Tag Archives: climate change

Steps to Sustainable Living in Your Home

I’m in the process of launching something I’m really excited about. A course called Steps to Sustainable Living in Your Home.

Since I started this blog in January 2020, I’ve learned so much about sustainable living, a lot of which, I have adapted into my own lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect, I’m still learning everyday and one person’s vision of sustainable living doesn’t always necessarily compare to someone else’s vision.

I remember at the beginning I was trying to change so many things in one go and found it so overwhelming. I wanted to live plastic-free, look at everything I was buying, only buy locally because the carbon footprint will be lower, companies I buy from and their view on sustainability, clothes that were environmentally friendly and so on.

What I quickly realised is that, by trying to do everything in one go, I wasn’t doing anything well. I was trying to change a habit I’ve had for the last 40 years in a short period of time, and I failed miserably.

I decided to take a step back and pick on one thing.

Looking back on where I am now from where I was, I realised how difficult it was to get information. Of course, the internet is jam packed with a wealth of information, but it’s knowing where to look and whether it’s reliable too.

I wish I had somewhere to start from; a guide, a handbook, a manual, something to steer me in the direction I wanted to go.

This was the reason I wrote Steps to Sustainable Living in Your Home. To be able to give you the chance to start your mission into sustainable living without the confusion and overwhelm I had. To pass on what I have learned so far, give you guidance on where to look for information about clothing materials and toxins found in cleaning products, what recycling symbols mean and what greenwashing actually is.

I’m not a scientist or an environmental professional, I am someone who is looking to help others live sustainably based on what I’ve learned so far.

Since the start, there’s something that has always come back to me:

I’m not sure if I heard it somewhere or if I came up with it myself, but I always say this to people.

So, you’re probably wondering, what’s in this course?

 8 sections – Introduction, Household Waste, Cleaning, Kitchen, Bathroom, Fashion, Carbon Footprint, Conclusion
 13 accompanying PDF downloads
 Editable PDF downloads, no need to print them off
 Introduction videos for each section
 Lifetime access
  Work through the course in your own time

How much is the course?

The full price of this course will be £57. That’s it, less than a full tank of fuel.

To register your interest, please sign up below and you will be the first to hear when Steps to Sustainable Living in Your Home will go live.

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

In 2019, the UK became the first country to declare a climate emergency renewing a sense of urgency to tackle climate change. However, despite this emergency, not much has happened since.

This is why the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill is needed if we are to fight climate change.

What is the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill?

The Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE Bill) is a bill drafted by experts; scientists, ecological economists, legal experts and environmentalists. Individuals who know what they are talking about in terms of climate emergency and aren’t interested in scoring political points – unlike politicians.

This Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill is designed to get the UK government do more to reduce the greenhouse gases we produce, which is fueling climate change, create a Citizen’s Assembly, restore and protect biodiversity.

This Bill is sponsored by Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party and has already achieved cross-party backing. You see if your MP is one of its supporters.

At the time of writing this, my MP, Damian Green, is not listed as a supporter of the Bill and neither is my local council, Ashford Borough Council.

Here’s a video by one of the contributors of the Bill Dr Charlie Gardner, conservation scientist and expert.

We are in a climate emergency, and the scientists are the ONLY ones I will listen to.

Where is the Bill now?

This bill, a private members bill, had its first reading on 2nd September 2020 and has been re-introduced by Caroline Lucas MP last month.

What can you do?

You can sign up to the campaign, where you will get updates on the Bill, and how to lobby your MP and local council to show their support. My local council nor my local MP are listed on the supporters page, so this is something I’m interested in changing.

There is a wealth of resources on how you can lobby your MP, visual tools including social media graphics and posters. There’s even a FAQ. One of my favourite parts in the resources is the ability to check whether you’ve received a standard response from your MP. Whoever came up with that is a genius!

The key to achieving great things with this Bill is to gather as much support as possible so it passes with an overwhelming majority.

We can all be part of the solution to make change and these big changes can only happen in Parliament.

You can find more information about the bill here and if reading the bill is your thing, you can do so here.

