14 Sep 2022

Our small actions towards climate can bring about huge climate impact

SmallChange

How do two little consecutive words ‘climate change’ evoke so much? They unite and divide all at once. They could arguably define the emotions of both dread and happiness. They cost billions, and yet save so much.

These two words can bring cities to standing point, people to their doorsteps, to the streets, to public places, signs, barricades, protests, they bring noise. Yet the actions we take in aid of climate change need not heed such immense gravity at all – our actions can be silent, small, minute and yet hold great power and accomplishment. Actions we take at home, at the office and throughout our daily lives can descend our carbon imprint on this world for a positive trajectory to carbon neutrality.

Every day we consider the bigger picture of climate change. But what does it look like for ours and future generations? If we do not act, the climate will respond, delivering extreme heat waves impacting hundreds of millions – or billions of people. Flooding frequency will increase with the predicted more frequent and heavier rainfall, snowfall and other precipitation affecting the water level. Over half of the habitats needed for the survival of plants and animals will be lost. If these species cannot adapt, or move, they will be at risk of extinction.

Sustainable choices at home are achievable. Simple steps could be turning off the light switches, choosing meat free days, switching to green power or offsetting your home and car, an initiative offered by Qantas. Studies show using the clothesline instead of the dryer will save 0.21 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per household, per year and that upgrading lightbulbs to a more sustainable option saves 0.2 tonnes.  It is quickly evident that by making small changes or adding a few alternative actions together such as air drying your clothes, car free days and unplugging electronics when not in use can contribute to the saving of 1 tonne a year. Multiplying these small actions can have a huge impact if you consider that in 2021 there were nearly 9.8 million households in Australia.  Complimenting this with a plant-based diet, yes it’s a step up from meat free Friday, but apart from saving you money it could also place you in a positive 1 tonne CO2 emission stance.

Small actions in conversations, spreading the word about environmental issues, voting for environmentally conscious lawmakers, and advocating for environmental architecture policies all lead towards an eco-friendlier life.

Composting unused vegetable waste through initiatives that many councils now offer such as bench-top composting and researching ways to use the whole food item – stalks, greens, tips and skins saves bin space and landfill. Many people steam up vegetable off-cuts and add to pet food, or access community composting arrangements. For months I was desperate to find an alternative to putting food waste in the bin, wondering if there was a better way to treat this waste. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a lady down the road who would take my weekly scraps, then turn it into soil for gardens and worm-wee for other projects! All attainable through apps, community conversation, notice boards and achievable by those who contribute small to do big!

Community solar projects can be a great small step. These projects are community-owned renewable energy projects helping to decarbonise, decentralise and democratise the electricity system to hopefully educate and demonstrate that renewable energies work. They benefit multiple customers incorporating individuals, businesses and even towns.

Recycling, upcycling and reusing – steps I teach my children. If it is broken the kids and I fix it, if it is not performing how it was designed to perform, we think about how we can adapt it to MAKE it perform better. Is it fit for purpose, or can it be repurposed? Can it be donated? Each season, as a household, we go through our clothes, donating the re-wearable to friends’ children or the local Opportunity Shop for reselling, saving from landfill.

Do we purchase for longevity, or do we add to consumer waste by indulging in one-time-single-use plastics and fast fashion? The choices I model speak to the choices my children will make. What better investment for our future than the countless opportunities I have each day in teachable opportunities.

Choose businesses that consider their environmental sustainability. Consider their business choices around sustainable packaging, sustainable administration, sustainable transport, or the product they are selling – its renewability, reusability, recyclability. It’s a small action for a great result.

Sustainable businesses are constantly appearing. We know why. The demand on businesses to consider their current and future contributions through the decisions they make where the climate is concerned is making them an easy choice for consumers. Nine in ten Australian consumers are more likely to purchase the ethical and sustainable products from businesses. The conversation is shifting for millennials and Gen-Z. They’re talking environment, and they’re talking loudly. 77% of consumers are more willing to purchase from a company with a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) pledge and 73% of investors agreed. That’s two in every three consumers considering not only the product, but what the company stands for in selling/producing/making that product. In a market saturated with products, the point of difference comes down to the company’s stance on making a positive change, these companies stand out, they differentiate themselves from other companies through their own brand identities, to include meaningful climate pledges, environment goals, social responsibility initiatives, commitments to Indigenous communities, attracting customers and creating a positive reputation around their brand.

Considerations such as who do you have your home or business loan through, who is your superannuation invested with and how do they negotiate carbon positive options if their investors demand it? Who are your utilities with and do these providers bring renewable energy options? Your next flight can be offset with a #TickTheBox initiative to fly carbon neutral.

When considering my current job, it never occurred to me the power I had behind that actual choice. That by where we lay our talent, experience and knowledge, the way we contribute as an employee towards an employer reflects a powerful stance on how we live our life. Consider your education and training, your years spent learning, gaining knowledge, experience and then entering the work force. An employer is lucky to have you right? But are you lucky to have them? Simple consideration and careful research of your next employer and how they contribute to the environment could see you supporting a growing move towards corporate sustainability. Big corporates make big decisions, big corporates have big carbon footprints, big corporates succeed through the right staff. Your small consideration on where to work next, what employer you put your hard-earned skills and qualifications towards is a positive step towards climate action. As skilled staff are attracted by employers showcasing a range of sustainable decisions, output and achievements, these employers’ benefit and thrive, and staff benefit from knowing that their employer has a healthier future planet in their sights.

We should not discourage any momentum either great or small to bring about change. Each day encouraging the slightest improvement. When someone says ‘it’s better than nothing’ it scarcely sounds better than anything, let alone sounding like it’s actually ‘something’.

However, something is better than nothing. A lot of things are better than some things, and many things are better than a lot of things. Combined we can create great things, great change and a positive climate impact.

Transforming small actions today towards positive climate action for tomorrow is not impossible. And with it, we make the future possible.