By Fleur Howe – Environmental Editor
It’s officially the new year and, while it may be a new you, it’s still the same planet; whilst it’s never too late to reinvent yourself, the Earth does not have the same luxury. 2021 was the world’s fifth hottest year on record the time to act is now. So, let’s consider some environmental resolutions and goals for the year.
It isn’t easy to tackle the entire planet’s future single-handedly, but it’s more damaging is doing nothing at all. First resolution is to fix your mindset; whilst two thirds of the global greenhouse gas emissions are sourced in big companies, it is easy to think that individual contribution does not matter; don’t forget that consumers fuel companies. From what you use to heat your house with, to what you wear, and what you eat, every aspect of your life has an impact on the environment whether you acknowledge it or not. It is time to consider what you buy and who you are buying it from.
If your resolution this year was to save money, do this buy debating the things you spend money on until you are convinced it’s worth it. Is that shirt going to be something you wear more than once a month? Is it something you will want next year and the year after? Will it last that long? What is it made out of? Is it a polyblend? If it is, that is going to add to micro-plastics in the ocean; is that worth it or could I get it second hand? Do I need it? It is so easy to spend carelessly, to ignore the bigger picture, but when you consider that the fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water, is it worth the short gratification to shorten the planet’s life.
Wanting to get fitter this year? Let’s start walking to work. Typically, a car emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is a pretty terrifying statistic considering how much we rely on them to function daily. Not everyone has the luxury of being within walking distance of their job, but a bike is a whole lot cheaper than a car. If it is still too, far public transport is still a far better option. Besides being a healthier choice for the planet, walking everyday is an easy way to improve cardiovascular health as well as releasing endorphins and improving cognitive function; it’s a win-win.
Diet resolutions are always an obsession for the first month. Despite every company coming out with a new healthy range for January to be forgotten by February, maybe this year instead we could assess our diet’s impact on the environment. The meat and dairy industry are one of the biggest water consumers whilst contributing incredulously to deforestation. The land mass needed to care for the number of animals in the industry is astronomical; to put it into context it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, but only 25 gallons of water are required to grown 1 pound of wheat making it extremely inefficient. Cutting out meat entirely isn’t an option for most people, but decreasing the amount of meat and dairy is one of the best things an individual can do for the environment. Beyond water waste, ammonia from farms is responsible for 60% of the UK’s particulate air pollution. From the combination of nitrogen fertilisers and ammonia from livestock manure, the industry as a whole is excessively inefficient in its wastage. While it may not be easy or cheap to change your eating habits, changing is a necessity.
No matter in what aspect of life, you have to consider yourself as an active consumer. Everything you do fuels an industry; it is impossible to avoid. From what you wear, how you travel, or what you eat, everything has an impact and it is your responsibility to understand and decide what you want to contribute to. This year our resolutions should be to care not just for ourselves but for our environment as well.