How to tackle climate change and save nature from home

How to tackle climate change and save nature from home

Lesser black-backed gulls on landfill by Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

Feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the climate and nature crises? Don’t worry! There are lots of things you can do to help from home.

Climate change is already affecting millions of people across the world, including right here in the UK. Putting a cardboard box in the recycling bin can seem like a thankless task with so much doom and gloom in the news, but every single action, no matter how small, makes a difference, and if each and every one of us made even just one change, that adds up to one huge wave of support for the environment.

Choose refills over packets

Refill shops and stations are popping up in more and more towns, cities and villages, making it easier for people to refill containers rather than buying brand new products. From pasta, rice and oats to spices, shampoo and washing up liquid, you can refill pretty much everything these days. You don’t even have to buy fancy new containers – whatever you have lying around will work and it’s a great way to give old plastic containers a new lease of life.

Even if you don’t have a refill shop or refill station nearby, something as simple as investing in a reusable water bottle will drastically cut down your plastic use.

Get recycling

Recycling is perhaps the most accessible way to help save nature and tackle climate change. As well as keeping dangerous items that could injure wildlife out of the natural environment, you’re reducing the amount of waste that gets sent to landfill and takes hundreds of years to break down. You could even go one step further than your household recycling bins and check out TerraCycle, which lists nearby locations where you can recycle everything from crisp packets to electric toothbrush heads.

Unfortunately, recycling isn’t always as simple as it’s made out to be and there are a couple of unwritten rules that will help you recycle more effectively:

  • Only recycle clean cardboard – grease and food debris can contaminate the rest of the recyclable materials and see the whole lot sent to landfill.
  • Collect your foil and turn it into a ball. Sorting machines struggle to pick up foils below a certain size, so collect yours until you have a tennis ball-sized ball.
A man riding his bike down a cycle path next to houses in golden light

Ben Hall/2020VISION

Leave the car at home

Can you walk or cycle somewhere instead of driving? If work, the shops, or your friends and family’s homes are within distance, leave the car at home and head there on two legs or two wheels instead. You’ll save petrol, save the planet and get some exercise in the great outdoors while you’re at it.

Rethink your food

The food we eat can have a huge impact on the planet – in fact, a quarter of global emissions come from food alone. Thankfully, there are ways to lessen your footprint whilst still enjoying delicious meals.

Cut down on animal products

More than half of food emissions come from animal products, so the easiest change is to cut down on the amount of meat, milk and eggs you consume. Even a simple meat-free Monday every week will help to reduce your carbon footprint – the carbon footprint of one cheeseburger is around that of nine falafel and pitta pockets!

Make your own compost

In the UK we discard almost one million tonnes of milk, bread and potatoes every year. These end up in landfill, where they take many years to completely degrade and, while they do break down, emit methane into the atmosphere. The good news is that around 37 per cent of carbon emissions from food waste happen when food is prepared and after it’s eaten, so the power is in our own hands to reduce it:

  • Freeze your leftovers and things like extra tinned tomatoes or baked beans.
  • Plan your meals each week and write a shopping list, so you only buy what you need.
  • Compost unavoidable food waste like vegetable cuttings.

Shop seasonally

Eating what’s in season is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint – it won’t have travelled as far and will have been grown more sustainably, plus, it will taste better and be more nutritious. For example: strawberries are in season from June to September, while apples come into season from September to February. You can check what’s in season using this table.

Buy less stuff

Did you know that 300,000 tonnes of used clothes are burned or sent to landfill each year? Fast fashion is the worst culprit; cheaply made and designed to be replaced as often as possible. Polyester clothing – essentially made of plastic – takes 200 years to decompose. We could invest in longer-lasting pieces made in a more sustainable way, but the most effective solution is also the simplest… just buy less.

Could you stitch up that loose hem, patch up that hole or use the item in another way (old scarves make great gift wrap)? When you really do need something new, take to the charity shops or scour second-hand clothing websites – you can often pick up a bargain!

Cut back on flying

Could you holiday at home instead of hopping on a plane? There is so much to explore and experience on this tiny island we call home, and the great news is that lots of it is accessible by train. Where it isn’t, how about completing as much of your journey as possible by train and then hiring a car to pootle around once you arrive?

If you do want to hop on a plane, consider choosing a destination closer by, and donate to a charity that is working hard to stop the climate and nature crises in their tracks.

Common frog floating in a pond with pond plants

Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Be part of a nature recovery network

A nature recovery network is an interconnected landscape of wild places across the UK, for example: legally-protected nature reserves linked up by things like flower-rich road verges, blocks of flats with green roofs, and wildlife-friendly gardens. That last one is something we can all create, no matter how large or small our space. Even balconies can play their part – as illustrated by Manchester’s very own Cloud Gardener.

Wildlife-friendly gardening doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply choose pollinator-friendly plants, put down the chemicals, choose peat-free compost and let some areas grow wild. There are more tips in our free My Wild Garden booklet.

Download your copy

Respect and protect green spaces

From nature reserves to windswept moors and little patches of woodland, treating our local green spaces with respect will make sure the wildlife that lives there will survive into the future, and that future generations can continue to enjoy these precious wild places.

Make your voice heard

Your voice can be incredibly powerful, regardless of whether you’re a top decision-maker, social media influencer or armchair activist. Use your social media accounts to raise awareness about the issues we face and the solutions we need to invest in, write to your MP, or simply have an honest conversation with your friends and family. Helping people understand why we need to take action now will give our planet and its wildlife a better chance of survival.

A marsh harrier lowering its legs and raising its wings as it comes in to land in a reedbed

Marsh harrier by Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION

Support your local Wildlife Trust

Our conservation teams, project officers and passionate volunteers all work on the ground, every day, to stop the climate and nature crises from destroying our region. We’re restoring peatlands, expanding wetlands, reintroducing locally extinct wildlife, protecting saltmarshes and much, much more. But we can’t do this without your help.

When you become a member from just £3 per month you’re directly funding our conservation work to protect the wildlife and wild places on your doorstep. With your help, we can ensure there are still bees pollinating your garden flowers, birds filling the air with song on your way to work, and glorious green spaces waiting to welcome you when you need a release.

Become a member today