The season of sustainability

With Rotherham Climate Action

The temperature might be dropping outside, but the earth is warming faster than ever before. Before you turn up the thermostat this winter, think about how you could show the planet a little love with simple eco-friendly practices.

These are a few tips to reduce our environmental footprint over the winter months.

Home improvements

According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), 40 percent of UK emissions come from households, a large proportion of that being from burning gas for heating and hot water.

Switching to renewable power sources – those from natural resources such as solar, wind and hydro – is one way to help and it is not necessarily more expensive than standard fossil fuel energy.

Energy proof your home by sealing cracks where air can get in, adding extra layers to windows with blinds or curtains, and consider reinsulating your house if need be. Throws and blankets are great for snuggly nights in and an extra jumper or dressing gown will help take the chill off without heating the entire house.

Food for thought

Adapting our food habits is the single most important way to reduce our individual environmental impact. And, with a bit of planning and determination, it’s also very easy to stick to.

Doing just the one weekly food shop could help reduce the chance of over-buying items you don’t really need. Do a stock take before you leave home and think of ingredients that could be used in multiple meals to reduce waste. Over 10 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK each year. That’s before plastic packaging is added to the mix.

Meat and dairy production accounts for almost 15 percent of climate changing gases (more than all forms of transport) so going meat-free just one day a week could help reduce this. If you do buy meat, try and choose organic or free-range produce and help small scale farmers.

Lots of farm shops, greengrocers and larger chains now offer fruit and veg box deliveries, as well as wonky items that would usually be thrown away. The produce is usually fresher, more seasonal and has less packaging.

Meal subscription boxes also help reduce waste because they include the right amount of products per meal. Some items such as cupboard staples may be better to buy in bulk as it saves on packaging and production emissions.

Fast fashion

The fashion industry – particularly fast fashion – has come under fire over recent years for their harmful production methods, such as the sourcing of raw materials, manufacturing, production, transport, washing and disposal. Avoid the urge to buy everything new; could old items be re-loved, re-styled and re-worn? If they’re open, visit your local charity shops to see what fashion finds they have in stock as you may come across some timeless designer bargains.

Tights are a winter staple for most women, but their disposable nature makes them a problematic piece when it comes to being environmentally friendly.

They’re made from nylon yarn – a petrol-based product – which is far from natural as nitrous oxide is released into the atmosphere during production, a greenhouse gas more harmful than CO2. Due to their synthetic makeup, tights cannot be recycled so are likely to end up in landfill, but even when you put your tights into the washing machine, they release microplastics into the water.

The best way to help the planet is to stay informed. Spend some time looking into where different materials come from and process behind them rather than just buying products in the moment.

Christmas shouldn’t cost the earth

The planet might not be at the top of your Christmas list, but it desperately needs your help. By making a few swaps or cutbacks, together we can make a big difference.

Buy second-hand or sustainable gifts where you can and try to avoid companies you know aren’t eco-friendly. If you do buy online, be mindful about delivery and returns as this can lead to high energy consumption. Consolidate orders and try to avoid buying from too many different retailers.

Not in a rush? Choose standard delivery rather than express/next day as this allows parcels to be transported on full-loaded lorries. Consider collecting from store or a pick-up-point if convenient. Avoid missing deliveries as this costs time and money to transport goods back and forth.

Also, think about plastic packaging your gifts come in. We throw out around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging on Christmas day alone. That’s before wrapping paper which usually contains a lot of plastic. Why not swap to simple brown paper this year with handmade decorations. Most houses will have a bag of carrier bags, but what about a bag of gift bags? Reuse ones gifted to you where you can. Same goes for cards. Paper waste from Christmas could fuel a bus to the moon 20 times over; so, why not send e-cards this year. Remember the days you’d cut up old Christmas cards to make next year’s gift tags?

If you love having a real Christmas tree, make sure you recycle it once the festive season has ended. Lots of local charities offer a collection and recycling service for a small donation. Trees are chipped or shredded and used as compost or mulch for parks and woodlands.

Support climate change locally

Most of all, take the time to recuperate, reconnect with nature, and support yourself and those close to you over Christmas. For 2021, why not get involved in your local Climate Action group. Find out more about Rotherham Climate Action on Facebook or Instagram or read oure previous post about the group here.