Individual actions count
When it comes to helping the environment there is a long running debate about whether individual action is effective against a backdrop of an environmentally damaging economic system and highly polluting and powerful corporations and governments. Peach and Bumble has always encouraged individual action as a way of contributing to system change for two reasons. Firstly, small, individual actions taken by millions add up to something huge and can make a big environmental impact. Secondly, modelling environmentally friendly behaviour in our communities creates a ripple effect that contributes to systemic change.
Take the jump!
Some recent research has found that a quarter of emissions reductions needed to keep us under 1.5 degrees as specified in the Paris Agreement can be made through combined emissions reductions of six lifestyle changes individuals can make. The research, which was carried out by academics at Leeds University along with the C40 group of world cities and global engineering firm Arup, shows that, in wealthy nations, reducing consumption that is heavily contributing to the climate crisis is an effective measure to help the environment, and individual actions do count!
The research has been presented as a campaign named ‘Take the Jump‘ which encourages people to pledge to commit to the following six lifestyle changes for one, three, or six months to the best of their ability:
End clutter – Keep products for at least 7 years
Production, transport and the end of life processing of electronic equipment is often more emission heavy than using the product. Rather than replacing your electronic items every couple of years, try to keep them for as long as possible and aim to keep them for 5-7 years.
Try to keep purchases of new electronics and other products you buy to a minimum and instead of buying new, opt to repair old items, buy second hand, or rent instead. If you do need to buy new items, try to pick ones with good durability or ability to be repaired – this helps to keep rare earth mineral extraction and production emissions to a minimum.
Travel fresh – If you can, no personal vehicles
Road vehicles are responsible for around 17% of emissions globally, and also cause congestion, noise and air pollution which is a major risk to human and animal health. If you can, avoid using your personal vehicle, or buying one. Try a car share scheme, see what public transport is available to make your journeys or cycle or walk when possible. For people who are disabled or live in remote places, it may not be possible to avoid using a personal vehicle, so if you do need to keep your car, keep it for as long as possible to reduce emissions from production.
The production of a new car every three years produces 5-6 times the emissions of 1 well cared for car kept for 20 years. Fuel efficiency has proven to merely lower the cost of journeys, encouraging more driving, and also has encouraged more large and dangerous vehicles to be designed and bought. Though electric vehicles will help to reduce the environmental impact of road travel, it’s not sustainable to produce as many vehicles as we currently use in proportion to our population. The manufacture of EVs produces emissions, and the tyre and brakes produce air pollution. For this reason, it’s important that we reduce the number of vehicles on the roads.
Eat green – a plant based diet, eating a healthy amount and with no waste
The food system is responsible for 25% of emissions. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of ocean dead zones, deforestation, land use change, biodiversity loss, and insect death due to pesticides required for the vast amounts of plants required to feed animals. So while we can’t reduce harm from the food system entirely, eating a plant based diet will help to drastically cut emissions and other environmental harms from the food system.
A third of all food produced is wasted, and so making effort to use all the food you buy is really important too. Remaining within recommended 2500 calories per day per person will also help ration the amount of food used, so try to avoid overeating. Thankfully, this is quite difficult to do on a plant based diet if you select whole foods.
Dress retro – 3 new items of clothing per year
To reduce emissions, pollution, waste, and worker exploitation from clothing production, buy no more than 3 pieces of new clothing every year, and try not to buy new clothes if you don’t need them. For any other clothing purchases, look for second hand pieces. You might find that you have clothes in your wardrobe that can be repaired, altered or swapped with friends. Try to pick investment pieces and think about durability when you buy new items, and factor in cost per wear. This means that expensive items that can be worn over and over end up cheaper than fast fashion that you will wear only a few times. Rented items are also a great idea if you have special occasion that you need a fancy outfit for that you wouldn’t really get chance to wear again, and it works out much cheaper to rent than to buy new.
Holiday local with only 1 flight every 3 years
A sustainable amount to fly is to take only 1 short haul flight every 3 years. This means you still get to take 15-20 holidays abroad over your lifetime. It also means you get to explore all the lovely holiday destinations closer to home. Or alternatively, you could take a journey abroad by train, ferry or bus.
In the UK, a small percentage of people are taking most of the flights – 15% of the population takes 70% of all flights – and this means that carbon budgets are being used disproportionally by a few. It’s not fair that frequent flyers, who are more likely to be very wealthy, are hogging the carbon budget, while some people are not able to afford to fly at all and are contributing far less to aviation emissions. High speed rail will make travelling in a more sustainable way more appealing in the future, and flights fuelled with electric or biomass energy will help aviation reduce it’s strain on the environment, however, ultimately, a reduction in flights is needed.
Change the system – 1 life shift to nudge the system
Governments should be leading changes to retire fossil fuels and replace them with solar, wind and wave energy. They should invest in retrofitting our homes for energy efficiency and regulating environmentally harmful business activity. They should invest in green tech, and electrification of transport and energy. However, the government is failing to take appropriate action and this isn’t happening.
That’s why it’s important for us to use our power individually to nudge businesses and governments to change our infrastructure. We can do this by choosing more environmentally friendly energy, pensions, and banks, and making our homes more energy efficient by adding extra insulation and double glazing.
The Take the Jump campaign uses five principles to help support its six lifestyle shifts:
- Trying is enough, so just start – it isn’t about success versus failure, instead, just have a go and stick with it. It’s not always easy to stick to your commitment when being constantly tempted to consume by advertising and social pressure, but you don’t have to be perfect, just to try your best and don’t give up.
- No more us and them – Anyone can take the jump, and have a go to the best of their ability without being shamed.
- Jump for joy – find joy in meaningful connections with others and nature rather than looking for it in stuff. You don’t have to give up on buying some stuff, but recognise that overconsumption above and beyond our needs is ruining our environment.
- Same access, different responsibilities – no matter your background, race, gender, sexuality or experience you can have a go, though different people will be able to commit to different extents depending on practicability.
- Taking the jump will change things – Consuming more and more stuff is not compatible with a liveable future. Culture, mindset and behaviour all require change from their trajectory of growth and excess and this collective action will make a huge difference, just as other grass roots justice movements have in the past.
Products that help end clutter
Obviously, system change is hugely important, but it’s good to know that individual actions do really count, and we really do each have the power to make a difference and be the change we wish to see!
Peach and Bumble reusable sanitary pads are a great option to contribute to end clutter. In this case, it helps to end single use plastic clutter. Our period pads can last over 5 years with proper care, as they can be washed and used over and over again. Though there’s no getting away from having to change your toothbrush every 3 months, a Peach and Bumble toothbrush with a biodegradable bamboo handle is a much better option for the environment than a plastic toothbrush. In fact, research shows that a manual bamboo toothbrush uses 97% less plastic than a plastic alternative, and has 6-11 times lower impact on climate change, with 83% less land use and resulting reduction in biodiversity.