CTF blog: Time to get climate-smart?2021-01-19
Is it possible to be climate-smart, save money and feel better? Actually, yes! Here are a few tips on what to think about, and some steps that are worth trying out at the dawn of the new year.
Climate-smart, do this mean that I have to give up everything that is fun? I enjoy my steak and spending my vacation in the sun, and the car is very handy to manage everyday logistics. Sometimes it may sound like we have to become vegan, sell the car and cancel all air travel to qualify and to join the group who takes responsibility for the environment and future generations.
This is not the case. It is possible to reduce your environmental impact radically without making life meager and boring, and gradual changes makes it more manageable. After taking the first step, more might follow. In our teaching, we challenge the students to change their behavior during one week. In retrospect, we often hear that they continued the new behavior after discovering that it was easier than they expected, money saving and it made them feel better.
Here are some examples of solutions that significantly will reduce the impact on the environment, and at the same time save you money. Take a look to see which ones feel the most reasonable for you and try it for a while, completely or in part. Remember, every kilogram of carbon dioxide matters!
1. Halve your air travel. When we are not in the middle of a pandemic, do you usually fly twice a year? Choose to fly once, or choose a shorter trip. A trip from Sweden to the sun in Spain halves emissions compared to a flight to Thailand. It does not have to be more drastic than going back to how we travelled in the nineties.
2. Halve your meat consumption. Meat is a big part of food’s impact on the climate. A large part of imported meat to Sweden is produced with big amounts of antibiotics, which increases the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria. An outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be far more serious than the pandemic we are currently experiencing. Consuming half the amount of meat sounds like a big change, but is just going back to the consumption habits of the nineties. Today, it is easy to find simple and delicious vegetarian recipes and vegetarian products of high quality.
3. Halve your food waste. The impact of food waste is six to eight percent of the global climate impact. Plan better; use the leftovers in the fridge such as salsa, cream, overripe bananas, in stews, omelets and smoothies. Make a leftover buffet once a week if you have a lot of leftovers.
4. Drive more environmentally. If you cannot afford or have the opportunity to buy an electric car, buy a more fuel-efficient car. A car that use 30 percent less gas reduces both the cost of fuel and has less climate impact.
5. Bicycle more. Consider whether it is possible to replace some of your car journeys with the bicycle. Try an electric bike, it offers completely new possibilities. You do not have to reach your destination all sweaty, and with a trailer to you can transport smaller children and grocery bags without any problems. The household economy will benefit greatly if it is possible to replace a car with one or more electric bikes. Many people also experience well-being when using a bicycle in their everyday life.
6. Consume less. Consider whether you can reduce your consumption of clothes and gadgets. Can you buy less clothing but with higher quality? Reduce impulse purchases by waiting a week between impulse and purchase. Choose more energy-efficient appliances when it is time to replace them.
When you have made one or more changes, it is time to sum up how much money you have saved. For many households, this can sum up to quite large amounts every year. In addition to a good conscience, the most fun thing about being more climate-smart is to plan how to spend the money you saved.
What would you and members in your household benefit from? Less working hours or a cleaning service to get more recovery time? Having dinner at a restaurant more often, once the pandemic has eased, or enjoying a relaxing massage? A part might even be spent on charity. Spending a small amount on a charity every month can make a difference. Research shows that we feel better when we give to others, the effect will be double.
Don´t forget that every little step counts. Take the step you feel will work the best for you and be proud of it. Tomorrow you can take a new step towards a world where our grandchildren can live a good life.
Fredrik Wikström, Associate Professor of Environmental and Energy Systems
Helén Williams, Associate Professor of Environmental and Energy Systems