Lily O’Neill from Sustainable Upper Ovens asked researchers from the Australian National University’s Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions what they personally do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is their top seven:
- Vote, call, write letters: vote for climate action and make sure your local representatives (Council, state MP, federal MP, PM) know that you really care about this. If you are stuck for ideas on what to do, get in touch with Sustainable Upper Ovens (particularly teenagers, this will effect you the most).
- Household energy use
Type: electricity is currently the largest source of household emissions. Install solar if you can – save money while helping to push out fossil fuel generation. Go for Greenpower if you can’t. Switch away from gas for heating and cooking – electricity is rapidly becoming greener. Use a heat pump for hot water.
Changing habits: try to use as little power as you can (put on a jumper, use a fan instead of the airconditioner), and be aware that it matters when you use things: putting the dishwasher on overnight likely means you are burning coal – turning it on during the day means you are using sun from your solar panels or green electricty. Wash clothes in cold water.
- Compost food waste: (and call up Council to ask why we don’t have municipal green waste). Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and composting can prevent waste from releasing methane in land fill. Composting food scraps is as easy as finding a corner and starting a pile. You can use an old tarp or even a heavy blanket to cover it. Keep moist, turn it over occasionally and watch it turn into quality soil that you can you to grow things to draw down even more carbon dioxide! If you are a pet owner, you can even compost pet waste, although you may need to use special enzymes to help it beak down.
- Buy less things: instead try and buy second hand, fix what you have, swap, repurpose and upcycle. This will not only save money but can be fun too. Sustainable Upper Ovens will be running sewing workshops in the coming months, Covid restrictions permitting.
- Ditch the car: ride, walk, share a ride as much as you can. If you are buying a new car, go with smaller, fuel efficient car, or better yet, an electric car (but don’t fuel it up overnight unless you have your own battery – again, this electricity will be coming from coal).
- Buy local, make your own: the amount of greenhouse gas spent shipping your butter from Ireland to Australia in a refrigerated ship is obscene. We have cows here. Just stop.
- Carbon offsetting schemes can be a bit suss: don’t think you can just buy your way out of the climate crisis.