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Tackling climate change on a personal level is now common to all of us. Exploring new ways to live and working out the benefits from the different actions we might take, can be complicated. The Sustainable Me poster aims to help all of us to continue that journey together and provides lots of small steps and challenges which can reduce our carbon emissions and keep our world beautiful.
We will all find some things easier than others, and there will be some things we just are not able to do at all and that’s fine. There is no guilt or judgment here – just the big cheer when we succeed.
Roughly twenty per cent of our carbon emissions are produced in our homes. Adapting our houses to make use of natural resources, whilst saving the energy used, creates the ultimate sustainable living space. Getting to grips with our energy usage to start having control over the amount we are using is a good place to start and helps to reduce bills at the same time. All energy suppliers will provide a ‘Smart meter’ if asked. Other energy providers supply energy from renewable sources which reduce the negative impact on the environment. There is plenty of information online to help you choose. Keeping the home well insulated will again save tremendous amounts of energy.
Heaps of text can be found with a quick search online about how to do travel more sustainably. But here are some resources that really seem to work.
A carbon footprint for an ‘average’ Marlovian has been estimated: air travel makes up over 20%, car use more than another 10%. This big chunk of carbon can be enjoyably reduced by choosing active travel – foot or bike – and public transport, more often. And by combining these ways you can get almost anywhere, meet like-minded people and become healthier.
Walking – so how to take the first steps? If you want to go very far, you’ll need some solid footwear. Check out the Ramblers advice page for how to find good footwear (plus a lot of other useful info about navigation for anyone who hasn’t been a Scout). Once kitted-up you’re good for thousands of miles of footpaths in the UK alone. With ambition, try walking a few of the six-hundred miles of the South West Coast Path.
Cycling can be both a way to get around town when you want to without having to get use of a car, and a sporty way to see the countryside. If you want to try one of the new range of multi-use (and even electric) bikes, visit Saddle Safari. Plan your route using cycle.travel or the Bikemap app. If you want to make your own cycling holiday or find a package, browse Stanfords or Radreisen for guides and route plans to the area that interests you.
Trains Of course, Marlow station is very basic, but the rail connection at Maidenhead provides frequent services between Reading and London – and so to all parts of UK and via Eurostar to anywhere in Europe! It really is possible to get to any European destination (even islands like Corsica) without boarding a flight. There’s everything you might want to know about long-distance train travel at Seat61 (and if what you want to know isn’t there, just post a question) or Rail.cc. European timetables, routes and tickets can be found on e.g. RailEurope or Trainline.
Night trains. There are a growing number of long-distance overnight trains running all over the world, even in the UK to Scotland or Cornwall. There are various sorts of accommodation from plain seat to couchette to private two-person cabins. These trains save hotel costs and get you into your next destination in time for a local breakfast.
A quarter of the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change come from food. From this, meat accounts for 40 percent. The more we extend our plant-based meals the better it is for the planet. Introducing veggie meals every week can be a good step in the right direction. Sourcing organic and locally produced meat can prove to be expensive, but there is plenty of evidence to show that the nutrition in these meats is considerably higher, so eating the best meats occasionally is better than eating poor meat all the time. The book Food and Climate Change without the hot air, by Sarah Bridle can help us on this part of our sustainability journey (or watch her 15 minute TEDxManchester talk). We also recommend the Game Changers movie.
There is growing evidence that ‘simplicity in life’ is not only good for our health but it also supports our personal levels of sustainability. The keeping it simple section is about lifestyle choices which make a difference. In affluent areas, a whopping quarter of all green-house gas emissions come from consumption, rendering the decisions we make about our purchases very important.
When we measure our carbon footprint we can see how simple decisions in life can lead to greater sustainability. For example, the less we buy, the less needs to be produced. If we buy something that can only be used once, such as plastic packaging, the cost to the environment is high in terms of carbon used in production and landfill waste.
We are trying to avoid impulse buys and gathering things we do not really need. There are many sustainable clothing companies offering beautiful garments, along with plenty of options for buying sustainable gifts and goods, which make treats even more special. Sharing household tools and garden equipment with neighbours and friends (or strangers) is a great way to reduce the quantity of stuff in our lives. Quality second-hand goods can also be found in charity shops or look (and donate) on Freecycle.
A Repair Cafe is also useful to give older items a new lease of life. Refill shops – like Seed1 and FourState in Marlow, are great for eco-shopping. Not only do you get high quality, often organic produce, whose provenance has been carefully checked, but you also take your own empty jars, bottles and containers and avoid any excess packaging in the process
Changing our shopping habits to green consumerism, is a simple way to become more sustainable.