COP in or COP out: The lead up to COP 26 (part 2)

So far, you haven’t had to leave the couch, or even the bed if you’ve been hiding under the doona in despair. Now it’s time to get a bit more active in your everyday choices. Taking conscious control over your choices is good for the spirit and the planet!

7. Shop local: Find your local farmer’s market, farm gate outlets, veggie box delivery schemes, bulk whole foods, community co-ops, or fruit, veg and grocery suppliers. Ask where the produce comes from. Buy in season and benefit from fresher more nutritious food (it’s also cheaper). You will reduce the emissions associated with transporting and storing produce large distances. Avoid products that need to be flown internationally.  

8. Cook more plant-based meals. Organic and bio-dynamic growers are more likely to be using practices that help to sequester carbon into the soil. Cook from scratch rather than using pre-prepared plant-based products whenever possible. Source quality meat less often from growers using regenerative agriculture practices, instead of cheaper meat more frequently.

9. Ditch the plastic: Plastic is everywhere and hard to avoid. Most of us are prepared to bring our own coffee cup or refillable water bottle, but take another look at what is coming into your home with your weekly shopping, often in unnecessary packaging. Bigger purchases also provide an opportunity to reduce the plastic coming into your home, either in the product itself, or the packaging it comes in. Look for quality items that will last longer, have recyclable parts, or a system in place for return at the end of their life cycle. Fossil fuel companies are counting on an increase in plastic consumption to offset falling fuel demand – don’t give them the satisfaction!

10. Grow something: In recent history, growing food has become a revolutionary act! Even if you don’t have easy access to land you can grow bean sprouts on the bench, or herbs on the windowsill. Find your local community garden. Check the regulations for verge or nature strip planting in your area. Alternatively plant some flowers for the bees and insects to enjoy, as well as adding a little beauty to everyday. Take part in tree planting days, or offset your carbon consumption via tree planting programs.

11. No more food waste to landfill: Food waste in landfill contributes a significant amount of green house gas, mostly methane, as the food breaks down anaerobically under the compacted mound. Shop to a plan, use what you buy, store leftovers in a visible place in the fridge and use them up. For unavoidable ‘waste’ set up a worm-farm or compost system. Many councils run workshops and even subsidise home systems (although making your own is easy). If you are not able to compost at home, many community gardens will process kitchen waste, or there are share waste apps (like dating apps for compost).

12. Join your local climate action/permaculture/community/transition street group. Find your tribe! Being part of a community that is supportive and engaged helps to create momentum for action and reduces burnout, as well as being a great social outlet and supporting good mental health.

You might notice recycling is not on this list. Recycling is important, but is the last resort for a resource that has lost its usefulness. It’s much better to prevent the need for recycling in the first place.

This list is not exhaustive. There are many ways you can reduce your personal carbon footprint, AND advocate for action at a national level. Once you start you will be part of the solution to the urgent challenge facing the planet. Instead of kicking the can down the road, the time for climate action is now.

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