuels like Barclays and HSBC? Are their investment practices leading to social damage or recessions that hinder green progress? If so it’s time to make a change – ideally before 22nd April as part of Earth Day Switch!
The Good Shopping Guide has a great ranking system of banks on a range of sustainability criteria. The Current Account Switch service normally makes it much easier than you’d think. If you check around some banks might even pay you to switch current accounts. Make sure to consider your savings accounts too.
2) Buy less stuff, and spend some time taking care of what you have
The carbon impact of travel and energy is often discussed, but the impact of purchases or ‘embodied carbon’ are often forgotten. So take the chance to take care of what you’ve got – put a protective wax coat on your snowboards/skis, give your mountain bike that probably overdue proper good clean and oil, and while you’re at it polish any leather boots to make them last longer.
You could try repairing or reproofing clothes too. Each item of clothing bought causes whole kilograms of carbon dioxide, meaning the annual UK average just on buying of clothes is in the hundreds of kilograms per person – a solid chunk of the few tonnes we should be aiming to stay below in the next few years. Sew patches over holes and re-waterproof your outer layers with Nikwax or similar.
You might also be able to fix something you’d otherwise throw away – some internet searching can lead to easy to follow tutorials, iFixit is particularly good. Fixing large items rather than buying new can save hundreds of kilograms or even tonnes of CO2, fairly significant amounts relative to the annual total for an average person.
3) Change to a renewable energy provider
Some big, polluting companies are relying on this being too much of a faff to change to keep you on often overpriced contracts based heavily on fossil fuels – show them who’s boss. Switching to the right company will assist the development of new renewables rather than oil and gas.
The important thing is to buy from a provider that creates additional renewables as some of the options promoted as ‘green’ are in fact greenwash. Good Energy and Ecotricity are examples of strong choices – for more information on this as well as to find other companies to price check see this Which? writeup.
4) Teach yourself to cook tasty, low-impact meals
Food is, of course, an essential – but a large carbon footprint from your meals isn’t. Being at home with time on your hands should be a good time to identify ways to lower the environmental impact of what you’re eating and explore recipes using new ingredients.
The most impactful action here is to stop or drastically cut meat and dairy consumption. Meat-free meals needn’t be taste-free, and there are more and more good alternatives available, but it does take some practice to adjust.
In addition to reducing meat, it’s worth avoiding air transported fruit and veg – bananas and apples, for example, are sea shipped so their footprint is low, but asparagus and mangetout out of season will often be flown, leading to a swollen greenhouse footprint approaching that of meat. Try to eat local and seasonal to avoid this – veg box schemes such as Riverford make it easy and a search of the internet will provide loads of seasonal recipe sites such as the Flexitarian.
5) Move to an ethical pension
I was shocked when I checked an old pension recently and found it’s top 5 holdings by value included BP and Shell! You’re unlikely to look at the details of your pension very often, but this can result in a load of your money being invested in fossil fuel companies and the like, damaging the environment.
You can often change fund choice quite easily even if you stay with the same company. ShareAction has loads more information including a guide to choosing a different pension. As they put it – what sort of world is your money building? (Remember any old pensions too!)
Take the chance to get some of these tricker items off the full to-do list! Many of these points also apply to businesses, if you can push for such changes at your work.
Take care of yourself and others over this period – community networks we build now to increase resilience can continue into the future, and are ideal places to support each other in positive change.