Read a book on the climate emergency (1 point)
It’s good to learn about the science & technologies, as well as the social, political and economic aspects of the climate crisis. See our website for some suggestions: www.stratfordclimate.org/resources (all links open in new tab). Ask some of your friends to join you for a reading group, and give yourself another point.
Work out your carbon footprint (3 points)
The idea of a carbon footprint is sometimes criticised — it was first popularised by fossil fuel companies, to redirect blame to individuals and away from themselves. It’s certainly important to take a broader, more political view too. But individual action supports that, and carbon footprinting still gives a useful overview of some of the things you can change.
Use Ecosia for your internet searches (1 point)
Ecosia is a search engine that uses ad revenue to plant trees: www.ecosia.org/. You can watch a video about it [<iframe width=]”>at YouTube, here. GreenGeeks is a web-hosting company that offsets 3 times the CO2 it emits, and offers a site-migration service.
Unsubscribe from email lists you ignore (1 point)
Internet servers are highly energy intensive. An individual email or websearch only uses a small amount of energy, but they add up, so we should try not to generate too many of them.
Turn off lights in rooms that aren't in use (1 point)
It’s an obvious thing to do isn’t it?
Change your lightbulbs to LED (1 point)
LED bulbs are so much more energy-efficient than halogen and traditional incandescent lightbulbs, that it will save money to switch now rather than wait for the old ones to die. Be sure to recycle the old bulbs, e.g. at a big supermarket.
Put on warmer clothes before turning up the heating (1 point)
Heating uses energy, and therefore fossil fuels.
Check your thermostat when you go out (1 point)
A small act of discipline that will save you money, as well as reducing CO2 emissions.
Use modest heating and cooling (2 points)
Wash most of your clothes at 30 degrees or less (1 point)
Sometimes you do need a hotter wash, but for most purposes 30 degrees is plenty.
Switch to a low-flow shower head (2 points)
Purifying & pumping water into homes uses energy, and temperature rises can drive water shortages (though most water is used industrially). Severn Trent offer several free water-saving devices, like low flow shower heads: www.stwater.co.uk/wonderful-on-tap/save-water/free-ways-to-save See what else you could use while you’re there. You could also try to cut down on water used in cooking and washing, and/or reuse for plants.
Improve your home insulation (3 points)
Improving insulation will lower your heating needs (and costs). Act On Energy is a local charity that may be able to source free/cheap insulation and boiler replacements for you, especially (though not only) if you are living in fuel poverty: actonenergy.org.uk/
Draught-proof your home (2 points)
There are lots of helpful guides to draught-proofing your home online, which a quick Ecosia search will discover. Isn’t it wonderful how people take the time to share useful information for free.
Use a green energy provider that offers more than just green electricity (1 point)
Green energy deals are only worthwhile if the company provides green gas or invests in green energy production themselves. Because only 0.5% of people are signed up to tariffs, whilst 25% of energy comes from renewables, signing up to an ordinary green energy tariff doesn’t increase effective demand for renewable energy. There’s some good advice here: www.ethicalconsumer.org/energy/do-green-energy-tariffs-make-difference
Get a quote for solar panels (1 point)
Solar panels for a family house could cost around £5,000. They don’t require a south-facing roof – an east/west split can work too. They’re not as good an economic proposition now the feed-in tariff has ended, and they might not pay for themselves much before 20 years. But if you have money to spare, they’re a better luxury buy than an unnecessary kitchen refurb, or an expensive holiday. Be sure to get multiple quotes from trusted dealers.
Install solar panels (or other green tech) (3+ points)
See last entry. Other green technologies include solar panels, batteries, heat pumps, rainwater processing, and green walls/roofs. Give yourself a point for each technology you’ve installed/are getting installed. If you can’t afford it, that’s fine of course – the government should be helping you out really.
