Four ways to fight climate change
What can you personally do against climate change at home? The UN's sustainable development goals are widely known by now but the broad goals are giving little clue about how individuals can contribute. Susanne Søes Hejlsvig and Stine Drøgemüller, the co-founders of Walk the Green Talk, are prepared with hands-on tips that everyone can implement with a pinch of creativity and consciousness.
Action can be taken by individuals
Climate change is a growing issue with increasing attention on it and seriously threatening consequences unless we make big changes. Lately, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg was nominated for Nobel peace prize after initiating school strikes for climate action. There is a growing good intention for a change but less ready-for-action advice on how we can live a more sustainable life. Still, many people feel like they are just small dots on the Earth for making a change. That's exactly where the movement of Walk the Green Talk aims to help.
Susanne and Stine realized that they share an interest in making a change in their everyday lifestyle. They missed a community where they can share tips and ideas on a wide variety of themes, and support all achievements, let it be small or big. "You have to start somewhere."—says Susanne determinedly. Most importantly, not only companies, known organizations or influential people can initiate a change.
"If a 16-year-old could start a world-wide movement, maybe I can do something, too."
Big impact in small steps
Walk the Green Talk is currently a small Facebook community with members based in Aarhus, Denmark. At meetings, they discuss the broad subject of how to fight climate change divided into four approachable categories: food, consumption, home environment and transportation. For each category, Walk the Green Talk recommends very basic tips starting from small habits which can be easily done by anyone to bigger scale changes. The co-founders also show their commitment by sharing their sustainable habits which might require more dedication or investment.
Use transparent containers! Instead of opaque boxes, use transparent glass or plastic containers. Seeing the available options in the fridge helps not to forget about leftovers. For instance, empty jars of marmalade or beetroot can be easily repurposed for food leftovers.
Better weekly planning of meals also helps not to waste ingredients or remainings. If all fails, a compost bin can help out, even available specifically designed for apartments.
A harder step can be reducing, minimizing or even eliminating meat products from the menu—for Susanne, being vegetarian most of her life, this part goes easier than for meat lovers.
When it comes to consumption, it's important to ask ourselves: Do I really need this? To set an example, Susanne committed herself to only buy 5 new things for herself (clothes, shoes, etc) in 2019. So far so good, her count is zero by April.
Even the most conscious climate supporters can end up with things they don't like that much at the end of the day. Try to transform it into something you can actually use!
Reduce single-use plastic items! Do you also have a drawer in your kitchen, filled with different plastic wraps and bags? Reusable alternatives are getting wide-spread on the market, including waxed textile wraps and washable straws.
Is your household environment-conscious? As a rule of thumb: don't use more energy than you actually need—let it be lights, household appliances or entertainment devices.
Water consumption is probably the part that we are the most often reminded about by the water bills at least. To save even more water, Susanne ran ahead and invested in a special shower head. It mixes water with oxygen, thus using less water. It is noisier than a regular one but on the bright side, it keeps the same feeling of water pressure. A more conscious, sustainable lifestyle can also help you spare some money on bills!
Have you explored the surrounding area and countries that you can reach by land transport? While traveling by plane became easily available for many people, the amount of CO2 emission is less considered and closer vacation spots tend to be forgotten. Discover the wonders nearby!
If you take your car on an everyday basis, would it be possible to take public transportation or share your car with locals, heading in the same direction?
As both Walk the Green Talk and ScienceAtHome are based in Denmark where the infrastructure for bicycles is highly developed, we also recommend biking if it's a safe option in your area. Danes find it refreshing to bike to work in the morning and so do our international colleagues! "On sleepy mornings I like coming to work because I can take my bike."—says Carrie Weidner postdoctoral researcher and bike enthusiast from the USA, also ready for a ride in her free time.
Sustainability for an organization
As an organization ourselves, the team of ScienceAtHome is very much interested in transforming everyday habits towards a more sustainable future. Following the example of Walk the Green Talk, community spirit and support is the key. Climate supporters can show the way and share ideas in a positive manner while also being prepared for some opposition. Could you share some ideas with your local community or co-workers? If the nearest community is not opened for a change, cross-department or even cross-organizational effort can be a good solution. Making a change alone is hard but with the support of a community, the change becomes a source of joy and pride.
Stopping climate change is a shared interest and now is the time for action. As a research group, ScienceAtHome would like to both raise attention and implement small changes in our everyday office life. Let us know which practical tips do you find the most useful and feasible in your life! Comment below or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photo credit: Kasper Hornbæk