We are reminded (rightly) almost every day about the climate crisis and the threat it poses to our environments, to animals and to us.
It often seems, though, that anything ‘eco’ costs much more than the standard option. And with inflation currently rocketing, fuel prices out of control and the cost of living becoming almost impossible for many, paying more is not a viable option.
Couple that with the never-ending, daily juggle that modern life brings us, and the bandwidth we all have to ‘take action’ feels incredibly limited. We don’t have the spare cash, time or mental capacity to burden ourselves with more To Dos that we never do, and then feel guilty about.
But don’t write off taking eco action yet!
There are things you can do that don’t cost you money – some can actually save you money, and that require very little effort.
I present to you:
5 Zero Cost Ways to Combat Climate Change - that take (almost) zero effort
1. Reduce your (especially red) meat and diary
And in fact, food production is responsible for between one-quarter and one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions[i]. So what can you do to really reduce the carbon footprint of your food?
The science is really clear on this: eat less (red) meat and diary [ii]. 83% of carbon emissions from food come from meat and dairy [iii]. So just halving our meat and dairy intake would make a real difference on our carbon footprint, possibly cutting it by up to 15% [iv].
And for meat eaters, your initial focus should be on reducing or cutting out beef, lamb and cheese. Beef from a Beef herd emits TEN TIMES the about of Greenhouse Gases across the food chain than Chicken [v].
And by replacing that meat with plants will cut your food costs too, not costing you anything, and even saving money.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, start with Beef and Dairy, start by cutting it by half, and see where it leads.
2. Vote Green
Other than your time, and some brain power, voting is zero cost.
One of the best ways to improve climate change to is to vote for the politicians and policies, which will fight against it, get into office.
Choosing who represents us and holds the power to create the rules by which we live really does make a difference.
Green-minded governments and councils can also stop environmentally irresponsible projects and phase out subsidies to fossil fuel companies. And then can choose where money DOES get invested
This is the decade we need to act to keep global warming below 1.5’C, and we plans and legislation to help drive that change.
And it's not a wasted vote.
In the recent local elections (May 2022), The Green Party had a net gain of 81 seats. The net gain in England was more than Labour! And party support is growing fast - the Greens’ gain of seats more than doubled the number of seats they won from the local elections in 2018 (a 108% increase!)
There is now a total 542 Green councillors on 164 councils.
If there’s no viable green candidate in your local area, then Greenpeace put together an evaluation of the green credentials of all the major political party manifestos in 2019.
All of that, and it costs nothing.
3. Half your energy consumption by end of the decade
In the documentary Breaking Boundaries, scientist Johan Rockström tells us that to reach Net Zero by 2050, we need to be halving our carbon emissions by half every decade until then.
And this doesn’t have to be just at a governmental and industry level, we can do this in our homes too. Halving our carbon footprint within our home, especially if we focus on halving our consumption levels, is a zero cost way of fighting climate change.
If our carbon footprint is roughly 25% for food, energy, transport and ‘everything else’ (non-food shopping, services etc), then let’s challenge ourselves to reduce those by half by the end of 2030, and then again each decade after that.
In our house, I’ve set our family a challenge of halving our carbon footprint by the end of the decade. If you break it down into single actions, I really feel it’s possible – halve our shower time, turn on one instead of two lights, double down on turning lights off, halve the number of car journeys, halve the number of times we eat meat, fish or dairy in a week, turn off our TV and other electricals at night, instead of just stand-by, halve the new clothes bought, and halve the electronics bought, halve the number of flights, wear your clothes twice before washing. And within the next 7.5 years.
It will be a change of habits, but I do feel that if we focus on the small actions, it will all add up and be doable.
And in reality as electricity becomes more and more green, it’s not just about reducing consumption, but increasing renewable energy consumption instead of fossil fuel energy. This means our home electricity use and also making green choices when buying from other companies.
4. Sign Petitions
Signing a petition is a zero cost way of fighting climate change – and is a very little effort too.
Adding your name to a petition shows those in power how we feel and what we want. Any petition on the petition.parliament.uk site that gets 100,000 signatures or more gets debated in parliament. So head there and search for petitions on topics you care about.
For example here’s one current petition:
End ‘ghost' flights https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/605749
Friends of the Earth have a petitions section on their website. It takes seconds of your time, and zero cost to sign a petition and add your voice to tens or hundreds of thousands of others.
A couple of Climate Change related ones. (But add your name and your voice to as many as you can.)
Same again on the Greenpeace website.
In particular, a zero cost action that could result in a reduction in energy costs, is this petition:
So simple, so easy, zero cost and a great way to make your voice heard and influence decision makers to make better choices in tacking climate change.
5. Talk to Others
People are influenced and inspired by people.
So talk to people about the issues you care about, and what you’re doing to take action on them.
Tell them about the petitions you sign. Tell them about things you learn. Ask them how they feel about climate change.
It can sometimes feel ‘clunky’ or intrusive or inappropriate, but the next time there’s some crazy weather we experience, or a climate disaster hits the headlines, bring it up in conversation. They’re probably thinking about, and worrying about it, too. Remember a problem shared is a problem halved. Plus the more conversation about the climate crisis is at the forefront of daily life, the more it will influence our decisions and actions at both a micro and a macro level.
So there you have it: five zero cost ways to combat climate change, which also take (almost) zero effort. Some of the even SAVE you money too!
And so, although often seems that anything ‘eco’ costs much more than the standard option, not all eco action has to cost us. With inflation currently only going up and up, fuel prices sky-high and the cost of living almost impossible for many, paying more is not the answer.
Hopefully the above five suggestions have inspired you to take action to tackle climate change, without it emptying your wallet.
With love, eco action and eco hope (and zero cost),
References & Further Reading
[iv] If 83% of our carbon footprint from food comes from meat and dairy, if we halve that we get 42% + the remaining 17%, meaning our carbon food print would be 60% of what it was originally. If 25% of our whole carbon footprint comes from food, 60% of 25 = 15%. Halving our meat and dairy intake, would reduce our overall carbon footprint by 15%.