1. Improve your knowledge
Think media not social media. Start with books, scientific journals, news (from reliable sources) & magazines.
One of the hardest parts about the fight against climate change is answering those hard-hitting questions from deniers. The best thing to do is arm yourself...with knowledge. Here's a list of authors, books, journals and magazines/newspapers to get you ready for battle:
- Anything by Naomi Klein, especially This Changes Everything and On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal
- George Monbiot (just a overall fantastic person, he is part of Extinction Rebellion and writer). Any book will be great and he also has a website here.
- Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth: about an economics that takes the Earth's limits into account.
- The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
- Fossil Capital by Andreas Malm: book about the links between fossil fuels and capitalism (written by Daisy's professor at Lund University!).
- Be Kind magazine
- The Guardian newspaper
- Journals are hard to get access to if you're not already part of an institution, such as university. We're going to be on the look-out for free pages, so stay tuned!
2. Get involved in some collective action(s)
As an individual we can only do so much, the big changes come from us acting collectively and approaching the problem systemically. Hence Extinction Rebellion's mantra 'system change, not climate change'.
Join a community group: collective action does not have to be in the form of protesting, you can join an environmental community group e.g. beach cleanup groups, a community garden, skill sharing workshops, etc. Here's a some groups in Sydney:
- Permaculture Northern Beaches
- OceanBee often organises beach cleanups
- Youth Food Movement organises collection of food waste from restaurants and supermarkets.
- Check out the groups at your University/school e.g. Sustainable Ocean Alliance at the University of Sydney and UNSW Enviro Collective at UNSW.
Protest: there are a number of ways to protest, whether it be holding signs and marching, attending 'sit-ins', flash mobs or 'die-ins'. Here are the groups pioneering climate change protest action.
"We need to get angry and understand what is at stake. And then we need to transform that anger into action and to stand together united and just never give up."Greta Thunberg in interview with Democracy Now!
- Extinction Rebellion
- StopAdani a group currently holding nation-wide protests against Adani's mine in Queensland, Australia.
- Seed Mob: Indigenous Youth Climate Network
- 350.org (worldwide)
- Or start your own! Comment if you'd like some advice/contacts.
Petitions: get signing on any topic you are passionate about. Presenting our government, big businesses or even local businesses with petitions is one of the easiest ways we can generate discussion about change.
If you know about any groups that I haven't mentioned, please comment and I'll add them to the list.
3. Divest your money into sustainable banks and funds
There are 3 ways that you may be investing in fossil fuels without even realising:
Electricity and energy: most homes in Australia are fuelled by 'The Big 3' (also called the 'Dirty 3') power companies: AGL, Energy Australia and Origin. These 3 companies control three quarters of the energy market. But you do have a choice.
The Green Electricity Guide ranks electricity retailers on environmental performance across Australia. As of 2018, the best performers are Powershop (uses hydro and wind farms), Diamond Energy (uses biogas and solar panels).
Banks: it's important that you understand where your money goes. The Market Forces website compares the fossil fuel investment positions of >120 banks, credit unions and building societies.
We personally recommend ME Bank. "ME does not have any investments in the mining industry, including the coal and gas export industries, and does not intend to invest in these industries in future."
Superannuation/pension fund: many of the top super companies invest in coal power or leave a large proportion of their investments as 'undisclosed'. For example, 'Rest Industry Super' invests 2.84 % of funds in fossil fuels and 85.97 % of their investments are undisclosed. Compare this to Future Super, which has 0% fossil fuel investment and 0 % undisclosed, so you can understand exactly where your money is going. The Guardian wrote an article on the subject back in 2015.
Sustainable funds are growing. coal is a depleting, finite resource, so investing in coal is a weakening guarantee – in the long term your coal investment will lose value.
4. Reduce consumption
This can be split into 4 main categories:
Reduce waste: The average Aussie family throws out $3.5K worth of food each year - that's approximately 1/5 of all their food, or the equivalent 1 in 5 shopping bags full!
To combat this try to use ALL food scraps. Left over roast dinner? Make a soup. Leftover fruit about to go bad? Freeze it or make jam. Try to buy products with as little packaging as possible. My favourite way to do this is shop at bulk food stores where you can take your own jars. For shampoo, conditioner and soap you can also BYO or buy bars (see Lush or Zero Waste Store).
For more inspiration see the ABC's documentary 'War on Waste'. We're going to be writing a blog soon with lots of tips for what you can do with food scraps.
For girls: get a moon cup! A woman will go through over 11,000 disposable sanitary products in her lifetime, spending almost $24,000. These products end up in landfill, in incineration, or in our oceans and on our beaches. Save all that waste with just the 1 cup. We recommend OrganiCup (often have 2 for 1 sales and donate cups to women in developing countries) and Lunette (Australian made & owned).
Reduce unnecessary purchases: shop second-hand or share with friends and family!
One of our favourite ideas: start a dress catalogue with your girl friends so when you're in need of a quirky costume or glamorous gown you're ready to borrow.
Say no to single-use items: this is one of the easiest things to change, especially with all the available alternatives to plastic. Ditch the plastic cutlery, bags, straws and take-away coffee cups. Often this requires specifically asking waiters or supermarket staff 'no straw/bag/cup please', but don't be afraid to do this. Great book to help: How to Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum.
Move towards a plant-based diet: this is the part I struggle with the most, (being raised a butchers daughter) and I'm still working on it. In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report they write that approximately 21-37% of total GHG can be attributed to the global food system: including agriculture and land use, packaging, processing, retail and consumption. The food and agriculture organisation (FAO) of the UN states that the meat and dairy industries are responsible for around 14% of this. This is due to the methane livestock produce but also less visible aspects such as deforestation for livestock feed growing and grazing pastures (remember the bush fires in the amazon..?) Also, they predict that our meat consumption is set to double globally by 2050!
We aren't saying to go completely vegan right now (unless you want to) but we just need to be more mindful about the amount of meat that we consume. If you want to read more check out this article.
We're going to be creating a recipe page where we'll post our own recipes and links to other blogs and pages with amazing vegan and vegetarian recipes.
5. Reduce (stop) flying
Globally, flying makes up 2-3% of carbon emissions and if global aviation was a country it would rank in the top 10 carbon emitters. By 2030 it’s predicted that global aviation will emit more carbon than the entire European Union.
It's important to check which is the most sustainable option; it may not always be what you expect. For example, driving solo Sydney to Melbourne emits 5,500 kg of CO2, the same amount emitted if you had chosen to fly. By comparison, taking the couch emits only 550-1,000 kg.
To calculate your carbon footprint for a journey visit Eco Passenger.
Depending where you are in the world, there are generally good alternatives to flying. Daisy and I have compiled a list of the best transport sites and companies for Australia, and Europe. Check it out here (coming next week!)
Beware of carbon offsetting; airline companies created this option to encourage us to keep living as we do. Carbon offsetting does not stops the CO2 from being emitted. It's more of a 'donation' to the environment that the airline can use to take part in environmental projects eg. tree planting. Whilst this may sound good, it's not a solution to the problem. Triple J's Hack did an excellent segment on the topic.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
This blog was written by guest blogger Bella Charlesworth and copies with her permission from her blog Travelling Without Footprints.