Climate Change: 5 eating & buying tips to help reduce carbon footprint

The Extinction Rebellion environmental activists kitchen prepare for their Earth Day feed the 5 thousand meal for all Londoners using donated food at Marble Arch as Metropolitan Police...

The Committee on Climate Change suggests five ways to be more environmentally friendly with eating and buying.

The Committee on Climate Change wants the UK to become a world leader on environmental issues by reaching nearly net zero emissions by 2050.

In a report published by the CCC, there are a number of recommendations given to help reduce each person's individual carbon footprint and achieve this overall target.

A shift in public behaviour could significantly decrease the country's carbon emissions. But we all need to start actively seeking environmentally-friendly alternatives to our everyday activities.

Here are five recommended eating and buying actions that the CCC advises people to follow in order to help lower their carbon footprint.

Healthier diet

Automatic milking of cows in a shed at the OkaMoloko dairy farm, part of the EkoNiva agricultural holding. Alexander Ryumin

The CCC says: Eat a healthy diet, for example with less beef, lamb and dairy.

Veganism has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years and is considered synonymous with the environmental movement.

Adopting green and leafy imagery has been a captivating marketing strategy but the underlying message behind the movement stresses the importance of economical eating.

The CCC does not ask people to go vegan. It does not even ask people to become vegetarian. But if everyone made a conscious effort to eat less lamb and beef and consume dairy products less often, then they would start reducing their carbon footprint.

Also, we should try to eat locally sourced food products, rather than relying on products being shipped and flown from abroad.

Recycle food waste

The mess left by an urban red fox which has learned to open a domestic food bin on a residential street, on 15th April 2019, in London, England.

The CCC says: Eliminate food waste as far as possible and make sure that you use separate food waste collections if available. Reduce, reuse and recycle your other waste too.

Every household will inevitably accumulate food waste. But cooking meals to exact portions and using leftovers prevents unnecessary excess food waste.

If your area has a food waste collection service, this should be used to separate food waste from regular waste. When collected, food waste is recycled by turning it into compost or via anaerobic digestion. This process uses microorganisms to break down food waste and turn it into methane gas which can be used for electricity.

This is why it is important to differentiate between food waste and normal household waste; rather than needlessly sitting on a landfill, food waste can be productively recycled.

The same is to be said for general waste. If it does not need to be thrown out, avoid it. And ensure that recyclables are distinguished from general waste when throwing things out.

Peat-free compost

Using peat free compost in the garden, UK.

The CCC says: Use only peat-free compost.

Just like non-renewable energy sources, peat is a natural resource which is being stripped away. Peat is found in peatlands or peat bogs but over the years, it has been extracted much quicker than its slow regrowth rate.

Because of the shortage of peat, the UK government that home gardeners can only use peat-free compost after 2020 and this will extend to commercial gardeners after 2030, according to Which.

In the meantime, it would be prudent to make the transition to peat-free compost. For the casual gardener, this will only have to be a conscious decision for the next few months but it is important to preserve as much as possible while we can.

Repair rather than replace

The CCC says: Choose good quality products that will last, use them for longer and try to repair before you replace.

In line with what was mentioned above regarding recycling, items and products should be repaired or reused before being replaced or disregarded.

Materialism in today's society unfortunately breeds a 'throwaway' generation. People become so obsessed with following the latest fashion and trends that their previous purchases become redundant, even though they are perfectly functioning.

Learning how to fix things can also save money and help reduce waste. You should choose durable products when purchasing but if something has a minor fault, then repairing it would be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than replacing it.

This DIY attitude is less common these days. Changing public behaviour with this regard could be difficult but initiatives like hand-me-downs and donating to charity shops should be encouraged.

Sharing power tools

A concept 3-D battery for a Stanley Black & Decker drill at Prieto Battery May 16, 2017 in Ft. Collins, Colorado. The battery case holds eight 3-D Prieto batteries.

The CCC says: Share rather than buy items like power tools that you don't use frequently. If you don't/won't use your car regularly then consider joining a car club instead.

Most households have a range of power tools but how often are they used? Unless you regularly do DIY, your black and decker drill sitting at the bottom of the shed is redundant for most of the year.

Instead, there are websites and apps where you can share power tools with people in the local area. If a job needs doing, you can still access these power tools but there doesn't need to be one per household.

Car club networks rely on a similar idea. There are companies that allow you to access a vehicle when you want, rather than owning your own car. This takes unused cars off the road but doesn't prevent the driver from accessing a vehicle when they need to use one.

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