Climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time. It leaves many wondering what they can do to help fight it. But where to start? How much impact does it have if you take shorter showers or consume less meat? (Spoiler: one uses 45 times more water than the other, can you guess which?). Let me show you the six most impactful actions you can take to keep the planet healthy, combined with some input from the Scone team itself. If you want to do something about climate change this year, this is a really good start.
For most of us, mobility covers the largest part of our emissions footprint, making it the area of maximal change. Looking for an easy but big impact? Travel by train, car, bike or bus instead of by plane, because flying is the fastest way to warm up our planet. Every passenger on board a Boeing 747 flying from Amsterdam to New York, takes no less than four bathtubs full of kerosene. Think of it this way: with every flight not taken this year, you save about one tonne of CO₂. To compensate for that amount, an oak tree needs to grow for 31 years.
Another action with a huge impact: using your car less or not at all. A year without a car saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO₂. And every kilometre you don’t drive counts. Also, switching to a car-sharing system or an electric car makes a big difference to your footprint. Though, of course, nothing beats travelling by bicycle or walking.
How big is the profit? Six months without a car (or one flight less) will save you one tonne of CO₂. That is about 15% of the annual CO₂ emissions of the average Belgian or Dutch person.
From portobello steaks to pulled jackfruit burgers, a world of possibilities opens up when you switch to a more plant-based lifestyle. Plant-based foods have 10 to 50 times less climate impact than meat. If you eat vegan for a year, you save almost one tonne of CO₂. A plant-based diet does more than just reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. You also live a healthier life and are less likely to become chronically ill.
How big is the profit? Pretty solid. Each hamburger (beef) you do not eat will save you more than 1500 liters of water (that is around 8 bathtubs) and 1.8 kg of CO₂. Eating vegan will save you around one tonne of CO₂ annually.
As complex as the fight against the climate crisis may seem, one action is very simple: e-everything. You can buy an electric car, but that is only the beginning. Heat your home with a heat pump or replace your gas stove with induction to become a more climate-friendly chef at home. Also take a look at where your electricity comes from: switching to green energy is one of the simplest solutions to emitting less CO₂.
Want to start today? Choose a green electricity supplier and have your contract transferred.
How big is the profit? Switching to renewable electricity saves 1.6 tonnes of CO₂ per year. Renovating or converting your home also makes a big difference: on average, you save 0.9 tonnes of CO₂ per year.
Money is a powerful tool for a better planet and moving your money to green assets is a smart financial move. Research shows that half of the fossil fuels that countries or companies own will be worthless by 2036. Meanwhile, green investment funds are performing better and better. Putting your money on green pays off twice: you use your money for clean projects that benefit people and the planet and your money remains profitable in the future.
How do you get started? Check how well your bank is doing on the ethical front and encourage them to do better, or choose a bank that does not finance the climate crisis.
More and more universities, companies, and even entire countries are divesting their money. This means that you withdraw your money from shares, bonds, or investment funds that invest in polluting activities. Do you (and your company) have shares? Then check if your funds invest in fossil fuels and switch to funds or companies that have a positive impact on the world as a whole.
Start today? The Bankwijzer (Belgium) en de Eerlijke Geldwijzer (The Netherlands) show you how your bank scores on socially relevant themes such as climate change, human rights and tax evasion.
How big is the profit? It is difficult to measure individual CO₂ emissions, because your savings, together with millions of other euros, contribute to investments in fossil fuels. Yet the past has shown that banks change their course when their customers ask them to.
Because two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused directly or indirectly by households, you can take many small steps that will have a big impact, right in the comfort of your own home. When you do laundry, wash your clothes at 30 degrees Celcius (saves 0.25 tonnes of CO₂ per year) and dry them on a washing line (saves 0.21 tonnes CO₂ compared to a tumble dryer). Recycle (and save 0.21 tonnes of CO₂) and replace your lights with long-life LED lights (saves 0.1 tonnes of CO₂ compared to traditional lights).
Start today, reduce your carbon footprint and check how you can make the most impact at home.
How big is the profit? Every little bit helps. None of these actions has the impact of flying less or changing your diet, but together, they add up and reduce your carbon footprint considerably.
A better climate starts with all of us. Tackling climate change will require collective action. And that means, first and foremost: talking to each other. Because have you noticed how often there is an awkward silence when the words ‘climate change’ are mentioned between friends or colleagues? All too often, we ignore the uncomfortable feeling we have about climate change. But we have learned from previously taboo subjects such as lgbtq+ rights or mental health, that we can only take action if we learn to talk about it.
Next step? Get involved in your community. At a beginner’s level, that means voting for a party that emphasises green policies. But there’s more. Support action groups that make a political difference or use the legal system to demand justice for the planet and future generations. Building a greener world is contagious! Do you have solar panels on your roof? Chances are your neighbours are now also considering installing some. Research even shows that if you see solar panels in your neighbourhood, you are more likely to want them. So for every sustainable choice you make, you also set others in motion.
Start today? Download the beta version of the Scone App and calculate your annual CO₂ emissions. Challenge your family, friends and colleagues to save as much CO₂ as possible.
How big is the profit? The potential is huge. If you decide to live more sustainably, that’s already great. But think of the impact you can have if you convince neighbours, friends, and colleagues to also live more sustainably!