CLIMATE CHANGE

‘Climate change’ and 'global warming' may be the most used phrases when it comes to environmental problems, but what do they actually mean? Below we've explained the issue and solutions to the problem.

 

Scroll down to the 'Recap: What Can We Do?' section at the bottom if you just want a brief summary of the actions you can take to help solve the problem.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

‘Global warming’ is the long-term increase in the Earth’s average temperature.

‘Climate change’ simply refers to global warming and the affects it has on the Earth’s climate, for example, longer draught periods.

‘Carbon footprint’ or ‘footprint’ refers to the impression each person has on global warming through what we do. In the UK the average person’s footprint is double the worldwide average. That’s because many other countries have a lower average for lots of reasons - less access to electricity, more home grown food and more renewable energy to name but a few. You can work out your footprint here.

'Greenhouse gases' refer to gases which get trapped in the atmosphere surrounding the Earth, for example carbon dioxide. These gases absorb heat and cause the planet to heat up, this is known as the 'greenhouse affect'. These gases can occur naturally although they are also let off by most human activity.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

Although global warming can occur naturally, science shows that human activity is drastically increasing it. This is causing massive climate change problems for both people and wildlife such as mass droughts, forest fires, coral reefs dying out and extreme flooding.

We’re also seeing an increase in sea levels as the polar ice caps melt, causing loss of habitat for animals like polar bears. This could also cause loss of homes for people living on low-lying islands which would lead to mass migration issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trees are one of our best chances of avoiding climate change. That’s because they absorb carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, we’re cutting our trees down faster than new ones are being planted. We do this for all sorts of things; buildings, firewood, paper, furniture and also to make land space for homes, industry and agriculture.

When trees are cut down they release all the carbon they’ve stored in their lifetime into the atmosphere. When new trees are planted, they take a long time to catch up to what carbon their predecessors were able to store, that’s if they’re even replaced with new trees.

Often forests are cleared and the wood isn’t even used. The process of burning rainforests is very common to make space for palm oil and coffee plantations as well as farmland. The emissions of this process contribute even more to global warming than simply felling trees.

It’s not just trees which help the problem. All sorts of things such as water, sea grass, wetlands, peatlands, coral reefs and even whales can regulate carbon. These things all need our protection which at the moment we’re sadly not giving enough of.

Scientists predict that we’re getting close to the point of irreversible climate change. This is why this is the big environmental issue of our time. It all sounds a bit overwhelming but that’s where individual action comes in...

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

Burning fossil fuels for electricity and heat is the biggest driver of climate change, it accounts for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions. We have an abundance of technology for renewable energy which doesn’t contribute to global warming in the same way. Switching to a green energy provider is one of the best things you can do for the environment.

 

If you're not a homeowner, you could encourage the homeowner where you live to switch to a green energy supplier. The same goes for where you work, spurring on a change to green energy is a great way to help solve the issue.

Not wasting energy is also a simple way to help the problem. Turning off appliances at the switch when not in use and not charging devices overnight are great ways to be more eco-friendly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Travel is the next big offender. Not only do cars, ships and other modes of transport pollute our air but they are also the second biggest contributor to climate change. Planes are the worst culprit so trying to travel closer to home or opting for trains where possible are green ways to go.

Walking, cycling, using public transport and carpooling are all much more eco-friendly things we can do to help solve the problem.

If you simply need your own vehicle to get you from A to B then why not opt for an electric vehicle? They’re now very affordable and there’s even an Electric Highway app to make it easier for you to recharge on the go.

 

Food is the third biggest climate villain, amounting to 20-30% of global emissions! The best ways to avoid this problem are cutting down on meat and dairy, eating food produced locally and preventing food waste. As it's quite a complicated issue, we've explained more as to why food causes climate change and other problems here. We've also got loads of tips on how to be more eco-friendly with food and we've broken these down into In The Home, On-The-Go and Dining Out, take your pick! 

 

 

 

 

 

Landfill is another huge problem as the methane it lets off causes global warming. We can try to turn off the landfill tap by going zero waste, upcycling or recycling where possible and avoiding things which can’t be either recycled or passed on. If you haven’t got recycling facilities it's a good idea to contact your local council.

