With everything going on in the world right now, it’s easy to forget the other global catastrophe that is in motion. For several decades now, global warming has been an increasingly significant threat to the future of our planet, but in recent months the coronavirus pandemic has understandably been at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
But climate change isn’t going away, and unlike almost everything else in the world, hasn’t been deterred by this deadly virus. Temperatures are getting out of control, sea levels are rising, and green government policies have so far done very little to reduce the quantity of harmful greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere. Much more needs to be done to combat this threat, and it is ultimately up to governments and large industries to take the actions that will make the biggest difference.
As an individual, it may seem as if there is little you can do to reverse global warming. But if everyone on the planet were to make small changes to their daily lives, these efforts would add up to an enormous leap in the right direction. One of the most meaningful resolutions you can make in the new year is to make more environmentally conscious decisions. And you can do this in every aspect of your life from eating to shopping to doing housework.
If you want to make a difference next year, here are four ways you can save the planet in 2021.
Eat Less Meat
The meat industry is by far the greatest polluter on the planet. The agriculture required to feed the entire planet uses monumental quantities of water, causes mass deforestation and destruction, and releases vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the air. The most effective individual action you can take is to stop eating meat. Many people might balk at the idea of cutting out sausages and bacon from their diet, but there are so many delicious plant-based alternatives to meat nowadays that it is easier than ever. Foodstuffs like Quorn and tofu mean it is simple to incorporate sufficient levels of protein into your diet without having to worry about getting the right nutritional balance.
And if going cold turkey on your Christmas turkey is too much to bear, don’t feel that this is an all-or-nothing matter. You can still make a big difference by reducing the amount of meat you consume. Some people have opted to celebrate Meat-Free Mondays, whereby they adopt a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet on the first day of the week and then continue as normal for the following six days. Alternatively, you could take the increasingly common approach of going vegan before 6 pm. Your breakfast and lunch will consist of plant-based products, while you can enjoy whatever meal you choose for your dinner. This takes off a lot of the pressure and makes it easier for you to stick to your herbivorous goals.
The second biggest environmental contribution you can make is to stop flying. One trans-Atlantic flight alone releases 0.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide per passenger, and aviation numbers are set to increase to 8.7 billion by 2037. Commercial flights changed the world by making it easy for anyone to travel to any location in the world, but the pollution they have generated is astronomical. Next time you start planning your annual summer vacation, think twice before you book those cheap airline tickets. Consider traveling to a destination you can reach by train, car, or boat instead. The world is vast, and you will never get close to seeing it all in your lifetime, so you don’t need to fly halfway around the planet to enjoy new experiences and cultures. Opt for a trip slightly closer to home, and you’ll be helping to slow the effects of global warming.
Buy Eco-Friendly Gifts
We live in an incredibly consumerist society. Advertising tells us we need to own all the latest gadgets and wear the trendiest clothes in order to fit in. Material goods are seen as a sign of status and success, and it’s for this reason you see lines of consumers camping outside the Apple store for the latest iPhone. Christmas and birthday gifts reflect these materialistic ambitions, and each year, so much stuff is bought and discarded. Don’t add to these wasteful statistics by buying presents that impact the environment and end up collecting dust in a wardrobe.
Instead, make an effort to buy gifts that are both useful and low-impact. One of the best ways to do this is by gifting experiences as presents, rather than physical goods. This could include concert tickets, spa breaks, or adventurous activities like skydives and bungee jumps. You could even gift a charity donation to an organization your loved one is passionate about. Although it may not be the most exciting gift idea, buying someone useful items will ensure they get used and don’t end up being forgotten by the time New Year’s Day rolls around. Everyone needs underwear, so check out the Undywear official website for some good value deals, or surprise your loved one with some kitchenware or new power tools.
In households across the country, a colossal amount of waste is thrown away each day. Uneaten food and unnecessary packaging are the main offenders. In 2021, try to reduce the amount of rubbish you and your family throw out. One of the best ways to achieve this is to only buy the food that you need. Don’t go grocery shopping without a plan. Instead, make a list of meals for the week and only buy the ingredients you need. This will reduce the amount of food that expires in your fridge.
Try also to only buy food without plastic packaging. It’s estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, so the less single-use plastic you consume, the more you’ll be helping the environment. Buy unpackaged fruit and vegetables, and consider buying cupboard goods like rice and pasta in bulk from whole foods stores, and taking your own container to minimize waste.