Five Small(ish) Changes with a BIG Effect

What are five small(ish) changes you can make with a big effect on your carbon footprint?

HOME & LIVING

Liz de Vries

5/19/2022 4 min read

Do you ever wonder which of the small(ish) changes you make to reduce your carbon footprint will have the biggest effect? We were curious to find out too, so we investigated, and here are our favourite five small BIG changes.

1. Change banks

Can your bank be trusted with your hard earned dollars? If you’re concerned about climate change and the future of our planet, can you in all honesty tolerate banking with a company that still invests in fossil fuels, live cattle export, gambling industry, or weapons of mass destruction? Telling your bank that you want them to look carefully and consciously after the future of the planet is one of the most effective small changes you can make.

You can do two things: contact your bank and let them know how you would prefer them to invest your money (yes, it’s your money!), or, vote with our feet and move your money to a bank with transparent ethical and sustainable investing policies.

Changing banks is much easier than you might think. Most banks allow you to apply for a new account online, and once that’s done all you need to do is ensure your automatic payments come out of your new account. After that you can close your old account.

These are some of Australia’s better known banks who don’t invest in fossil fuels:

There are many more banks to choose from. Check out the comprehensive list compiled by Market Forces, an Australian organisation who have analysed which banks still invest in fossil fuels, and which banks don’t. And read the Don’t Bank on the Bomb Report by PAX, an analysis of the banks who invest in weapons of mass destruction. A third helpful resource is RIAA’s Responsible Returns website, which has a tool to help you choose the best bank for you.

2. Move your Super to an ethical fund

Have you ever considered what happens with your Super and where your Superfund invests your dollars?

Boring, we know - but the majority of Australia’s Superfunds still invest in fossil fuels, gambling, gun manufacturing, and other industries with a less than sustainable outlook for Planet Earth.

Whether they like it or not, the investment-tide is turning on these industries, so it makes good economic sense to choose a Superfund which invests in planet-positive industries such as renewables, inclusive housing and animal welfare, and who don’t invest in fossil fuels, nuclear and animal cruelty.

The following Super options get the green tick from MarketForces:

3. Change to a renewables provider

Even if you don’t own the home you live in, you can still get your electricity from a renewable source by switching to one of the growing number of green electricity companies. Lucky for us, Greenpeace has done the hard yards in finding the best green electricity providers out there at the moment to compile their Green Electricity Guide. Contact any of these organisations today to make the change.

The current top five in Australia according to Greenpeace are:

4. Eat more plant-based

The statistics around the industrial agriculture that provides us with most of our food, and especially our meat eating habits, are just staggering.

According to Our World in Data whilst half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture, a massive 77% of that half is used for grazing animals or for animal feed production (i.e. the food for the animals we end up eating). However, while livestock only produces 18% of the world’s calories (and 37% of total protein).

The expansion of agricultural land has been one of mankind’s largest impacts on the environment. It poses enormous pressure on biodiversity and is a listed threat for 85% of all 28,000 species deemed threatened with extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Imagine how different all this would be if we ate less meat! We’d be able to feed more people, agricultural greenhouse gases would be reduced and fewer animals would suffer.

Many people are afraid that they won’t get sufficient protein from their diet if they eat less meat. But we derive protein from many plant-based sources: seeds, wholegrains, nuts, pulses and green leafy vegetables. Often our so called ‘Western’ diets actually mostly lacks dietary fibre (which we derive from… you guessed it: plants!).

5. Consider your transport options

In our oh so busy lives, it’s too easy to quickly hop in the car to do our errands, school drop offs and pick ups, and our grocery shopping.

Do you ever consider if you really need the car all the time?

  • Can you walk the children to school or preschool?

  • Could you walk to the shops to get groceries?

  • Have you ever looked into the available public transport options in your area?

  • Would you consider using a car-sharing app such as GoGet?

  • Can you share your commute with a colleague?

  • Would you consider active transport options (walk, ride) for your commute?

  • Are you in for a new car? Working out whether to buy a petrol, electric or hybrid car? Read this recent blog by Elise Caterall from Planet Ark, in which she explains her rationale for choosing a second hand hybrid car.

  • Holidays coming up? Instead of booking that cruise or the flights with the ginormous carbon footprint, would you consider staying slightly closer to home and going on a road/camping trip?

So there you have it, our five favourite small(ish) changes with the biggest effect. Making thoughtful, conscious decisions about how we consume is a big step forward.

Image via Unsplash.