What can we change right now to live more sustainably?

woman holding tree, building a sustainable brand

Article by Jo Hand, co-founder of Giki

There’s less than a month to go until the eyes of the world are on the UK as leaders come together for COP26 climate talks.

This could be one of the last chances that politicians have to step up and take the global action needed to stop the climate crisis getting any worse. As host nation of COP, and historic burner of fossil fuels for hundreds of years, the UK has a key role to play in curbing the climate crisis.

While the bigger system change we need (like a green transport revolution and full move away from fossil fuels) needs to be led by governments, there’s plenty we can all do to live more sustainably. And this isn’t just about us reassuring ourselves that we’re making a small difference – many of the choices we make collectively can have a huge impact on nature and the environment.

What you eat

A great place to start making your daily life more climate friendly is to think about what you eat and begin cutting carbon as soon as your next meal. Switching to a plant-based diet can cut your food footprint in half.

To get more plants in your diet, try making a few simple swaps. Go for veggie sausages and burgers, give not-chicken nuggets a go, or grab a carton of oat milk instead of cow’s milk.

From there you can move onto eating a no-meat meal on a regular basis – why not commit to meat-free Mondays? Before you know it you may be ready to try a longer period of time with no meat.

How you get around

Changing your transport habits may seem like a tough nut to crack, but you can make some big carbon cuts pretty easily.

Many of the car journeys we make are under a mile, so why not try swapping one of these for a walk (or a bike ride). If you can, walking for the school run can be a good one to try once or twice a week to get started.  

When you do have to get in the car, by accelerating more gently, driving a bit slower, and not idling in traffic you’ll be emitting significantly less carbon.

Around the home

The way we power and heat our homes can have a big impact on the planet. As we get towards autumn and winter it’s important to be as efficient as we can. The easiest way to do this is simply to turn your thermostat down a degree or two. Doing this will save on your heating bills and make a big cut to your carbon emissions.

Other quick wins in the home include making sure lights and appliances are off when you’re not in the room and putting a sheet of foil behind radiators to increase efficiency.

It’s also worth giving your home a little more draft proofing. Draft excluders for doors and windows are a great place to start.

Keeping it going

Once you’ve started making changes to your daily life, you’ll find yourself gaining momentum on your journey to help save the planet. Some more things you can think about for longer term change include checking the money in your bank account isn’t being used to fund companies which are destructive to the climate.  and you can also look at your pension provider to check they invest in a way that fits with your values. You can also start to use your voice to talk to those around you about how you’re trying to help the planet and to encourage your friends, family, workmates, and employer to make more sustainable choices too.

Why not give Giki Zero a try to track how much carbon you’re cutting with each change you make, and to get more hints and tips on what to do next?

Let’s all get involved in the fight against the climate crisis and show those in charge that we want climate action now!

About the author

Jo Hand featuredJo Hand is a social entrepreneur and carbon footprint specialist on a mission to help people live more sustainably. In 2017 Jo co-founded Giki, a social enterprise that helps everyone understand and reduce the environmental impacts of their lifestyle.  

Giki’s online tool helps people tackle the root causes of their environmental impact by helping them understand, track and reduce their carbon footprint with personalised steps to plan out their path to net zero​. A core part of Giki’s offering is Giki Zero Pro, a full employee engagement tool to help companies engage employees on sustainability, help staff build knowledge and take action together and provide data to report on impact. 

Before setting up Giki with her husband James, Jo was previously the first woman on the executive Board at CDP, a climate change charity where she was Head of Partnerships. Before that she spent ten years working as a journalist in current affairs at the BBC and Channel 4. 

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