3 Simple Changes We Can All Make to Live More Sustainably

There are only 12 years left to limit the destruction that global warming will have on our planet, as announced by scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year. Ireland has been experiencing more extreme weather conditions over the past couple of years with high-intensity storms, springtime snowfall and hot, dry summers. 

 

There are actions we as individuals can take to reduce our carbon footprint. It is important to be as conscientious as we can in our everyday tasks to make sure we’re playing our part to sustain the planet. 

 

Transportation 

 

The Department of Transport has found that approximately 400 thousand people drive distances of 4 kilometres or less to get to their work or school. They say that if just this group of people chose to walk or cycle to work, there would be no congestion in urban areas. 

 

A surge in the number of regular cyclists would see carbon dioxide emissions reduced by 11 per cent in 2050, according to the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. 

 

The National Transport Authority has recently announced that a new five-kilometre cycle route is to be built along the quays in Dublin. This should be a safer and more accessible cycle route through the city for people who may have been put off cycling at such close quarters to other traffic. 

 

Energy usage 

 

Energy consumption in Ireland is continuing to increase each year with oil being the main form of fuel used, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). However, Ireland is becoming more self-dependent in its energy production as an increased amount of pure natural gas is being collected from the Corrib gas field. 

 

However, SEAI predicts that oil will continue to be Ireland’s main fuel for years to come. If we only have 12 years to minimise the impact of global warming, we need to take action to reduce our oil consumption. 

 

SEAI recommends using smart products such as heating timers. This will prevent the unnecessary usage of oil by, for instance, switching off radiators when a certain temperature has been reached.  

 

Diet 

 

The food that we eat has a big impact on climate change. Studies such as the one carried out on food’s environmental impact by Oxford University show that food production accounts for approximately one-quarter of all greenhouse gases.  

 

The majority of this comes from animal products with beef and lamb being the biggest offenders. The study showed that beans and nuts which contain comparable amounts of protein to beef contribute significantly less to global warming. 

 

If all of humanity were to adopt a vegetarian or, even more drastic, a vegan diet, we would see a major decrease in emissions. However, it might be more reasonable to reduce meat from the diet rather than remove it - perhaps try Meatless Mondays. 

 

It’s a very scary thought that we may have doomed the future of our planet. It is up to each of us as individuals to push for sustainable living for our own lives and the lives that follow.