Why bees are in trouble and what you can do

Bees are one of the most hardest working creatures on our planet, they play a critical role in keeping us alive and I don’t think they get the credit they deserve.

There are more than 250 species of bee in Britain and I’ve decided to delve a little deeper and find out why these incredible creatures are so incredible.

Pollination

When in comes to pollination, bees are vital. Some plants rely on wind to pollinate and others rely on insects, this is where bees do their bit. They are constantly hunting for nectar (they use this to make honey) and spend a lot of time flying around from flower to flower. This allows them to collect pollen from one plant and deposit it on other plants and this is how bees help with pollination.

Crop fertilisation

Crops in the UK such as vegetables, berries and fruits rely on bee pollinations. There are about 60 – 70 different crops that rely on bee pollination including apples, broccoli, cucumbers, watermelon to name just a few.

Bees are in trouble

Due to climate change, the bee population are in decline and the increased use of pesticides doesn’t help either. Climate change is affecting the global temperature which is throwing our seasons out of sync and having a knock-on effect on wildlife too. Bees are coming out of hibernation before flowers have started blooming. As they rely on flowers for their nectar, there isn’t enough food for them to survive. Pesticides are another big issue and they are used to keep pests off our food preventing them from damaging our crops.

Some of these pesticides actually make insects ill including bees. On one side crops need to be protected for food but on the other hand, these pesticides are harming the insects we rely on to help pollinate our food.

Bees are declining, what could happen?

If the bee population continue to decline, what do you think will happen?

  • Plants that rely on bee pollination will decline if there aren’t enough bees to pollinate them
  • If plants decline, the animals that rely on these plants for food will also start declining. Especially, if the animal solely relies on a particular plant for survival
  • The farming community will have to find a way to pollinate their crops manually. The cost of this could run into the billions
  • As we rely on bee pollination for fruit and vegetables, these will be in decline too. The pressure on food supplies will be high.

The term ‘circle of life’ is exactly that, when there is a break in the circle, it stops becoming a circle.

You can help

If you have an outside space, big or small, turn it into a flower and vegetable garden and avoid using pesticides.

Grow flowers – especially purple flowers, they see this colour more clearly than any other – lavender, alliums and catmint. If you’ve already got flowers in your garden that aren’t purple, keep them! They’ll love them too. I grow sunflowers in mine and the bees love it.

A little vegetable garden is also a good idea; tomatoes, strawberries or even some herbs. Go nuts!

Extinction: The Facts – review

This David Attenborough documentary aired on the BBC called Extinction: The Facts which explains the truth about the dying biodiversity.

This documentary really didn’t hold back, it showed the upsetting havoc and effects humans have wreaked on the natural world. Unlike breathtaking images from his previous documentaries like The Blue Planet or Planet Earth, the images we instead saw were of animals escaping fires, scorched landscapes, dead killer whales and piles of Pangolin scales. It wasn’t easy viewing nor should it be.

I’ve watched other documentaries about what we are doing to life on this planet and the destruction we have caused to the only home we have, but this time, the stark urgency was impossible to ignore.

In 2019, the UN asked a team of 500 scientists to investigate the state of the natural world. It found that all groups of species are in decline and estimate 1 million species out of 8 million are at risk of extinction. I know extinction is a natural process but the difference here is that humans are accelerating the process. When scientists look at fossil records, extinctions are shown to occur over millions of years, this is now occurring over tens of years with no evidence of slowing down.

Viewers got the opportunity to meet the last two Northern White Rhinos left on the planet and learned about the Pangolins being killed for the supposed medicinal purposes of their scales; which are made of Keratin, the same keratin found in fingernails. Of course, there is no evidence these scales have any medicinal purposes.

I was interested to see the documentary made a link between the loss of biodiversity and Covid-19. The more humans encroach into our natural world, the more chance of exposing ourselves to viruses opening us up for the risk of having to deal with a new pandemic more frequently. For those who only understand money; this is something our economies won’t be able to cope with.

Although, this documentary is grim viewing, it also provided us with hope. Rwanda has had a fantastic success story by increasing their gorilla population.