 

Opting for more recyclable materials is a great way to help with this. Glass and aluminium can both be recycled endlessly and so are the best choices. Generally speaking it takes far less energy to recycle material then to create it, therefore it's better for global warming when we use more recyclable materials and continue to recycle them.

 

Paper is also very recyclable if it's not bonded with plastic. For this reason it's best to avoid paper products with plastic as they won't be recycled, for example, cards with glitter, envelopes with plastic windows and single-use hot drink cups.

 

Most plastic can only be recycled a maximum of one time, if at all. So even if plastic makes it into the recycle bin, it hasn't got much opportunity for being recycled again and again and will likely end up in landfill or worse. This means that as well as all the other problems with plastic, it also contributes to global warming. Have a look at our 22 Easy Plastic Switches page for tips on how to reduce your plastic consumption. 

 


When it comes to purchasing goods, everything has a footprint. The same as food, opting for products produced locally reduces the emissions caused by travel. Mindful shopping is a great way to be greener; buying goods which are needed, will have plenty of use and can be passed on to a new home or recycled when finished with. Even better is buying things second-hand wherever possible. All these things are great for your pocket too!

The fashion industry is the worst retail culprit; it contributes to a shocking 10% of greenhouse gas emissions! Find out how you can make greener fashion choices here.

Gifts and greeting cards are both big culprits for waste which contributes to climate change. Have a look at our page for tips on how to give gifts and greeting cards more sustainably.

 


When it comes to preventing trees being cut down, using less paper or recycled paper products are great starting points. When shopping for products made of timber, why not consider something second-hand?

Don’t ‘Google it’, instead ‘Ecosia it!’ Ecosia is the free search engine which puts its advertising profits into planting trees. A very simple way to plant more trees at no cost to you, there’s even an app to make it easier!

There are so many instances in work where we can’t avoid things which are contributing to climate change, for example, printing lots of paperwork. If you’ve got a guilty conscience about this, especially if you’re a company owner, then you could pay a voluntary 'tax' to carbon offset. Say for example you have to fly somewhere for business, the carbon produced during that flight can be neutralised by supporting a tree planting project.

 

If you're an employee or even applying for a job, these are questions which you could be asking. After all, working for a company that has respect for the environment shouldn't be asking too much.

If you have a company and simply can’t afford to offset carbon then your time can be equally as valuable if used correctly. For example, if you’re planning a team-building day then why not take part in a tree planting event?

This doesn’t only apply to work. If you're travelling abroad, you could offset the carbon of your flight or see if there’s a tree planting project you could get involved with whilst you’re away or back at home.

Tree planting events are a brilliant initiative for avoiding climate change. They’re also a great way to spend time with family and friends, meet new people or as a team building exercise for schools or businesses.

There are so many other things which contribute to global warming that this could be an endless list! We wanted to provide a practical collection of solutions for you to pick and choose what can be applied to your life. You could also take a look at our 30 Ways To Go Green page for more simple ways to be kinder to the planet. Every difference counts if we want to avoid irreversible climate change!

RECAP: WHAT CAN WE DO?

Switch to a green energy supplier or encourage the property owner where you live or work to do so.

Turn off appliances when not using them. Avoid charging devices overnight.

Try to travel closer to home or opt for trains over flights where possible.

Walk, cycle, use public transport or carpool when possible.

If you need your own vehicle then opt for electric.

Eat more sustainably - avoid meat and dairy, try to eat food produced locally and avoid food waste.

Avoid the landfill bin. Shop zero waste or for recyclable and reusable products.

If zero waste isn't an option, opt for more recyclable packaging such as aluminium and glass.

Cut down on plastic with our 22 Easy Plastic Switches.

Shop for things you need, buy second-hand where possible and pass things on to another home when finished.

Avoid fast fashion and opt for sustainable fashion.

Cut down on waste by giving gifts and greeting cards more sustainably.

Cut down on paper usage, opt for recycled paper products and second-hand timber products.

Avoid paper products which don't get recycled e.g. cards with glitter, paper hot drink cups.

Use the tree-planting search engine, ‘Ecosia’ and its app.

Consider offsetting your carbon or support a tree planting charity.

Take part in a tree planting event or organise your own.

Take a look at our 30 Ways To Go Green and page and have a go.

Plane in the Sky
Landfill Management