As part of our series of articles exploring climate change, we’ve compiled the following list of ‘climate tips’ – easy ways for regular local people to be planet-friendly, by reducing their carbon footprint. And in most cases, save money at the same time!
These steps on their own won’t crack the problem – we also need to battle for major shifts in government policy, and in the practices of big business. But they represent ways in which each of us can play our part – small sensible steps towards a very different future.
Please submit your own ideas and tips, and we’ll share them too.
1. Eating less meat is a key way to reduce your carbon footprint – but if going vegan or vegetarian seems like too big a leap, could you do it one day per week, or one meal per day?
2. Food waste has a big environmental impact, and costs us all money. Do everything you can to throw away less food, and both the planet and your bank balance will thank you. And consider signing up for this local food waste scheme: click here.
3. Buying fruit, vegetables, and other foods ‘in season’
seriously reduces your carbon footprint: it saves things being shipped around the world to get to us. Check out websites like this one
to find out more. Even better, grow your own fruit and veg: get inspired by Barbara’s story on page 13 of this month’s newspaper (click here
4. We can all be more environmental by buying less new stuff: hit the charity shops (to buy and donate stuff), and/or choose to buy second-hand or refurbished goods on websites like ebay and gumtree; you’ll save a load of money, and be helping the planet.
5. There are also some great local projects – like Leeds Wood Recycling in Holbeck, and Seagulls Reuse on Kirkstall Road – working hard to reduce waste, and selling useful things like wood and paint back to the community, on the cheap. Perfect for eco-friendly DIY!
6. Clothing makes up 5% of the UK’s carbon footprint, and we throw away 300,000 tons of clothes (worth £12bn) every year: yikes. Check out projects like Leeds Clothing Exchange, or hold a clothes swap event with your friends.
7. More and more people are getting back into fixing things, instead of throwing them away. Check out Leeds Repair Cafe for practical support or even just inspiration – they hold monthly events in the city centre, including a major ‘Big Fix’ event this month, on Saturday 15 February at Kirkgate Market.
8. Save money by getting books from the libraries, instead of forking out for new books online or in bookshops. Leeds Libraries have 100,000s of books – and as of last autumn, there are no fines for late return of books.
is a great planet-friendly way to travel – and to save money, and get healthy. But even bikes have a carbon footprint. If you’re looking to buy a bike, or have an old one to give away, visit the Bikes College
in nearby Wortley – a popular community business who refurbish thousands of unwanted bikes each year, then sell them on at knockdown prices. Or you can borrow bikes from the local Bike Libraries
10. Once you’re on your bike, you might need to get it fixed once in a while! Pedallers Arms on Mabgate Green in town is a great volunteer-led project for people to fix up their bikes for free or cheap.
11. Using public transport is also great for reducing your environmental impact. The companies have their failings, but check out deals like the First Bus group tickets (starting at £6 for unlimited travel for 5 people), and Northern Rail are running several cheap ticket deals via the YEP and other means at the moment (click here).
12. If you currently drive to work, you could halve your commuting footprint by car-sharing with a colleague or neighbour: check out websites like Lift Share to find your match. Or walk to and from work once a week – to get fit, help cut congestion, and make the planet happy.
13. Many people see electric scooters (see main picture) as a key technology for a low-carbon future. They’re small, cost as little as £150 (then only about 15p per charge), then can typically get you 10 miles, at up to 20mph.
14. Many of us don’t fly much or ever – but if you do, please be aware that this is probably the single biggest contributor to your carbon footprint, of anything you do! More and more people are choosing to fly less
: could you do the same? More info here
15. Did you know: microwaves are a far more energy efficient way to cook than gas or electric ovens and hobs? And kettles are very energy-intensive: only boil as much water as you need! You’ll also save on your fuel bills.
16. For most of us, about a third of our carbon footprint comes from heating our homes. Turn down the thermostat, put on a jumper, and look forward to cheaper fuel bills! There are also loads of ways (some of them very cheap) to insulate your home: look online for ideas.
17. We can all help boost renewable energies like wind and solar power – simply by switching to eco-friendly energy companies like Octopus, Ecotricity, Good Energy, and Bulb. (Some other companies pose as planet-friendly, but their green credentials are very questionable.)
18. Hang out your laundry! Tumble dryers are typically the most energy-consuming appliance in our homes, so we can all help the planet, and save money, by using them less.
are unsung heroes of our food systems, locally and nationally – playing a crucial role in the pollination of plants and crops everywhere. But they need our help: sowing wild flowers in your garden is one easy way to do so. More info here
20. If you want to help plant trees
, contact local charity TCV at Hollybush
to get involved. Or donate to acclaimed charities like the Woodland Trust, Trees for Life, Cool Earth, or Tree Aid.
21. A local family report that buying wetsuits (£10-15 each from charity shops) was one of the best things they’ve ever done, saving them money, and the planet too. They now take regular daytrips and breaks around the UK, and swim in lakes and the sea without freezing to death – so they no longer crave overseas holidays.
Good luck all – and remember, please feel free to tell us your tips, and we’ll share them!