What You Can Do at Home to Cut Pollution
Climate action basics – individual actions that really add up
It is important to realise that the most powerful actions we can take to protect our kids’ liveable planet as individuals are those that mean we are acting as citizens – when we join a movement, call on our governments to act, lobby, protest… or even just when we chat with friends and family about climate (because talking about climate is one of the most important things we can do to raise awareness of the need for urgent action and end climate silence).
Because. as Bill McKibben who started 350.org points out, we have to be greater than the sum of our parts. We HAVE to work together. We would love you to join us in Australian Parents for Climate Action. But there are plenty of other great groups you can join in Australia and around the world, like Climate Emergency Mobilisation, Beyond Zero Emissions, 350.org Australia, Citizens Climate Lobby.
But taking personal action to reduce our personal emissions and our implied support for the fossil fuel industry can also be empowering.
It’s good climate housekeeping to assess our personal carbon footprints and how to reduce them, to make sure our superannuation and other investments are divested from fossil fuels, etc. Taking personal action also ensures we are walking the walk, not just talking the talk. So here is a handy guide for some basic actions to tidy up our lives for the climate this year:
1. Consider where we can make some changes to our personal carbon footprints:
- One way to do this is to calculate our personal carbon footprints, such as the Victorian EPA’s calculator. We can use this assessment to then decide where to make little changes to have the biggest impact reducing our footprints.
2. Switch our Super:
- Why not call up your current super company and ask them whether they are invested in fossil fuels. I called my old company and yes, they were, even when I was invested in the most ethical option they have. So I switched my super so that I am not investing in fossil fuels with it. The one I went with was Australian Ethical Super. Another I know of in Australia is Future Super.
3. Green up our home energy:
- Before we bought our house and were able to get solar panels on our roof, as a first step I made sure we had 100 percent green power at our apartment through our electricity provider. You can find out how your company ranks on its renewable power mix and carbon emissions, or choose a higher ranking one, via the Australian Green Energy guide, which was updated in 2018. The guide now allows you to check rankings for companies within your home state, as well as Australia wide. PowerShop are the top rated, greenest company in the Australian Green Energy Guide and they are backed by 100% renewable energy generation.
- Get solar panels! They aren’t that expensive these days! We recently got a 6.38 kW system on our roof through a Queensland based company, otiPower. This system is the largest you can get on a residential property with a single phase power setting. It cost around $5000. We typically use 10 kW a day of electricity and I’ve noted sunny summer days where our solar panels pumped out 18 kW! For some more ideas for energy freedom in the home I recommend checking out Beyond Zero Emission’s Energy Freedom Home book. So we have joined the crew of Queenslanders with rooftop solar who effectively make up Queensland’s biggest power generator!
4. Increase the number of vegetarian meals we eat each week
- I used to be strictly vegetarian but it’s hard to keep up with balancing vegetarian diets and raising a family of people with different tastes and likes. So I have been starting to just increase the number of meals I have each week that are vegetarian, and incorporating as much vegetarian food as possible into my little girls’ diets. Significantly reducing the amount of meat we all eat can greatly help reduce carbon emissions. While I know I could do more on this front, I feel like I am educating myself and my kids about healthier choices and trying to head in the right direction. If more places offered healthy vegetarian take away it would make life easier too! Heads up food companies! It’s important to also commend farmers who are reducing the carbon emissions of beef and dairy. So for meat eaters there are also ways to reduce your carbon footprints. But eating less meat and more plants is seen as a key way to personally reduce our footprints.
5. Educate ourselves
- If, like me, your were shocked by the recommendations from the recent IPCC Report “Global Warming of 1.5°C” report that argues that we need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 (and some groups argue even more rapid change is needed), then please also join me in becoming as knowledgeable as we can on the necessary transition we need to make to ditch fossil fuels and roll out clean, green renewables, while learning to live more but use less. For what is life for but to work to make a better world for our most loved ones, our kids? It’s time for us all to be the change. The more we know about what is needed, the more people we can tell and the more support for bold, necessary action that there will be.