Best Changes You Can Make For The Environment In 2022:
If you are looking to set some climate goals for 2022, here are the top 6 things I believe will make a difference:
1. Take note of your money.
If you have some sort of investment funds, retirement funds or kiwi saver - look into where your money is actually going.
A lot of banks still invest your savings into harmful practices like fossil fuel companies, deforestation, factory farming, animal testing, weapons, palm oil and other destructive industries. (Ethical investment funds are easily found via google, some examples are: Pathfinder, Mindful Money).
“KiwiSaver totals over $82 billion, and you can use yours to avoid harm and invest positively”.
2. Vote for politically aligned parties.
Voting for parties with green policies is a great way to back local and general environmental goals in your country. Even if that party doesn’t get elected, the backing for certain policies will be noticed and will slowly shift the political conversations to more climate issues.
Research your political parties and learn about how they are planning on supporting and implementing the ESG’s, carbon emission reductions, and other green policies.
3. Consume less and better.
By now I think we are all aware that our consumption habits are having a detrimental effect on the environment and human rights issues around the globe. The best thing we can do is stop consuming so much, the second is to consume better.
This doesn’t only relate to clothing purchases, (which are estimated to be around 14 new pieces annually for every person on earth) but also your food purchases, homewares, furniture, beauty and knick knacks. Before replacing items in your life that you’ve used up, see if you can find a greener alternative, or weigh up if you actually need it at all.
“…we know how we spend our dollars as a consumer matters. Ethical consumption by the average shopper helps buy the world we want to see”.
4. Travel smarter.
Transport accounts for one of the largest carbon emitting sectors globally, contributing up to ⅕ of global emissions annually. Driving alone and flying are the two most energy intensive, while walking, biking and taking the train are the least.
See if there are alternative ways for you to travel, or greener transport options you can invest in (take note where your local energy comes from, in 2019 82.4% of the electricity generated in NZ came from renewables, and 39.8% of our primary energy supply as well - this will make a difference to how ‘green’ electric forms of transport are).
5. Be less wasteful.
Being mindful of our waste is one of the first things we should consider when buying new products. Always ask yourself, at the end of the lifecycle of this product, how can I dispose of it?
We can probably all agree that landfill and incineration should be at the bottom of the disposal list, so what are other ways we can be mindful of our waste?
Buying things made from biodegradable/natural materials, composting, reusing, upcycling, recycling, downcycling and donating should all come first before we throw things away. (Read all about how to make your clothes last longer here).
Food waste alone costs the average household in New Zealand $644 a year, so learning to store food and compost are great steps in reducing waste. (When food scraps are put into landfill, the lack of oxygen in the biodegrading process results in the production of methane - one of the strongest greenhouse gases).
“There’s no such thing as away. When we throw things away they must go somewhere” Annie Leonard, creator of ‘Story of Stuff’.
6. Learn, and share what you learn.
You don't need to be an expert to share what you’ve learned. Obviously you want to be mindful when you share information to ensure it's factual, but one of the most important aspects when it comes to environmental issues is awareness. There isn't enough of it.
Take time to educate yourself on areas of interest, read books, listen to podcasts, and follow environmentally focused social media pages. Surrounding yourself with information on changes we can make, better practices and current issues can be really enlightening. (Take care to consume as many positive resources as you can, so as not to overwhelm yourself with all the negative things. Make your sustainability journey ‘sustainable’).
Kindly advising your friends and family when they partake in unethical practices or enlighten them to changes you have made in your life, sharing information on social media and talking about environmental issues with the people around you is a great way to generate change and awareness.
The pressure for change is growing and it's important we prioritise environmental habits in our everyday lives. Some changes might be big, but many are small changes that collectively create new ways of living.
Sources and further reading: