More information about REDUCE, RECYCLE, REMOVE.
We in the West and in the middle to high income groups all over the globe (from China to Brazil, from Australia to Siberia) produce almost all of the GHGs that are so disastrous for our planet. Check out the energy footprint of a typical west-European family!
Fortunately, there are many very simple ways (and a few hardly more difficult ones) where WE can reduce and remove GHG-emissions whilst our politicians, that are supposed to represent us, argue until the damage is irreversible. The initiatives are grouped under the 3Rs: Reduce, Remove and the powerful concept of Recycle (Refreeze can only be achieved through international scientific cooperation). They are further categorized as Bronze (Bravo! YOU are underway), Silver (YOU are making a difference), Gold (if all of us implement the Gold standard, we will win the race against global warming!).
NB. We understand that, depending on the options available in your local area, our suggestions may deviate from how we have classified them, ranging from 'bronze' to 'gold,' on a personal level.
Bronze: save the planet by instantly saving loads of money!
- Turn off lights and unplug or switch-off electronics completely when they are not in use to save energy.
- Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs (LED) to reduce your energy bill.
- Reduce your water usage by taking shorter showers; limit taking a bath to a treat.
- Use a clothesline or drying rack instead of a tumble dryer; tumble driers are horrible energy consumers!
- Always run your appliance to reduce power consumption: only boil the water you need in a kettle (it makes such a difference!), only run dishwashers and washing machines when they are full (they can take a week to fill-up), try to run your appliances at night when electricity prices are lowest (most appliances have timers).
- Use a fan instead of airco until it becomes uncomfortably hot.
- When airco becomes necessary, set the temperature at 26-27C and use airco in combination with fans (fans efficiently mix hot and cold air, dramatically reducing the need to cool).
- Reduce food waste by planning meals and only buying what you need; resist the temptation of take-away food (you will be surprised how much money you save and how much better you feel)
- Reduce your usage of single-use plastics e.g., bring your own shopping bag to the supermarket, use a reusable coffee mug instead of disposable cups, do not use plastic cutlery and plates at parties, etc.
- Buy fewer clothes! Cotton needs so much water and pesticides; synthetics are made out of fossil fuels; instant fashion is a disaster for the planet.
Silver: move to the next level without having to make any sacrifices
- When buying new appliances, make sure they are energy-efficient (check the energy label!); newer appliances are nowadays also easier to repair: check it out!
- Use a programmable thermostat to regulate your home's temperature and save energy.
- Support renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Choose an energy supplier that does NOT burn fossil fuels to provide energy.
- Reduce your water usage by fixing leaks and using water-efficient appliances e.g., low-flow showerheads and faucets.
- Try using public transportation, walking, or biking instead of using the car; electric bikes are a fantastic means of transportation around the neighbourhood.
- Try to carpool when you go to work.
- In season, buy locally produced goods and produce (e.g., from local farms) to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation.
- Reduce your meat consumption, as meat production is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (meat is hard to cut out of the diet; therefore set targets: reduce meat consumption - including chicken! – to twice a week, then once a week, and then perhaps to special occasions)
Gold: with tiny sacrifices you might very well be saving the planet
- Insulate your house (one of the most cost-effective decisions you will ever make). In blocks of flats, the house-owner associations should share the cost of insulation.
- In hot climates, install solar panels on the roof to generate hot water; everywhere: install photovoltaic panels on the roof to generate electricity. In blocks of flats, the house-owner associations should share the cost of installation.
- Replace your appliances by energy-efficient ones to reduce your energy consumption (only if your appliances are very old and you use them often).
- Rip out the gas boiler and install a heat-pump (that uses freon R32 which is 10x times friendlier to the planet than other freon gases); in warm climates, heat pumps can also provide cooling if the house is fitted with fancoils.
- Become a vegetarian of flexitarian; for those transitioning away from meat, it really helps that plant-based hamburgers/ sausages/ minced meat/ shawarma/ gyros/ kebab etc… are becoming increasingly tasty and… much cheaper than meat!
- Go on a holiday by train, bus, or car instead of by plane, as planes are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (on top of that, planes produce damaging high-altitude contrails that reflect heat back to Earth!); at least, always carefully consider wether flying really makes sense; in many countries high-speed railway links – which are amazingly energy-efficient and produce no contrails - are now competing with air traffic; unfortunately they are often still more expensive than flights: make the effort and tilt the balance in favour of the railway!
- Use reusable bags, water bottles, and containers instead of single-use plastic ones.
- Compost food scraps and yard waste instead of sending them to the landfill.
- Donate or sell unwanted items instead of throwing them away to reduce waste and extend the life of the products.
- Separate your waste (glass, plastics, paper, metal, green waste, etc.).
- Recycle paper, plastic, glass, and metal to reduce waste and conserve resources.
- Organise a local activity to pick up trash in your neighbourhood and recycle everything you found.
- Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones to reduce waste.
- Use refillable ink cartridges for printers instead of disposable ones to reduce waste.
- Use recycled materials in your home or office, such as recycled paper or furniture made from reclaimed wood.
- Start buying second-hand; at first you might feel uncomfortable but as you get more confident, you will be amazed at the money you save and… the planet you save.
Bronze (isn’t that amazingly simple?)
- Put plant pots with shrubs or flowers on your balcony, in your garden, and all around your neighbourhood.
Silver: move to the next level without having to make any sacrifices
- Replace some/all tiles in your garden with shrubs, flowers, or trees.
- Create a vegetable and fruit garden.
- Support organisations that work to preserve and protect the environment financially or as a volunteer.
- Support reforestation efforts in your area by volunteering or donating to organizations that plant trees.
Gold: with tiny investments in time and money you might very well be saving the planet
- Install a ‘green roof’ (sedum roof) on your house or shed (and that of your neighbours).
- Support sustainable agriculture practices that help reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere; let us be blunt: industrial animal farming which produces 90% of our dairy and meat is ravaging the planet; it has no place in a warming world; by carefully choosing what meat we buy, we can make it go.
- Support organizations that work to protect and restore coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, as they absorb large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.
- Use carbon offset programs to invest in projects that remove CO2 from the atmosphere, such as reforestation projects.
These are just a few examples of the many bronze-to-gold things you can do to make a positive impact on the environment. Every small action helps!