Climate Change: Consumer responsibilities and activities in reducing our negative impact on the world
The topic currently on everyone’s lips (and quite rightly so) is the impact that our actions are having on the environment. With carbon emissions causing harmful greenhouse gasses, increasing the rate of global warming and irreversibly changing ecosystems, it has never been more important for us as a species to act more responsibly and ensure that, as consumers, we are conscious of our actions.
We are faced with the term ‘Global Warming’ almost daily. With climate protests taking place all over the world, and in the midst of what is perhaps one of the most important calls to attention that mankind has faced, what is it that is making more people wake up and realise that climate change is a very significant threat.
Climate change is real
Factual evidence of climate change continues to grow. NASA highlight global temperatures rising as one of the main indicators of climate change. They note that the earth’s average surface temperature has increased by about 1.62°F (0.9°C) since the late 19th Century, mainly due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other man-made gasses in the atmosphere.
Global warming has accelerated considerably over the last 35 years and this increase in temperature has caused changes to oceanic acidity, a marked reduction in Arctic sea ice and the rising of global sea levels. Natural processes of handling carbon dioxide usually completed by plants and trees are being impeded due to deforestation. The planet is struggling to breathe!
This doesn’t only impact humans, but also the wildlife we share our planet with. There has been a drastic decline in the populations of many species, as many head inexorably towards extinction.
Some quarters argue that minor, incremental changes won’t have the required impact. However, small changes today can result in significant advancements further down the line. What can we do to be more environmentally friendly as consumers?
Upcycling and repurposing
Buying new furniture for our homes often makes us feels good and can make an impactful visual change. However, there are many benefits to be found in upcycling and repurposing old furniture and household trimmings. With ‘recycled’ and ‘upcycled’ furniture being very in-vogue, you can be trendy and help to reduce your own environmental impact. Re-using furniture means that factory and production processes for the creation of new items are reduced.
We’re not all DIY specialists. However, there are many online tutorials out there (check youtube) which show you how to expertly repurpose household items. Whether it’s using that empty jam jar to store spare change or reusing gift bags rather than buying another, you can save money whilst saving the planet.
Packaging for packaging’s sake
We’ve all bought goods that come ‘over-packaged’, leaving us with excessive amounts of card, paper, plastic and polystyrene.
Since 2014, the UK Government has placed additional responsibilities on companies classified as ‘obligated packaging producers’, meaning that any company that supplies packaging has certain requirements they are required to meet in terms of recycling and recovery of packaging materials to continue operating legally.
As consumers, we can reduce the amount of packaging we are exposed to by avoiding products that are wrapped in unnecessary layers of packaging and by recycling packaging from items that we buy.
Any equipment left on standby uses more energy than you think! Home Energy Scotland, part of the Energy Savings Trust, estimate that savings of £30 per year could be made by switching electrical equipment and appliances off from standby mode.
They recommend checking to ensure that appliances will not be impacted by switching them off at the plug. However, modern equipment is not usually impacted by doing this.
There are other things that can be done to reduce energy consumption, helping to save you money, whilst having a positive impact upon the world around you. For more information on energy efficiency, you can visit Home Energy Scotland here.
Plastic and the environment
National Geographic estimate that 91% of plastic is not recycled. There have been billions of tonnes of plastic produced over the last decade, the majority of which ends up in the sea. This has a profound impact on the environment, wreaking havoc on the delicate ecosystems of animals and plant life.
So, what can we do? Avoiding ‘single-use’ plastics by using refillable water bottles can help to reduce the amount of plastic passing through your life, as well as the amount of money that you spend.
Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to CO2 emissions. Although emissions of CO2 were estimated to have reduced by approximately 8.9% between the years 2000 and 2015, cars and the emissions of CO2 continue cast an impact upon climate change and global warming.
There are several things that we can do as consumers to reduce our contribution to these emissions, such as car-sharing where possible, using public transport or even walking to our destination when we can.
Sometimes, even starting a conversation is the best way of making a positive change to the world. At consumeradvice.scot we try to do this everyday through empowering consumers to make informed decisions, know their rights and understand the legal and procedural decisions behind them. The impacts that our actions have on the environment also need to be considered before it is too late, and sometimes this involves rethinking the ways in which we operate as consumers and changing for the better.
consumeradvice.scot have put together our top tips on ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint and slow global warming and climate change –
- Repurpose old items – Upcycling is the new… new
Remember that everything old can be made new. Sometimes the most creative and original gifts and household items are spruced up versions of their formal selves.
- Petty packaging
It’s great to get something shiny and new but consider if the endless amount of cellophane and card is really worth the environmental impact. If the amount of wrapping can’t be helped, recycle it!
- Standby is expensive (and wasteful)
Leaving your TV and other household gadgets on standby, instead of switching them off at the plug not only wastes energy and money. If you can, switch it off at the source.
- Single-use plastics aren’t fantastic!
Single-use plastics are causing irreparable damage to our oceans. Always try to use alternatives, such as a refillable water bottle.
- Think about transport…carefully!
When travelling alone in the car, consider if this is necessary. Use public transport or ‘car-pooling’ for work and you will can help reduce carbon emissions whilst improving your mental and physical health.
If you would like more advice on any consumer matter, you can contact consumeradvice.scot on 0808 164 6000. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. You can follow us on social media – Twitter: @advicedotscot and Facebook at www.facebook.com/advice.scot, Instagram: @advice.scot, or get ahead by visiting our knowledge centre at www.consumeradvice.scot.