Climate Concern: 10 Ways Individuals can Act with Impact

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At Gather Round, we have awesome members who are inspiring change and helping both businesses and individuals navigate the new sustainable roadmap we need to follow in order to preserve the world for future generations. Among them is Sustainability Strategist and Consultant Jessica Ferrow, who has worked with Pukka Herbs, Ella’s Kitchen and Finisterre to name drop but a few brands on her client list.

Drawing on her decade’s worth of experience, Jessica sparked a few positive ideas in members’ minds at a recent edition of our bi-weekly Campfire Talks, when she posed the question – what does declaring a climate and ecological emergency look like for you personally, and for your business?

“It is all too easy to feel a sense of powerlessness, and assume our individual impacts will make little to no difference in the fight against large scale climate and ecological breakdown,” she says. “But we do have the power to change things. The most dangerous action we can take is doing nothing at all.”

It really got members thinking – what can we do as individuals and businesses to reduce our carbon footprint and live more sustainably, right now? What are the truly effective changes we can make to tackle the climate crisis head-on?

We asked Jessica to share her 10 ideas for individual action with impact:

1. Establish your personal carbon footprint

Knowledge is power.  It takes less than 10 mins to complete the WWF environmental footprint questionnaire, and learn how your lifestyle adds up in tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.  One tonne of CO2 emissions looks like this.  Once you’ve discovered which areas of your lifestyle emit the most carbon, you can set yourself the challenge of reducing it.

2. Switch your home energy provider

A proper green energy tariff will power your home with clean, renewable energy – and this is one of the easiest and most impactful changes we can make as individuals.  Take a moment to answer a few questions on your current energy supply, and the Big Clean Switch will recommend the best options available to you.

3. Take the Flight Free 2020 Pledge

If you fly a couple of times a year, chances are your carbon footprint will be significantly higher than the UK average.  Can you give up flying in 2020?  Think of it as the opportunity to embrace slow travel and get creative with your holiday planning: to explore the wilder reaches of Scotland on a road trip, or to be whisked away on an overnight sleeper train to Vienna, for example?  Business travel counts too – I’ve put a line in my contract with a Belgian client that I’ll only visit them by train for environmental reasons – now I love taking the Eurostar!  Take the pledge, and find more information and inspiration at Flight Free UK.

4. Cut down on meat and dairy

Vegetarian, flexitarian, casual or full-blown vegan: cutting out or eating less meat is an extremely effective way to act in line with the science, and lower your environmental impact.  There are whole bookshelves of cookbooks and online blogs with delicious, simple recipes which make vegetarian and vegan cooking easier to adopt into your routine.  Heavy hitters such as Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater all have popular plant-based cookbooks, as well as newer names like Anna Jones and Deliciously Ella.  Plus, eating out meat-free is easy in Bristol, which is overflowing with numerous vegetarian and vegan restaurants or menu options – I heartily recommend Root at Wapping Wharf!

5. Use your voice

Whether you share facts you find inspiring on social media, openly discuss your lifestyle changes with your friends, or join a climate protest: adding your voice to conversation encourages other people to join in too.  I decided to set up a podcast called Woke & Confused on sustainable lifestyles as a creative outlet and a platform to encourage people to have more conversations about sustainability.  We have a lot of fun making it and don’t take it too seriously.

6. Choose your clients carefully 

If you’re a freelancer, are you inadvertently supporting the degradation of our society and our planet through your work?  Do you help businesses with questionable ethics sell more stuff to people who don’t need it?  Take stock of your client list and their purpose and values and whether they align with your own.  If not, it might be time for a rethink.  There are loads of awesome ethical organisations out there who could do with your creative power (and your work life will feel more fulfilling too).

7. Find people who feel empowered too

Catastrophic climate change is overwhelming, and it’s way too big a burden to bear on one person’s shoulders.  Connect to and surround yourself with people who you can discuss concerns or ideas with.  It’s good for your mental health, and a great way to build positive and empowered communities.  Bristol is a powerhouse for environmental initiatives, community organisations and networking events.  Sign your organisation up to the Bristol Green Capital Partnership (it’s free) and head over to the Green Mingle on the first Thursday of the month.  I’ll probably see you there!

8. Become an activist

If you’re feeling powerless, embracing activism is a brilliant way to channel your energy into something meaningful and positive.  Find your local Extinction Rebellion meetings and communities, a great way to dip your toe in – and there is a role for absolutely everybody.  Don’t believe all the negative stuff you read in the papers, you’d be amazed at the range of people, ages and backgrounds.  The meetings are nice and friendly in tone too!

9. Reskill yourself 

Bet your granny knew how to darn socks – and I’m betting like me you probably don’t?  Same goes for traditional skills like growing and preserving food, fixing and repurposing stuff or learning outdoor skills like bushcraft.  Our consumerist culture has laid waste to so much which was used and reused before and has made us less industrious and resourceful, too.  The world is unpredictable, and I’m really keen to bone up on practical skills that I’m pretty sure will turn out to be even more useful in the future.

10. Reconnect with nature

When we’re bouncing between home, work or family commitments, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the natural world.  Spending time outdoors can help reignite your connection with nature, and when we feel an affinity with something, we feel a greater desire to protect and preserve it.  We’re so lucky in Bristol to have Ashton Court and Leigh Woods right on our doorstep.  Get out there and listen to the birds. Promise you won’t regret it.

If you want to know more about how you or your business can adapt and drive positive change in the age of a climate emergency – get in touch with Jessica.  Just remember – we all have the power to change things!

Image credit: Enviral Ltd