There are many ways that we can get active in our own lives Most of us are very busy but we can make time for things we consider most important. The choices we make, the products we buy - all of these can have a small impact on climate change. Small changes in our habits and purchasing practices can sometimes make a big difference - and big changes can make a significant difference!
Depending on how much time you have, there are a number of different actions you can take, both as a household and individiually. In addition, many actions to reduce our impact on the environment can also save money at the same time - though some choices may require some financial investment. This next decade will be critical to whether or not humankind will avoid catastrophic climate change, so it’s important that as many of us gets involved as is humanly possible!
See also resources for individual lifestyle choices.
Going “green” for householders
Cool lifestyle practices that will save you money
- Walk or use public transport or a bike, rather than your car, when possible.
- Buy a fuel-efficient small car rather than one with a larger engine and rid your car of any unnecessary weight.
- Drive smoothly at moderate speeds - driving fast uses more fuel.
- Avoid plane travel if it isn’t actually necessary.
- Avoid bottled water; tap water is safe to drink in Australia and large amounts of energy and water are used to manufacture bottled water.
- Re-use the blank side of paper, use recycled paper and photocopy on both sides.
- Have meat-free meals some of the time. Producing 1kg of beef results in more CO2 emissions than going for a three-hour drive while leaving all the lights on at home.
- Boil only the amount of water you need for tea or coffee.
- Only use the washing machine and dish-washer when you have enough for a full load, and use the energy-saving settings.
- Wear clothes until they are actually dirty; don’t wash after every wear.
- Hang clothes on a clothes line rather than use a dryer.
- Use air conditioning sparingly. When using, move the thermostat down one degree in winter and up one degree in summer.
- Clean or replace filters in the air conditioners.
- When buying appliances, go for the energy efficient models. For example, front-loading washing machines are more efficient than top-loaders.
- Switch off / un-plug air conditioners, TV’s, mobile phone chargers, heaters and lights except when they are in immediate use. Don’t leave appliances in “stand-by” mode.
- If you use both a freezer and a fridge, adapt to using only the freezer compartment in your fridge, and disconnect the separate freezer.
Cool lifestyle practices that initially cost money
- Put vegetable waste on a compost heap or in a worm farm, rather than in the garbage where it will eventually produce methane.
- Take action to stop water leakages. This isn't so much to prevent climate change but to ensure our collective ability to adapt to it long-term. You can work out how much water is leaking from your taps and toilets, through this handy Canadian calculator: Water Waste Calculator It tells you how much is lost daily.
- Arrange a home Energy Audit and follow the recommendations given.
- Replace any incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents. CFLs use 60 - 70% less energy than a regular bulb.
- Switch to 100% accredited Green Power. Compare providers here.
- Install solar water heaters – up to 30% of household electricity is used to heat tap water and solar water heaters pay themselves off in around 10 years.
- Install grid connected solar panels on your rooftop.
- Insulate your walls and ceilings and draught-proof doors and windows.
- Buy a hybrid car rather than a conventional one.
Going “green” for individuals
- The single most important thing that most of us can do is to ensure that our money is invested ethically - read more.
Join with others
- Participate in Earth Hour, World Environment Day rallies, and so on.
- Join an online climate action network such as GetUp, Avaaz, Oxfam’s climate change campaign, 350.org so that you can send e-mails and sign petitions at key times.
- Join an existing Climate Action Group in your area.
- Start a church environment group.
- Join ARRCC or the Faith Ecology Network or other faith-based action group.
- Financially support ARRCC, Pacific Calling Partnership, Greenpeace, or the like. By employing talented campaigners, these are able to co-ordinate and resource community action.
Get others involved
- Host a workshop, with a guest speaker or film such as “Sisters on the Planet” (obtainable from Oxfam Australia), to inform members of your community and perhaps generate an active involvement.
- Write to your local Member of Parliament.
- Visit your local MP, preferably with concerned others from your electorate.
- Write a piece for your parish newsletter on your Church’s theology around climate change.