Living Within Our Means


19.05.2021

We’ve all heard the term “sustainability” thrown around increasingly over the past few years. But it’s so much more than just a buzzword or a marketing term for corporations and big organisations to use without actually committing to any real change. Whilst the majority of responsibility lies with these companies, governments, and organisations, (the Carbon Majors report found that just 100 companies cause over 70% of global emissions) there’s still some pretty major lifestyle changes that we as individuals can adopt in order to help. 

Living Within Our Means

But after learning of the damage a minority of people have inflicted upon the world, why should WE change? There’s a very straightforward answer to that; we cannot maintain our ecosystems, our quality of life or the diversity of species on Earth unless we change. We will inevitably run out of fossil fuels. Millions of animal and plant species will be lost forever. We will damage our planet and atmosphere beyond repair – but only if we don’t change. The root of this change lies within us. We must strive for sustainability in our homes, communities and governments around the world. So where do we start? 

Meat Me Half-Way 

Arguably, the biggest change an individual can make is to switch to a plant-based diet. Factory farming is responsible for 37% and 65% of our global methane and nitrous oxide emissions respectively. Both of these gases are much more potent than carbon dioxide. This is without even mentioning the suffering it causes to tens of billions of animals each year. However, you don’t have to become fully vegan or vegetarian to make a difference. Just by cutting down the amount of meat that you can consume goes a long way. Perhaps make meat-free Mondays a regular choice, or switch from more damaging meats like beef to lower impact ones like chicken.  

Shop Local 

As convenient and cheap as amazon is, it’s not doing our local community businesses or our environment any favours. In 2018 it emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere, which is roughly equal to the annual emissions of the entire country of Norway. If you want to shop local it’s not that difficult. Literally just type shop local *Input your city or town name here* into a search engine and you’d be surprised at what you can find. It has a myriad of benefits from supporting local economies, to creating jobs and reducing our carbon footprint. For example, if everyone in Swansea spent £5 more each week in their local high street this would generate £53million a year for the Swansea economy. You’d be surprised at how competitive prices can be in your local area and small businesses often stock locally made items that you can’t get anywhere else. Don’t underestimate the positive difference shopping locally can make.  

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle 

Everyone has heard this mantra by now, but it’s often not fully understood. Reducing our waste is a huge concern, the UK produces around 31 million tonnes of it a year – which is equivalent to the weight of three and a half million double decker buses. By doing things like switching from single use to re-usable items we can make a big difference and it also saves us a lot of money in the long run. Even when it comes to things that we might want to throw away, it’s best to think if there’s another use you can imagine for it. For example, if you had to change a tyre on your car, rather than opting for a potentially risky repair, you could reuse that tyre as a planter for a garden.  

There are a myriad of different ways to live a more sustainable life, from opting for trains instead of planes, to growing your own food and protecting our outdoor spaces. From the moment we get out of bed, we are making decisions that impact the planet. Things like how much water we use in the shower, the source of our lunch and the modes of transportation we use to get around are all small but important things to consider. Our personal actions may not seem like much in the short-term, but they add up. By setting an example of sustainable living we can change the way people think and interact with the world in which we live. People will argue that individual choices are meaningless, whilst others will argue that we all have to do everything we can. Neither of these are approaches are sufficient. We all need to participate, that’s for sure, but personal choices alone won’t solve our sustainability issues. We need leaders who put a price on carbon and who stand up for future as well as current generations.  

 

By Bradley Sloanes 

Lampeter Campus Intern - Canolfan Tir Glas initiative

 

Bradley Sloanes

Further Information

Lowri Thomas, Principal Communications and PR Officer

07449 998476 

lowri.thomas@uwtsd.ac.uk