Many of us struggle to know how we can make a difference to the climate crisis in our daily lives and be part of the transition towards a more sustainable economy so I thought I would share a few tips that have emerged from my research and experience.
The Serious Side of Life
Campaigning is a key way to let those in power know what you want. Email your local council about something you feel passionate about – asking them to go pesticide free for example. I email my MP regularly – the last time was to register my outrage at the cut in domestic flight duty (announced in the middle of COP26).
The business world, these days, often has as much, if not more, power than governments. I know from personal experience, that it doesn’t take many targeted emails to make a difference. If you see something that is clearly contradicting sustainability policies or have a suggestion you think would improve a business’ eco credentials, contact them. You might be surprised at the impact you can make, especially if you can encourage other people to back you up. A good way to start is by writing to your local supermarket suggesting they clearly display seasonal, local produce, so consumers can make informed choices.
Money makes the world go round and the good news is that ethical investments currently seem to be outperforming others. I’m not a financial advisor but I speak from personal experience. My pension fund allows me to choose an ethical investment fund over the default one, so I switched over some years ago. I recently checked the performance of all the funds and the ethical fund had outperformed all the others consistently over the last five years!
Similarly I bank at Triodos – the top recommendation from Ethical Consumer. Their sustainable innovation fund has performed at 13% over the last 10 years.
On a Lighter Note
I run the sustainable haircare project where we help salons ‘go green’. We also provide eco-tips for customers – my favourite is that most of us shampoo too much and too often. Shampoo has quite toxic ingredients – so less is definitely more! Another tip that applies to showering, laundry and hair washing is to cut back on using too much hot water. Running hot water is the most expensive thing we do in our homes so, by using less you’ll not only be helping the planet but reducing your energy bills too.
Farmers may grow mono crops that leave little sustenance for bees, but you can create islands of biodiversity in your back garden simply by doing very little. If you live in Southampton, check out the green garden consultancy run by a local ecologist. In exchange for a tenner donated to Transition, Kevin will advise you on how to make your garden wildlife friendly. Top tips are: ponds are great, let your grass grow, avoid pesticides and avoid non-native plants such as bamboo and rhododendrons that can be invasive and offer little to UK wildlife.
The culture of over consumption is at the heart of many issues. I try to address this through the series of green stories writing competitions I run, that aim to embed green solutions in mainstream stories. We also try to promote more sustainable role models and we have just partnered with BAFTA on a competition to create a short video (<5mins) that calls out writers and characters that implicitly promote excessive consumption.
Climate fiction doesn’t have to be dystopian and depressing. Habitat Man is uplifting and fun and packed with eco-tips. Green Rising is a great young adult fantasy. The Ministry for the Future is an epic exploration of what might happen and how we might deal with things and is broadly optimistic (well kind of!). If you’re part of a book club, these are great reads in their own right and not just for greenies.
If you’d like to keep up with what I’m up to, feel free to sign up to my website https://www.dabaden.com/, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on Twitter @DABadenauthor or follow the green stories project on Twitter #GreenstoriesUk and Facebook/Instagram greenstoriessoton