Plant bee-friendly flowers in your garden (1 point)
Unfortunately climate change isn’t the only environmental catastrophe we’re facing – though it is the most dangerous and difficult to reverse. As well as contributing to global warming, industrial farming is causing an ecological disaster — largely due to pesticides. Many insect species are in decline, including bees and other pollinators that our food supply relies on. Try planting flowers that bees like, or just let your grass grow longer to encourage insect life.
Let part of your lawn grow longer (2 points)
Letting part of your lawn grow longer will encourage wildflowers to seed and insects to emerge. It can be quite fun to try to identify them all, and you can download apps on your phone to help.
Only use peat-free compost (1 point)
Peatlands form slowly, and store massive amounts of carbon, so it’s important to protect them by only using peat-free compost. This is sold at most garden centres, at roughly similar prices, and works fine.
Plant a tree (1 point)
Trees take CO2 out of the atmosphere, but not all land is suitable for tree-planting and, ecologically valuable marshlands and wild meadows also need protecting. If you can, try to convince anyone who owns suitable land to plant trees. Some government support is available.
Persuade a landowner to plant trees or grow a grass patch longer (2 points)
If you are willing to approach a landowner who you know, or even if you don’t, please do. If you’d like to discuss it with us first, please get in touch.
Join a nature activity group (1 point)
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Heart of England Forest both run volunteer activities for members in sites around Stratford. They do good work, and could use your support.
Carry a reusable bag/cup/bottle/cutlery (1 point)
It’s not just about single-use plastics, bad as they are. Paper or wood cups and cutlery might be compostable, but making them still uses energy (more their plastic equivalents, in fact) and means cutting down trees. This goes for paper bags too.
Wait a week before buying non-essentials (1 point)
All production requires energy, water, and natural resources, and eventurally produces waste. So the simplest rule is not to buy anything you won’t get significant use out of. Retail therapy is a habit we should learn to do without. Watch a film or read a book about minimalism to learn more: it’s about identifying the stuff you actually get value out of and getting rid of the clutter.
If you often buy on impulse, the chances are you’re often buying more for the “hit” of having something new, rather than adding real value to your life. If that’s you, why not try self-consciously adopting this rule for a bit?
For one month buy only daily necessities (2 points)
Another challenge designed to break consumerist habits. Can you do it?
Try to repair before replacing anything (2 points)
There isn’t a full repair café in Stratford yet, but there are in nearby towns, e.g. in Alcester. See www.repaircafe.org/en/visit Some shops offer repairs on products like shoes, computers, phones, and you can repair your own clothes in creative ways.
Unfortunately, some tech companies, like Apple, make it difficult to repair their products. Try to buy products that are easier to repair.
Research efficiency of all major purchases (2 points)
Some TVs or fridges use less energy than others. Appliances have energy rating labels which tell you how efficient they are. e.g. an appliance with an A+ rating is better than an appliance with a B rating. For some more guidance, see here: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/home-appliances/
Only buy clothes you'll wear at least 30 times (1 points)
One of the most wasteful industries is the fashion industry. Less energy-intensive materials include hemp, linen and tencel, but buying new clothes less is the best approach. If your wardrobe needs reinvigorating, why not try swapping clothes with friends or at a clothes exchange instead? Alternatively, try buying from second-hand shops.
Buy mostly second-hand clothes (2 points)
You can wash second-hand clothes, unlike second-hand books, so you shouldn’t think of them as ‘dirty’. Of course, it can be difficult to find suitable clothes in your size, especially for men.
Don't buy more toys than your children need (1 point)
In our experience, children don’t need endless new toys, and respond well to a simple explanation why our planet can’t sustain this. Buying for the sake of novelty just teaches kids to view the material world (i.e. nature) as disposable.
Recycle using the bins provided (1 point)
Recycling uses energy too, and usually involves downcycling to an inferior product. So you should reduce, reuse, recycle, in that order. Make sure you’re using existing recycling systems properly. For details, see the District Council’s advice www.stratford.gov.uk/waste-recycling/ You can contact them if you’re not sure about something.
