As the end of the year approaches, we raise the question: what's happened to your intentions to adopt a more climate-friendly lifestyle? Not done so much yet? Read on! Already on a good path? Perfect! Maybe you will find some further inspiration in the following. Here we want to share some of our top tips for making small changes that have big environmental impact.
2014 was a big year for climate action. In September, thousands of people took to the streets in over 160 countries to call for climate-friendly policies worldwide. Two of the biggest CO2 emitters, the USA and China, also recently stated their desire (at least) to reduce emissions.
The average number of plastic bags used per person in the EU per year is 191. Household energy consumption in countries like the Netherlands and Germany is around 162 Gigajoules (GJ) and 174 (GJ) respectively. Cars contribute 12 percent of the EU's carbon dioxide emissions.
The numbers can be daunting. As individuals, it can be difficult to see how our actions can make a dent. But they can. Take transport for example. One adage that is oft bandied about is to ditch the car in favour of the bicycle where possible. But, apart from getting us out into the fresh air, what real impact can one person riding their bike instead of driving a car have on the environment? A 2011 study carried out by the European Cycling Federation compared carbon emissions from a bicycle (including manufacturing) to motorised vehicles and found that for every passenger kilometre travelled by bike, 21 grams of carbon were released as opposed to 271 grams for someone riding or driving in a car and 101 grams for people taking the bus.
If I break those numbers down and apply them personally, my eight kilometre bike ride to work every day means I save 2000 grams of carbon dioxide each way simply by not driving or getting a lift to work. In a week, I save over 20 kilograms of CO2 and over the course of a month, I save around 80 kilos of carbon dioxide. I'm lucky enough to live somewhere with good cycling infrastructure making my commute relatively painless and more eco-friendly than driving a car.
Reducing Our Individual Footprint, One Step at a Time
Small, everyday actions make a difference and collectively, these can have a big effect on our carbon footprint. This week, we'll be presenting you a 'best of' of sorts – our favourite tricks and easy starter points to help reduce plastic; save on individual energy consumption; cut down on emissions when using transport; and where and how to source ethically-produced gifts ('tis the season after all). We gathered together tips that are easy and quick to implement.
Feel Like Doing More Good?
Donations, volunteering, gift-giving – this is the season to give back. You don't necessarily have to 'give until it hurts' (although if you want to follow Mother Teresa's advice, more power to you). Even the smallest contributions goes a long way. By donating to one of RESET's partner projects, you can help children improve their computer literacy skills in parts of Africa; help bring renewable, affordable power to villages in east Africa; or donate to RESET direct. 100 percent of your contribution will go to its intended project – we accept no intermediary fees.
Check out our projects page for more info and stay tuned throughout the week for ways to shrink your footprint.
All the tips from our week-long editorial special can be found here: Small Steps, Big Impact