Throughout this documentary, all I kept thinking was that nature can survive without humans but humans cannot survive without nature. We are such an arrogant species and think we are indestructible. We are not, we are more vulnerable than we want to admit.

Nature can survive without humans but humans cannot survive without nature ExtinctionTheFacts #ClimateChange #Attenborough

This documentary must be watched by all and used as an educational resource. Especially to governments and decision makers. Everyday thousands of babies are born into a world where humans are killing life on this planet; killing their future. Seriously, what are we doing?

The time for talking is over, it’s time to ACT!

The time for talking is over, it’s time to ACT! ExtinctionTheFacts #ClimateChange #Attenborough

Things I No Longer Buy

Over the past year, I’ve become more aware of my carbon footprint which has made me make some changes in my life. The things we buy have a carbon footprint; production, transport etc so I’ve stopped buying certain items I realised I personally didn’t need anymore

Plastic Bottles

I’ve actively refuse to buy drinks in a plastic bottle. I have quite a few reusable bottles and when I go out with my daughter, I make sure I fill up a bottle for her. She also has a water bottle she takes to school everyday. When my partner comes home from a football match after eating his fried chicken on the train, he always buys a plastic bottle on water. I’ve used this bottle for things like watering the plants in the house. Ideally, I would prefer if he took a water bottle with him…I’m working on it!

Shopping Plastic Bags

Reusable bags can be bought from anywhere and there is no excuse to have to purchase plastic carrier bags from the supermarket. It helps if you have a few bags in your handbag, car, workplace desk. They will always come in handy.

Strawberries

I know this is going to sound like a weird one but I love eating strawberries and they are always sold in the plastic tub with a sheet of bubble wrap at the bottom. I know strawberries can be easily bruised and need protection but this packaging really irks me. I started growing strawberries in my garden and although I won’t be able to eat strawberries all year round, when they’re in season, I nip out to the garden and pick what I want.

Clothes

The only time I buy clothes brand new is when I need underwear, which isn’t that often anyway. Some friends and family turn their noses up at charity shops but it’s never bothered me. Quite a few months ago I needed a hat a scarf, I washed my hat and shrunk, a lot! I found a hat and scarf for £2 each, bargain! I bought a pair of jeans for £3. I even buy furniture too.

Cling Film

I’ve stopped using cling film a while ago and I’m trying to get my Mum to do the same. For leftover food, I put the food in reusable plastic containers or reusable wraps. There are plenty on the market to choose from.

Dishcloths

I don’t buy new dishcloths anymore, I just chuck them in the washing machine with the rest of the washing.

Loose fruit and veg

I make a conscious effort to buy loose fruit and vegetables at the supermarket. I will never understand why buying four apples loose costs more than buying four apples in plastic wrap. I think it’s something to do with the grade of the item but I think it’s just a cop out. Give us more choice.

Making changes to our habits takes time, when we realise we’ve changed your shopping habits, we need to keep adding more. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What things have you given up?

What I did for Plastic Free July 2020

On the run up to July 2020, I started noticing the hashtag #PlasticFreeJuly. For someone who has been making changes in an effort to reduce plastic use, I am embarrassed to admit I had never heard of them before.

Based in Australia, Plastic Free July started in 2011 and have an amazing website offering a wealth of ideas of how you can reduce your plastic use at home, school, work, businesses and within local communities. If you’re stuck of ideas, check out their ‘What Others Do’ page for some fantastic inspiration.

In light of this, I decided to take on the #PlasticFreeJuly challenge. I started looking at what changes I could make to reduce my plastic use.

Fruit and Veg

Every Tuesday and Thursday, there is a fruit and veg stall and when I need something, I buy from the stall (#SupportLocal). When I used to buy fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, I found it frustrating that the only options available to me was pre-packaged and, in most cases, more than what I needed. At least buying from a stall, I can buy what I needed. However, the downside I found was that they offer to package your items in a plastic carrier bag. Nope, not for me. I have a small bag that I leave in my bag I only use for loose food. I also started growing my own strawberries at home so no need to buy them.

