Going Green: Tiny changes truly can make huge differences

National Simplicity Day is this month (photo: Adobe)National Simplicity Day is this month (photo: Adobe)
National Simplicity Day is this month (photo: Adobe)
Are there really easy and cheap ways to help the environment? I want to do more but have a busy job and a lot of commitments.

Yes, and this is a great question I get asked a lot. What’s more, it’s National Simplicity Day this month so simple and easy changes are things we should all be thinking about.

There are plenty of ways we can all do a little more and if we pool those efforts together, they go a really big way to making positive changes and sending clear signals to business and government to act.

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I guess the simplest start is to think about holidays – flying is one of the biggest sources of emissions and if we all holidayed in the UK or took the train into Europe rather than flying we’d go a long way to reducing air pollution.

Annie Lennox (photo: Getty Images)Annie Lennox (photo: Getty Images)
Annie Lennox (photo: Getty Images)

There are even low carbon holiday companies who have a focus on making sure holidays are fantastic but low impact on the environment. According to the Energy Savings Trust, the carbon emissions for flying from London to Edinburgh are 144kg carbon dioxide per person. Driving the same journey in a medium sized petrol car emits 120kg, while travelling by train emits just 29kg for the same journey.

According to Eurostar’s Treat Lightly program, the Eurostar emits ten times less carbon dioxide than travelling by plane.

It’s also worth thinking about how you shop too – charity shops are amazing treasure troves and there are so many websites for second hand clothes, like Oxfam or Vinted, but it’s not just about clothes.

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You can buy almost anything on Facebook marketplace and that serves two purposes – firstly it means you’re repurposing something that would end up going in the bin but also there’s way less miles involved in picking things up locally than there is in having things sent from a factory or warehouse miles away.

Swap gifts for experiences like camping (photo: Adobe)Swap gifts for experiences like camping (photo: Adobe)
Swap gifts for experiences like camping (photo: Adobe)

It's worth thinking about food shopping too, we know meat isn’t great for the environment so why not save yourself money as well as the environment and have it once a week instead of more frequently.

Meat production accounts for 57 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions of the entire food production industry so changing your diet will make a huge difference.

It's worth thinking about how you travel day to day too, can you walk or cycle where you drive now the weather is sunny? If you drive to work are there any colleagues you can pick up and drop off so you’re car sharing?

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We know about reusable coffee cups, shopping bags, water bottles and eco friendly beeswax wraps instead of clingfilm and all these daily changes add up.

Air travel isn't good for the climate (photo: Adobe)Air travel isn't good for the climate (photo: Adobe)
Air travel isn't good for the climate (photo: Adobe)

Simple things like switching things off at the sockets save energy and money. Household appliances on standby mode still use energy so switch them off completely by turning them off at the socket when they’re not being used.

Look at your home heating too – if your house isn’t insulated, log onto onehome.org.uk/insulate for ways to make your house more energy efficient. We lose hundreds of pounds of heat every year at home because of poor insulation.

Celebrity spot

Annie Lennox celebrated Great Big Green Week with a letter on her feelings about climate change. The singer said: “We’ve taken the future for granted for decades and now we’re at a point of no return. Global leaders must recognise that climate disaster isn’t something that possibly might happen when the terrible effects are right on our doorstep. I want future generations to be able to look back and say ‘we changed the course of history.”

Green swap

​Swap gifts for experiences.

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If you’ve got a birthday coming up, and don’t need more things, ask friends and family to consider gifting you experiences.

Such experiences are preferable to items that might well end up filling a cupboard.

Sporting clubs need to reduce climate emissions

With the women’s world cup starting next month in Australia and New Zealand, and The Ashes ongoing until the end of this month between England and Australia, there are always a lot of sporting events over the summer months for spectators and sports fans to enjoy. But sports clubs themselves produce climate emissions too.

Last year, Aston Villa travelled 22,419 air miles in pre season which means 87.63 metric tonnes of carbon emissions – they might be at the top of the emissions list but they’re not alone, football clubs across the globe fly short distances for friendlies and that needs to change.

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Clubs could easily use train or coach travel rather than flying across the UK for matches. They also need to start thinking about the future of their stadiums. It’s estimated 23 out of the 92 Football League clubs in the UK will be partially or completely submerged by rising sea levels by 2050.

Sport has come under fire from protestors to raise awareness of climate change including the emissions from sporting events.

It is estimated over 85 per cent of the emissions from major sporting events are caused by both local and long distance travel. So what can be done?

They need to have fantastic infrastructure built around them so fans are able to access greener ways to travel.

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They need to think more about a digital footprint rather than an actual one – yes the atmosphere at live events isn’t comparable to watching on TV but there has to be some incentives for fans watching at home.

Offsetting is often talked about by big clubs and it was mentioned a lot with the Qatar World Cup but it’s not a magic bullet so there needs to be better solutions.

Greenteamtravel.com has been launched by Sports room with the ultimate goal of achieving a zero carbon team travel program by 2030. They’re currently only working with Forest Green Rovers football team and Leicestershire Country Cricket team but it’s a step in the right direction and where they lead hopefully more will follow.

New stadiums need to be built using environmentally friendly building methods and materials.

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They need to think about making their own power from solar panels too and sports clubs personalities have huge platforms where they can advocate

The bottom line is, it’s not all about spectators and their travel and habits, clubs have a huge responsibility to reduce their emissions and operate in a greener, more sustainable way.

Almost all sports bodies in the UK are aware of the changes they need to make to become greener it’s just a question of how fast they’ll adapt and make changes.

Fact or fiction

​If no action is taken, greenhouse gas emissions could grow by 50 per cent by 2050

Fiction! If nothing is done to curb emissions, they could grow by 65 per cent.

Successful action though could see them reduce by 68 per cent.