By Anders Lorenzen
2019 has just kicked into gear, and thus it is the season for looking at your goals for the coming year and what you want to do differently.
As 2018 has documented, our planet is in danger and could do with us prioritising it this year. Here are the most important changes you can make for the sake of the planet in 2019.
1 – Go vegan
There has never been a better time to ditch animal products. If you thought 2018 was the year that veganism went mainstream, then just wait and see what 2019 has in store. Supermarkets and restaurants have finally started to take this issue seriously, with tons of new products landing on supermarket shelves. If going vegan is a bit too drastic for you, then the science says that even making moderate changes in cutting down your meat and dairy consumption can bring emission reductions and environmental protection.
2 – Cut down on flying
Aviation is believed to be responsible for the fastest growth of CO2 emissions. New airports are opening around the world, and more and more people are emerging from poverty and are able to fly. This is troubling, as the world lacks any credible solution to reducing emissions from aviation. As we recently reported, in Sweden a growing number of people have committed not to fly for the whole year. That might be too much for most people, but if we were to cut down as well as offset flying in other ways, it would have a meaningful impact.
3 – Change how you shop
The way we shop has a huge impact on emissions. Shopping does, of course, come in many shapes and sizes. Globally the fashion industry is one of the most polluting and climate-damaging industries in the world. Due to the huge energy and water footprint of just producing one t-shirt, the very best thing is to only buy second-hand items. The second-best thing is to consume responsibly and to evaluate how much clothing you really need. If you have items sitting around in your cupboards you don’t really need, give them to charity.
And when you do need new things, it matters where you buy them. A whole new range of fashion brands has emerged, brands which address sustainability as their core mission. The second tier to this is to try to limit the mileage on the items you buy. Whenever possible try to buy local. In a globalised economy, buying locally can be challenging, but at least try to understand where your products come from and decide if you’re happy with that. If you buy stuff online, try to remember that to buy a handful of items and then send them back because you don`t like them, means more transport which adds to your carbon footprint and requires more energy.
4 – Let your money speak
There’s a popular myth, and it is a myth, that we as individuals do not have much power. That it is all these big companies that are responsible for the planetary crisis. But that is to downplay your power and responsibility as a consumer and a citizen. If enough people put their money where their mouths are, we could achieve monumental change. You can start by putting all your investments into ISA’s that only invest sustainably. You can then divest unethical stock, shares and bonds. Change your bank to one that does not invest in fossil fuel companies and other companies that destroy the environment. And not least change your pension fund to one that only invests in green companies.
5 – Green your home
This is a no-brainer. Whether you are renting or owning a home do as much as you can to green your home. That involves anything from investing in energy efficiency, installing solar panels on the roof, and installing efficient lighting such as LED lights.
6 – Help protect nature
Instead of buying pointless consumerist products that society tells us we need in order to be happy, how about only buying things that really matter? For example, buying `nature` in order to protect it, like old virgin forests, rainforests or sensitive environmental regions. Additionally, donate to organisations that work to do just that or, in other words, environmental non-profits.
7 – Volunteer
Whatever causes or activity that suits you, use any free time you have to help such causes. That can be anything from beach clean-up activities, tree planting, or joining a campaign to raise awareness about certain issues.
8 – Ditch plastic
If anything big happened in 2018 it was the fact that the world finally opened up its eyes to the plastic epidemic. So let 2019 be the year when you try to live a plastic-free life. This can start with easy small steps such as taking a reusable bag to the supermarket and the shops, not buying anything that is wrapped in plastic. Once you have done everything to eliminate plastic from your life, then spread the word.
9 – Holiday responsibly
As mentioned earlier, try as much as possible to reduce flying from your life. That does not mean you can’t go on holiday. First, try to look at the options for taking the train, or look at travel options locally. And if you do go abroad, try to support destinations that invest in sustainable tourism initiatives. Then tell everyone what you did and promote it on social media.
10 – Talk about climate change and the environment
Even though it seems that the tide is turning, too many people do not care enough to make a difference in tackling climate change and protecting the environment. So tell your family, friends and colleagues what you do and why it is important. Make it an everyday topic, just like when you talk about the weather, and sports and culture.
These are all steps you can take to live a greener 2019.