How our lifestyles contribute to climate breakdown
- Many of us buy items we don’t need. The more things you own, the greater the size of your carbon footprint.
- We rely on single-use items such as bottles, bags and packaging. Usually they are made from plastic which can take 1,000 years to decompose.
- When we throw away items not nearly enough are recycled. That means many items are left to rot.
- Our disposable lifestyles lead to items being overproduced and often going to waste. Both production and waste contribute harmful emissions to our atmosphere.
- Most of us buy food rather than growing our own which fuels the wasteful food production industry.
What stops us from changing our lifestyles?
- Convenience - Grabbing the nearest item without thinking about the consequences is often just the easiest thing to do. Carrying reusable items around can feel tedious. We prioritise the choices that require less time and effort so we don’t have to sacrifice aspects of our lifestyles.
- Availability - A lot of the time we just don’t have a choice available to us. The vast majority of items in the average supermarket are sold in unsustainable packaging.
- Consumerism - In our society, it has become the norm to buy more than you need, in fact it’s often seen as a symbol of success. In addition, companies use advertising to convince us we need their product, continuing the consumer cycle.
What you can do now
Buy less, recycle more
Break the consumer cycle and become comfortable with only buying what you need. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll be saving money. Win-win!
When you do shop, try to only buy local and seasonal food. For household and personal hygiene products pick chemical-free or organic.
When it comes time to throw something away, always make sure you’re recycling correctly. Procedures differ from country to country but most will at least ask you to separate out plastics, paper items and food waste. Search online for ‘recycling + your area’ to learn more about what you need to do.
How much would this help?
If we stop buying so much, fewer items will be produced, leading to reduced energy production and energy wastage. By recycling, we decrease the amount that goes to waste and ensure that fewer new materials are needed for future production.
Ditch single-use plastics and replace with reusable items
Plastic is a major problem. Its production emits dangerous greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and when it goes to waste it can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. It’s estimated that we recycle only 20% of global plastic, so most single-use plastics are truly only ever used once.
8 million tonnes of it end up in our oceans each year, causing great harm to animals. We must use less and recycle all plastic used to end this life threatening cycle. Here are some of the main choices you can make to help:
- Don’t take plastic bags from shops to carry your items — bring your own
- If you need to buy water choose glass bottles — or even better carry your own reusable water bottle
- Whilst shopping try to find items with no packaging, reusable packaging or recyclable packaging
- Buy second hand instead of new when possible
- Buy high quality items, they will last longer
How much would this help?
Plastic might not be the first thing people think of as a contributor to climate breakdown, but its existence causes many problems. By transitioning away from plastic we will be moving towards more self-sufficient lifestyles. If we all do this the effects will likely trickle out into other aspects of our lives, helping the world to become more sustainable.
Live a more independent life
We don’t have to rely on corporations and other third parties to live, this is just how our society has developed. Consider becoming more independent. For example grow some of your own fruit and vegetables to become less dependent on the food industry.
One of the best choices you can make it to create your own energy supply with wind or solar.
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Help change the system
Support the people, groups and parties who prioritise the planet
All global warming could be helped by changes to laws across the world which prioritise the planet. Find your local candidates who promise to prioritise the planet and support them.
Get involved on a grassroots level with activist groups and charities trying to raise awareness.
How can I do even more?
Become a vocal advocate of preventing climate breakdown. You could stand as a political candidate prioritising the planet, or join an activist group or charity.
Why not start your own business or charity trying to fix a problem associated with climate change.
Too long; didn't read?
The way we live today is destroying the planet. We need to change or it will get worse, fast. Consider changes such as:
- Only buy items you need and always recycle what you don’t
- Ditch single-use plastics in favour of reusable items
- Vote for those who prioritize the planet
- Spread the word so others make changes too