Recycle other difficult products locally (2 points)
Plastic bags, films, batteries, print cartridges and water filters can be recycled in some local supermarkets. Crisp packets and bottle tops are sometimes collected for recycling at other points. See www.terracycle.com/ for more information.
Make an "eat me first" box/space in your fridge (1 point)
In the UK we waste 4.5m tonnes of food every year. That’s around £700 worth for an average family with children. The less of the end product we waste, the less land, energy and water will be needed to feed us. An “eat me first” box/shelf is one trick you could try to help you reduce your wastage.
Give up beef, and other red meat (2 points)
Meat and dairy production are extremely inefficient in use of land (which could be reforested instead), energy and water, with red meat the worst. Cows produce methane, a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Moving towards a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for the planet as an individual. Visit veganuary.com, for advice and to give veganism a try for a short period. And if you’re still looking for that meaty taste, even the cheap alternative vegan burgers and sausages are increasingly convincing.
Try vegetarianism or veganism for 2 weeks (1 point)
Give it a go! Even if you can’t sustain it, you may find yourself able to eat less meat/dairy afterwards, and a lot of people are transitioning gradually rather than giving it up in one go.
Become a vegetarian (2 points)
Once you’ve cut down your meat consumption, why not take the next step and cut it out altogether? It’s a bit of a pain to change your cooking habits, but the meat substitutes are pretty good, and surely a small sacrifice is worth it for the sake of the planet?
Our oceans are also massively overfished, so make sure you give up fish too.
Substitute some vegan for dairy products (1 point)
Switching alternative milks for dairy milks is a good place to start. There’s lots of alternatives, with almond milk, oat milk and soya milk the most popular cheap options. Some of them are better than others in terms of their planetary impact, but they’re all better than dairy milk, so why not experiment to find the one you like best?
Vegan substitutes for cream cheese spreads are also good. Substitutes for hard cheese aren’t as convincing yet, but you should still try cutting down the cheese you eat. It still comes from cows, so the same issues with methane, and land/energy/water efficiency apply.
Become a vegan (3 points)
Why not go all the way? Veganism is the best diet for the planet, and if you’re a full vegan, you’ll be less inclined to make exceptions in the company of others, so your choices will be more likely to be noticed by others, and to influence them.
Buy seasonal fruit & veg from local growers (1 point)
Producing vegetables, like cherry tomatoes, out of season is highly energy-intensive. Transport only accounts for a small portion of the carbon footprint of food, but buying locally is still a good idea where you can – especially if you’re buying from a local, “veganic” grower.
Eat mostly seasonal fruit & vegetables (3 points)
Change one regular errand to walking/biking (1 point)
Road vehicle traffic is the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Warwickshire, and our towns are slowly being strangled by congestion. As improving the roads only induces more people to drive, more often, for longer, the only way to improve this is by getting out of our cars.
Commute to work by public transport, car-sharing, foot or bike (2 points)
Provision for alternative transport isn’t adequate, but if you can use it you should.
You could try setting up a car-share scheme at your work, or check out the Warwickshire-wide Liftshare scheme: https://liftshare.com/uk/community/carsharewarwickshire (with link to the current Covid advice)
Choose leisure activities nearer to home (1 point)
The biggest reason for car journeys among UK drivers is for leisure. Try to find other activities nearer to home, perhaps in the countryside (or use the bus/train instead).
Reduce driving by 20%-100% per year/month (1-5 points)
Ok, maybe it’s hard to be precise, but try to take the steps necessary to reduce your driving by a significant amount.
Turn off your engine while waiting in the car (1 point)
As well as burning fossil fuels, car exhausts are highly toxic and can be particularly harmful for children’s mental and physical development. We really shouldn’t be poisoning our kids as they walk past our cars outside the school gates.
If you have two cars, sell one and share (2 points)
Make your next car electric (3 points)
Electric vehicles use less CO2, even accounting for their manufacture. But reducing car numbers will still be necessary to reduce emissions in time, and mining for minerals used in their batteries is also environmentally destructive. As UK electricity isn’t fully decarbonised yet, it’s still important not to drive unnecessarily.
