31 July 2020
What are you doing to lead an eco-friendly life? How do you measure the impact of the steps you’re taking to reduce carbon emissions? Are you somewhat overwhelmed by the immensity of the climate crisis?
We’re bombarded nowadays with actions individuals can take to do our bit for the planet and I agree it can be overwhelming. The questions I often ask myself include: Is what I’m doing enough? Can I do more? And (crucially) what is the best way for me to invest my time and effort to have the most impact?
I recently came across a model, proposed by the environmental lawyer Farhana Yamin, in which she named 5 Fs to reduce carbon emissions. I thought it gave a very useful overview of the different aspects involved in leading an eco-friendly life, although for me it was missing a sixth F, which I subsequently added to the model:
Ideally, this means switching to a plant-based diet. Failing that, reducing meat consumption and other carbon emissions involved in the production of the food we purchase, which goes a long way to making our food choices more environmentally-friendly. For example, by buying local, seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables (which are not wrapped in plastic), or by growing our own.
When we talk about fashion, we tend to think of clothes (see an excellent post on fast fashion here). But fashion also relates to anything which is ‘trendy’, be it consumer electronics, cars, furniture and other home items, and so on. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle means, before buying something new, we consider alternative options, such as those nearer the base of the pyramid in the buyerarchy of needs:
This point actually relates to any form of motorised transport, although flying is clearly the one most associated with high carbon emissions. Reducing the number of flights we take each year (or taking a no-fly pledge) helps the environment, as does switching from petrol/diesel-fuelled car travel to cycling or using public transport.
This relates to the energy we use in our homes, either to heat them, to cool them or to power the appliances in them. Living an eco-friendly life means moving away from the burning of fossil fuels and towards the use of renewables, such as solar or wind power. Many energy providers are now 100% green, and it’s easy to make the switch from an existing provider.
Until very recently, I hadn’t realised how much impact our individual financial choices can have on the environment. We have a lot more control over how our money is invested than we probably think. Putting our money into ethical banks and building societies, socially-responsible pensions and savings funds, and sustainable stocks and shares can make a huge difference.
The previous 5 Fs are all about actions the individual can take to lead an eco-friendly life, but the real magic occurs when other people get on board. If we can cultivate friendships, grow our tribe and influence our followers, then we may achieve the 3.5% of peaceful civil resistance needed to make fundamental change happen. Share this post and let your friends know what you’re doing!
What steps can you take now?
- Choose at least one of the 6 Fs and make the changes to live a more eco-friendly life.
- Tell your friends and family what you are doing and encourage them to get on board.
- Start writing, blogging, speaking, podcasting – whatever it takes to spread the word.