New year, new you? With climate change now a hotter topic than ever and the heat on to tackle it before the new decade comes to a close, why not take a new approach this year and make your new year’s resolutions all about helping the Ocean – and, in turn, the planet?
The Ocean drives the climate, makes the Earth habitable and sustains all life – yet despite being vitally important in so many ways, its presence in the mainstream media and on the political stage is lacking. At the Ocean Conservation Trust, we want to change this and get as many people thinking about the Ocean, in positive ways, as we can – and what better time to start than the beginning of a new year?
Our Ocean has a far greater impact on our daily lives than many of us realise, and in turn, we have the power to damage or heal it. The small things we do in our daily lives – from using the tumble dryer instead of hanging washing out, to driving when we could walk – all have an effect.
The diversity and productivity of the world’s Ocean is a vital interest of humankind and our security, our economy and our very survival all depend upon it. So, if you’re wondering what you can do to help it as we head into 2020, then read on – because we’ve rounded up the top five new year’s resolutions you can commit to that will benefit our Ocean this year.
1. Go plant-based
Every year, thousands of people from across the UK opt to participate in Veganuary – giving up meat, dairy and other animal products for a whole month in a bid to lessen their environmental impact, reduce animal cruelty and boost their health. If you’ve yet to take the plunge, then why not join in this year? It can be a great way to transition to a predominantly plat-based lifestyle, and with many others joining you on the journey, it’s easy to find groups and conversations to join in with on social media to help you through it.
If you’re wondering how exactly going plant-based will help the Ocean, you might be surprised to learn that the livestock industry emits as much carbon as the world’s entire transport sector combined, contributing to atmospheric warming and acidification. Agribusiness is also responsible for fires, deforestation and the invasion of protected areas
But consumers can send them a signal that there’ll be little appetite for planet-destroying foods in 2020 and beyond.
Not ready to commit to a whole month of eating a vegan diet? Why not start with Meat-Free Mondays instead – and gradually reduce the amount of animal products from there? Even small changes can have a big impact, and the world doesn’t need just a few people doing it perfectly – it needs millions of them, doing it imperfectly.
2. Ditch single-use plastic
Plastic pollution may not contribute to climate change, but it still has a detrimental impact on our Ocean and the life that lives in it. Thanks to the ‘Blue Planet Effect’, millions of people, worldwide, are taking action to reduce their plastic consumption – but there is still a lot of work to be done. The UK’s top ten supermarkets continue to put more plastics on their shelves than ever before, so as consumers it is up to us to make the best choices we can.
Whether you’ve already started taking steps to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics or are new to the game entirely, there ae plenty of small ways you can make a difference. The most obvious things are eschewing plastic carrier bags in favour of reusables and avoiding the purchasing of disposable plastic water bottles and coffee cups. Bringing your own can take a bit of getting used to, but it can make a big difference in the long-run.
If you’ve already done that, look for new ways to cut back. Opt for loose fruit and vegetables at the supermarket rather than pre-packaged, and try swapping shower gels and liquid soaps for bar soaps. Make use of zero waste stores, which can now be found in most cities across the UK and allow you to take your own containers to fill with foods including cereals, grains and nuts.
There is always something more you can do, and small changes to everyday habits can also have a big impact, showing supermarkets that plastic is old news.
3. Swap fast fashion for forever fashion
The global fashion industry emits almost as much carbon as the as the entire continent of Europe, while textile production accounts for global emissions equivalent to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 every year. That’s a bigger carbon footprint than all international flights and shipping combined.
We all know how tempting it can be to purchase a new outfit for that night out you’ll only ever wear once or snap up yet another pair of shoes in the January sales, but resisting can make a difference. Instead of consuming fast fashion at an alarming rate, opt instead to invest in a few key pieces each year that are well-made, versatile and built to last. Building a capsule wardrobe and learning to mend items you already own, as well as scouring charity shops for bargain finds can all help to reduce your carbon footprint.
4. Rethink your journeys
Transport in the UK emits more carbon than any other sector, and whilst it might take a bit of getting used to, driving only when you really need to can make a huge difference. With fewer cars on the road and less traffic, the level of air pollution emitted from running engines can be dramatically reduced.
Bus and train networks are now more efficient than ever, making it easier to get from A to B using shared transport. And, if you live close enough to your destination then walking is an even better option. Again, it’s not about being perfect, and if you really can’t face getting up an hour earlier to walk to work in the morning, then there are other things you can do. Walk to the corner shop for that loaf of bread rather than drive or take a scenic stroll into town at the weekend – starting with small and easy changes can pave the way for greater change, and also have a positive influence on those around you.
Whilst reducing climate change and plastic pollution might seem like insurmountable tasks, the great news is that there are still plenty of things we can do to help. If we all make one small change to benefit the Ocean in 2020, things could look very different in just a few years from now – and the more changes we make, the greater the overall impact.
So, this January, why not #ThinkOcean and make a New Year’s resolution for the Ocean? Your future self will thank you for it.