Tea Bags

I’m a tea-loving Brit and after the shock of discovering that some teabags contain micro plastics, the thought of little bits of plastic swimming around in my tea made me feel a little queasy. In light of this new information, a solution was urgently needed. After some research, it turns out that there are some brands who advertise their products don’t contain plastic but one thing I’ve been aware of in the past, not necessarily by tea bag brands, is that when a company changes something about their product, they aren’t always as vocal or transparent as they should be about the changes. I guess, as a consumer, I’m not that trusting. Therefore, I found a place that sells loose tea. I had to buy a tea infuser and using loose tea did take a bit of getting used to but I don’t notice it anymore.

Waxing

I’ve been waxing since my teens and I’ve always used wax strips available in shops, yes, that ones that can’t be recycled. So, I decided to convert to sugar waxing, however, I don’t think I use sugar waxing how it was intended. I appears that you should roll up a ball, smooth it on your skin and pull it off quickly, I found that hurts WAY TOO MUCH. I quickly realised that I needed strips of some sort so I cut up a cotton shirt my partner no longer needed into strips and used them instead. I’m not going to lie, it still hurts but I don’t feel like my skin is being ripped off like shop bought wax strips and it’s made of natural ingredients; sugar, lemon, salt and water. It’s a lot cheaper too, to wax both of my legs cost me eighty pence. Bargain and nothing to landfill!

I’m really happy about the changes I’ve made so far and I won’t be waiting until next July to make more changes, I will continue to do so until I can reduce my plastic use as much as I possibly can. What changes did you make for #PlasticFreeJuly?

Are we really killing the planet?

Before you start attacking me, just hear me out.

Due to human activity, we are accelerating climate change, I believe this to be true. Global warming has occurred in Earth’s history, the difference is that we, humans, are accelerating it. But I began looking at it differently since I started studying for an BSc in Environmental Science.

We aren’t killing the planet; we are killing life on the planet. Two very different things but just as serious.

The earth is 4.6 billion years old and has survived five mass extinctions:

  1. Ordovician–Silurian extinction – 439 million years ago
  2. Late Devonian extinction – 364 million years ago
  3. Permian–Triassic extinction – 251 million years ago
  4. Triassic–Jurassic extinction – 199 million to 214 million years ago
  5. Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction – 65 million years ago (Asteroid)

From my studies, the third mass extinction, Permian–Triassic extinction, which was the deadliest, wiped out about 75% of life on land and 95% of life in the ocean. 95%, that’s huge! Especially since life actually began in the oceans and made its way onto land. Despite this devastation, some form of life was still able to continue and evolved. The fifth mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs wasn’t as devastating as the third one and that was due to an asteroid colliding with earth.

Whenever the planet has experienced an extinction, Earth has always been able to regenerate itself and there is no reason to believe it can’t do that again. However, I do wonder whether humans will be part of the future. Although we are an arrogant species wielding the superiority sword, we are also incredibly fragile. A little fact I learned during my studies; 95% of ALL life that has EVER lived on earth is extinct.

It is believed by some that we are in the sixth extinction event, Holocene extinction. As our CO2 parts per million is at the highest level than at any recorded time in the past, something has to give. We are on a path of destruction and the crazy thing is that not everyone is on board with this.

We humans really do need to change our habits instead of playing lip service. I don’t believe we, humans, can stop the sixth extinction. However, we do have the capability to slow if we all worked together. The painful truth is that the officials we elect have so much power and are able to make colossal changes but they just aren’t doing enough. In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to in the world to pass a law requiring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and we’re not even the richest economy in the world!

I believe in science, and no one knows how this is going to play out. Scientists are providing us with their best predictions based on various models but these are being readjusted because certain factors are accelerating the problem. There will always be variable factors; number of people living on the planet, the next pandemic and the resulting loss of life.

I’m still at the early stages in my educational journey, maybe my views may change along the way. That’s what I want out of my education; learning, listening to different opinions and forming my own conclusions based on the facts in front of me.

Geologists can tell a lot about history from rock layers built up over millions and millions of years. In the very distant future when more intelligent species start investigating the planet’s past, they will find our legacy in the rocks, a thin layer of plastic pinpointing the age of humans.

