Our eco resolutions for 2017

img_8320smallWe all have the power to change our habits and live more sustainably. In fact, whilst governments and businesses have a huge part to play in addressing climate change and other environmental issues, the actions of individuals are also crucial. With this in mind, we asked Grantham Institute staff and students to share their climate or environment-related resolutions for the year ahead.

Feel inspired to make a resolution of your own? Share on twitter using #ecoresolutions.

A planet-friendly diet

I will refrain from eating beef.
Prof Jo Haigh, Co-Director
A recent study showed that beef requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken and 11 times more water; also it results in five times more greenhouse gas emissions. Some suggest that the most significant intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would be to eat significantly less red meat. I don’t eat meat every day anyway, but I don’t want to become a strict vegetarian, so this seems like a step in the right direction.

During the day a brown cow rests on the farm pastures

Starting in 2017, I want to eliminate dairy products from my diet as much as possible.
Clea Kolster, SSCP DTP PhD student and Ecotarian
I have already taken red meat out of my diet for over a year now because of the damaging effect livestock production has on our environment and I have seen people around me become more conscious of this issue as a result of asking me about my choice. I’d like to see if eliminating dairy from my diet can have the same effect on my surroundings and push forward in the fight against the inefficient over consumption and production of livestock. 

This year I’m taking meat off the menu three evenings a week.
Prof Richard Templer, Director of Innovation
I currently have a meat-free dinner two days a week. I know that reducing meat consumption has a big impact on reducing greenhouse emissions so I’m challenging myself to go one step further.

I’m swapping meat for vegetables and seafood on three days a week
Oliver Schmidt, PhD student, SSCP DTP
I grew up eating meat every day, I love the taste of it and previously thought I needed it to maintain an active lifestyle. But, meat production is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and the destruction of biodiversity, so I want to change my habits. I think displacing red meat in particular will make my diet a lot healthier as well.

In 2017 I am going to grow as much of my own fruit, veg and herbs as possible.
Sophie Smith, Project manager – Education
As a greengrocer’s granddaughter I’ve long been aware of the benefits of local, seasonal produce. It’s good for your health, the local economy and the environment. Like most Londoners I don’t have a huge garden, but there’s plenty of room for tubs of tomatoes, potatoes & courgettes, a bin of carrots and a fence to grow some runner beans up. Salad leaves, chillies and herbs will have pride of place in the kitchen. I’m also going to enlist my green fingered friends, so we can share our carefully nurtured harvest.

What a waste

Take-out coffee cup

My resolution will be to use a reusable coffee cup at work.
Dr Mirabelle Muûls, Grantham Lecturer in Economics
Not only does a disposable cup need to be produced and delivered to College, once used it has to be transported and either recycled or dumped. It therefore has impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, waste problems, pollution etc. Using a reusable coffee cup is a small step, but by taking it I hope I encourage others to do the same, and then make some more incremental changes myself.

I want to reduce food waste by planning our meals.
Dr Tamaryn Napp,  Research Associate
As a new mum, I often find myself resorting to meals where a lot of the preparation has been done for me. I’m embarrassed to say it but I often end up throwing away good food because I haven’t been organised enough to cook it. This year, I want to make an effort to routinely plan our family meals so that we eat more healthily and reduce waste.

Positive energy

Wind Turbines - Series

My resolution is to change energy provider to one with more renewables in their energy mix.
Dr Erik van Sebille, Grantham Lecturer in Oceanography and Climate Change
Changing energy supplier can be a real hassle. When we signed the contract for our current apartment, it was easiest to simply keep the energy supplier that the previous tenants had. However, there is a huge spread in how ‘green’ energy suppliers are, and by choosing one that focusses on renewables, we will vote with our wallets for a greener energy system.

I want to spend this year collecting data about the sustainability of my new home and then figuring out how to make it better
Alyssa Gilbert, Head of Policy and Translation
I am excited to be moving into a house with my family, but it looks like it hasn’t been decorated or refurbished since I was born. As a house owner I intend to use my power to tackle the leaky walls, inefficient radiators as well as some style atrocities. I really want to be able to practise what I preach and make changes to the house that make a difference environmentally whilst still being affordable.

Getting from A to B sustainably

Kris with his bike
Kris cycled to Paris for UN climate conference (COP21) in Dec 2015

I’m going to see how many EU flights I can replace by train and bike.
Dr Kris Murray, Grantham Lecturer in Ecological Health
Taking more time to get more actively from A to B has so many advantages. It’s more civilised, more comfortable and productive, whether you want to work en route or relax a bit. It reminds you how far you’re actually travelling. It forces you to slow down, just a little, and take in some scenery. It’s better for the planet. It’s better for your health – active travel is one way to reverse the death sentence of sitting around all day. If all this sounds too hard, you should probably just teleconference! 

In 2017 I’d like to cut my family’s car use by making more local trips by train.
Ajay Gambhir, Senior Research Fellow
In 2016 I had a lot of success in making sure we mostly have LED lights around the house, as well as insulation wherever possible, so our annual energy (gas and electricity) bill, at about £800, is much lower than the UK average of about £1,400. Next year I’d like to get our carbon footprint even lower by making sure we make more of our local trips by train rather than car, to see if we can get our annual mileage below 5,000 (the UK average is about 8,000).

My eco resolution for 2017 is to walk to and from Imperial every day (2 miles each way), no public transport, no taxi, no jetpack.
Luciana Miu, PhD student, SSCP DTP
I think that active travel is a great way to keep healthy and avoid even a little bit of transport-related emissions. Last year I won an award from the Scottish Government for taking 0 public transport and walking a total of 661 miles in 6 weeks, including some stunning trails along the Scottish coast. It remains to be seen whether London lends itself to walking as well as Scotland did!

I will continue using public transport for all local journeys with my family.
– Dr Laila Read, Project Manager.
We haven’t had a car for the last two months and have managed surprisingly well. Although we intend to purchase a car in January for longer journeys, I want to keep up the habit of taking public transport for trips closer to home.

Climate chat

I’m going to start more conversations with family and friends about climate change and sustainability.
Alex Franklin-Cheung. Digital Communications Officer
I’m passionate about environmental issues and discuss them at length with colleagues, but outside work I’m sometimes scared to bring them up in conversation, mainly out of fear of sounding too ‘preachy’. I think these topics are important – so I’m vowing to break the silence and find new ways to chat about climate and sustainability with those around me.

We’ll be catching up with our staff and students later in the year to see how they’re getting on with their pledges. In the meantime, we wish you a very happy (and sustainable) 2017!

3 thoughts on “Our eco resolutions for 2017

  1. For those people giving up dairy products, be warned that this can have an impact on bone development and maintance. An alternative source of calcium is really important and easily overlooked.

    1. I have also found that some milk-alternatives don’t mix well in coffee and tea. My favourite one so far is an oat milk called Provitamil Oat Milk. Cheese alternatives I’ll never get though!

    2. Thank you for your comment Susan. It is true that calcium is crucial to one’s every day diet but it is wrong to assume that this only or mainly comes from dairy products. There is a lot of calcium in a variety of fruits , vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains. I personally also get a good amount of calcium from the dairy free alternatives such as soy milk and almond milk. Almonds alone are a very good source of calcium, so are chia seeds, broccoli, soy beans, chinese cabbage, mustard greens, kale – all ingredients that you can easily insert into your daily diet and taste very good! In a typical diet one should consume between 500 – 1000 mg of calcium per day – check out this link for a list of calcium sources http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.php. Hope this helps!

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