Give up domestic flights (2 points)
The UK population flies, on average (per capita), more than any other nation, which is pretty embarrassing really. It’s still only a small portion of the population that does most of this flying. If this is you, it’s time to cut down, and refusing domestic flights is a good first step.
Don't fly for your next holiday (2 points)
Your next holiday after overseas travel becomes possible, that is! Take the train instead – break up the journey with an overnight stay if you need to. Driving is better than flying. Or try a “staycation” in your local area.
Quit flying (3 points)
Some people have family abroad, and this won’t be possible for everyone. But if you are willing to take that step, great!
Get your workplace to reduce business travel by videoconferencing (2 points)
We’ve had a fair bit of practice with this over lockdown, and whilst videocalls might not completely replicate face to face conversations, they can save a lot of travel, and are in some respects better (they certainly save travel time/costs). If you think your workplace could be doing better, why not raise it?
Talk about climate breakdown more (2 points)
We can be reluctant to talk about the climate emergency, and it can even be seen as a social faux pas to do so. This escapism makes climate action more difficult. Surveys show most other people are worried too, but talking more is necessary to make this concern a stronger, more effective feature of our culture. If you’re unsure how to talk about the climate, the Talking Climate Handbook is really useful. Download it at www.stratfordclimate.org/resources
Hold an eco-coffee morning (3 points)
Climate anxiety is increasing, and a regular climate coffee morning with friends or neighbours can help to confront this anxiety and turn it into something more positive. Relationships with others can help us make transformations in our own lives, as in other kinds of support group. Alternatively, you might want to go further and set up a climate action group in your village or local area.
You might find the Talking Climate guidelines useful here too. Download from www.stratfordclimate.org/resources
Develop a climate plan for your workplace (3 points)
Not everyone will be in a position to do this, but if you are it’d be a great thing to do. If you’d like some suggestions for how to go about this, please get in touch.
Write to your MP, local councillors & mayor (2 points)
Your MP is your representative in Westminster. You may find it frustrating to talk with them if they are just repeating a party line, but even if that is so, they do ultimately have to win our votes and the more people communicating environmental concerns the better.
There are different levels of councils, with different functions. Stratford is covered by a Town Council, a District Council covering Stratford and the surrounding smaller towns/villages, and by Warwickshire County Council. You have an elected councillor representing you on each. Writing to them definitely has an impact, even if they don’t agree with you. For a rough idea of what each council does, see www.gov.uk/understand-how-your-council-works
Local mayor is a largely ceremonial position, elected by the Town Council.
Support politicians who promise the strongest action on the climate emergency (2 points)
We’ll let you decide who that is. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace publish evaluations of party manifestos before general elections.
Volunteer for/donate to a green charity (1 point)
Join a climate action group (like Stratford Climate Action) (2 points)
To become a member/supporter visit here: www.stratfordclimate.org/members/ We meet roughly once every 2 weeks, and discuss and campaign on all manner of local issues. There is also a local Friends of the Earth group and an Extinction Rebellion group. Links on our website.
Write to a company whose products you use and ask them to become more sustainable (1 point)
A lot of companies have big plans in place, but how good are they, and are they delivering? It’s a good thing to write to them, and keep an eye on them over time to see if they’re making progress.
Switch to a bank that doesn't invest in fossil fuels (2 points)
The big banks invest billions in fossil fuel industry, and switching your bank is an effective way of delegitimising and defunding fossil fuels. Direct debit migration services make this quite easy now. Be sure to write to your bank to tell them why you are changing.
At time of writing, Nationwide and Cumberland Building Societies, Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank, the Co-operative Bank and Metro Bank aren’t extensively invested in fossil fuel companies, and Triodos also invests in renewable energy.
Switch any investments you have to carbon-free funds (2 points)
With the world going to need to transition away from fossil fuels, sooner or later these are going to become worthless “stranded assets” which cannot be exploited. Fossil fuels are beginning to underperform against non-fossil fuel assets. And what better investment for the future than a liveable planet?