UK Cities pledging to become carbon neutral

Cities in the UK are looking how they can transition to becoming carbon neutral in the future.

The climate has been a long standing issue, however, more recently, this issues has become more urgent and voices (rightly so) have become louder. Protests, demonstrations, documentaries and even celebrities are lending their names and voices to the cause. Things really do need to change and one of the primary places for real change will be from government.

As the debate for climate change is becoming harder to ignore, government and local authorities are starting to take notice, albeit, slow. In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to in the world to pass a law requiring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Even before this became law, there were some UK cities that pledged to become carbon neutral ahead of the governments 2050 target, lets explore these cities.

Glasgow

Following a report by the Climate Emergency Working Group’s 61 recommendations, the city decided to adopt of the recommendations and have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030. If you would like to read the report, here is a link.

Nottingham

Having declared a climate emergency in 2018, Nottingham City Council are committed to becoming the first ‘net-zero carbon’ city after setting a target of achieving this by 20208. If they achieve this, they will become the UK’s first city to do so. They have set out how they plan to do this, for more details, follow the link.

Bristol

In 2018, Bristol pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030. Bristol was the first council in the UK to declare a climate emergency. City Leap was set up between the council and Bristol Energy in order to bring together local businesses with a view to working together to achieve their target.

More and more cities have started to make their own pledges in becoming carbon neutral, in some cases, way before the governments 2050 date. Reading about cities taking responsibility for their own carbon emissions is a positive step in the right direction. If cities end up competing with each other as to who is greener, surely that can only be a good thing…

Want To Understand Climate Change? Watch these films

As someone who takes a keen interest on the effects of climate change and how global warming is effecting our lives, I try to watch anything I can to learn more about the subject and be better informed. Here are some films I enjoyed watching.

Cowspiracy : The Sustainability Secret

I will be honest, I didn’t actually read the synopsis for this, someone suggested I should watch it. Unlike other documentaries, it answers the questions it asks. I was aware of the impact agriculture is having on global warming but I didn’t realise how much and the amount of water that goes into producing a burger, it’s huge! Water is a limited resource! This really opened my eyes in terms of the price we pay to the environment from eating meat and shows the need for drastic change to our lifestyles.

A Plastic Ocean

I felt this documentary was very powerful, watching this I was absolutely shocked and saddened by the amount of plastic in our oceans and the effect it’s having on marine life. This documentary is beautifully made and makes you question your choices as a consumer; is it really worth it?

Our climate change problem

Climate Change – The Facts

This is narrated by Sir David Attenborough and for me, if Attenborough is talking, I will listen. Attenborough and the team looked at the science behind climate change. No politics, no NGOs, just science and it’s pretty grim. The last 20 hottest years have occurred in the last 22 years. The documentary interviews some of the world’s leading scientists to analyse the changing weather patterns. It gives us a stark warning of what is in store for us if we don’t make a change. If there is one documentary you should watch, it’s this one.

Before the Flood

Leonardo DiCaprio, as the narrator, uses his celebrity status by bringing attention to the plight of the planet due to climate change. He travels the world and looks at the effect of climate change first hand and how it’s changing societies forever and explores our dependence on fossil fuels. It’s a very well thought out documentary and he doesn’t pretend to have all the answers which is evident when he is talking to an environmentalist from India. I won’t say anymore, I don’t want to spoil it.

Films to help understand climate change better

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

I absolutely loved An Inconvenient Truth, it was probably one of the first documentaries I watched where I started to understand we have a serious problem and not many people were talking about it. This is the sequel for An Inconvenient Truth released 11 years later, it follows on from what happened in the last 11 years; the flooding of the World Trade Centre site, the changing weather patterns and how people are being affected.

The Story of Plastic

This film was aired on Earth Day 22nd April 2020. Watching this made me very say because it was a stark reminder of what we are doing to the planet and how a decision on one side of the planet can impact another side. This film not only focused on where plastic ends up; rivers, oceans, inside sea life, incinerators, it talks about the start of the plastic journey too and the health implications of residents local to these plants.

If you have watched any films and want to shout about them, please share!