It can be easy to wait for governments and businesses to face up to the challenges of climate change and other environmental issues. However, individual action has a big part to play in protecting the planet. Small changes to our daily habits can make a big difference. At the end of last year, Grantham Institute staff and students made a climate or environment related resolution for the year ahead. With just a few months of 2017 left, take a look at how they got on…
Professor Joanna Haigh, Grantham Institute Co-director
Eco-resolution: “A planet-friendly diet: I will refrain from eating beef.”
I have eaten no beef since the New Year. This has actually been quite easy – I haven’t missed it at all with only the occasional embarrassment of asking people what they are offering and then turning it down. However, it has been quite hard for my husband, whose menu often revolves around minced beef and whose favourite dish is Roman Beef Stew. We are still happily married.
Alyssa Gilbert, Head of Policy and Translation
Eco-resolution: “I want to spend this year collecting data about the sustainability of my new home and then figuring out how to make it better.”
We made a start on this resolution in by doing the fun things first and saving the measurement and rigour for later! We immediately switched our energy supplier (yes, both gas and electricity) for the greenest tariff so that what we use has the lowest carbon footprint. Then, we updated our electricity supply, fitting a cable to the loft ready for the installation of solar panels at a later date. Finally, we installed a remote application for controlling our heating and hot water, which means we can manage our heating and hot water needs daily depending on our use. The next step is to really understand where we could improve our carbon footprint. My first guess is that some windows need replacing and our old second hand fridge needs to go… And I am hoping to install solar panels next year.
Dr Erik van Sebille, Honorary Grantham Lecturer in Oceanography and Climate Change
Eco-resolution: “My resolution is to change energy provider to one with more renewables in their energy mix.”
I’ve done it! We’re now with a 100% renewable electricity company, and even own a small part of a wind generator. Admittedly, it was quite easy to keep this resolution, as moving to Netherlands meant I had to find new energy providers anyway. There’s quite a range of 100% renewable options here in Netherlands, and we chose the one that is, as of this season, also sponsor of my football club, Feyenoord. This is just coincidence though, as they were also the greenest, but does it mean I can now watch TV without feeling guilty?!
Professor Richard Templer, Director of Innovation
Eco-resolution: “This year I’m taking meat off the menu three evenings a week.”
Taking meat off the menu three times a week has turned out to be quite easy. I love Indian and Italian food, and both have a plethora of vegetarian dishes, so I have been steadily working my way through old favourites and discovering new ones. At the risk of being accused of advertising, I have been enjoying going through Meera Sodha’s Indian recipes, and some old favourites from Marcella Hazan. Given how easy this has been I almost feel guilty about it – shouldn’t it be harder to do some personal good?
Ajay Gambhir, Senior Research Fellow
Eco-resolution: “In 2017 I’d like to cut my family’s car use by making more local trips by train.”
My goal was to travel less than 5,000 miles by car. So far we’ve done about 3,000 miles, including two long UK holiday trips, so I think we’ll make it. It’s been relatively easy to do this because I’ve become quite obsessed with the step counter on my watch and making sure I do around 10,000 per day. There’s a slight competition with my wife on this one, so there’s always a reason not to use the car for the school run or local trips! I think going much below this level is going to be difficult though, which is why, like Ben Van Beurden, CEO at Shell, my next car will be electric.
Alex Franklin-Cheung, Digital Communications Officer
Eco-resolution: “I’m going to start more conversations with family and friends about climate change and sustainability.”
When I first made my eco resolution I felt a sense of mild trepidation. Was I signing up for 12 months of awkward conversations? What unpalatable views might I uncover and how would I deal with them? Instead, I’ve been relieved to find that those around me generally agree that climate change is a real problem that needs addressing. Having said that, the enormity of the topic can be a bit of a conversation killer. As a result I’ve adapted my approach and have had far more success in engaging people with climate change via issues that matter to them on a personal level, whether that’s air pollution in their local area, the effects of plastic pollution on wildlife, going vegan or their electricity bill.
Eco-resolution: “I’m swapping meat for vegetables and seafood on three days a week.”
I am still managing to keep up those three meat-free days a week. Along the way, I’ve discovered new dishes (like pasta with shrimp, tomato and basil) and have revived old treats, like the good old German “Brotzeit” (bread with butter, salt, quark, cheese, marmalade, etc).
Have you made any lifestyle changes to help address climate change and other environmental issues?