Friday, September 20th student-led Climate Action Strikes were held across the world. I attended the strike in Albury (my second one) and again was incredibly impressed with the young people who were leading the protest. They were articulate and informed and if they are the future leaders of the world, bring on the future.
Social Media this week has been focussing on climate change – in my feed at least. The United Nations Climate Action Summit was held in New York this week and was addressed by Greta Thunberg the incredible young climate activist. Some posts that have been repeatedly shared on Social Media this week have focussed on the fact that young people are being educated in air-conditioned classrooms, using computers for much of their learning, as well as their use of mobile phones. Somehow the fact that most classrooms have air conditioning has been attributed to the students themselves. I am yet to see a student who has managed to get a school airconditioned but if that student does exist then they must be an amazing kid! These arguments seem to miss the point that the use of technology is not in question it is the source of the power charging them that needs to be changed.
Not everyone believes that climate change is real or that we need to make changes to address it. Scott Morrison doesn’t seem to believe that Australia needs to do any more than is already being done. At a national and global level, the majority of us have absolutely no influence so what can we do?
There are any number of changes we can make in our own daily behaviour that will have an impact. Any change no matter how small must be good. If each and every one of us were able to make just a small change imagine the impact overall. I know I can’t change the government’s policies, make Trump believe climate change is real or even alter the opinion of friends whose thoughts don’t align with mine but, there are many things I can do. So, what are these things?
Throw away fashion contributes greatly to both climate change in the production phase and to the masses of waste we produce. Buying less clothes or shopping at Op shops is something that we can do. I tend to buy fewer but better-quality clothes that will last longer. I have no issue with being seen in the same few outfits day in and day out. Being clean and decently covered is what matters to me. Once my clothes are no longer appropriate for work or social occasions, they become house clothes with the next step down being garden clothes. When they are too holey for even garden wear they become dusters and rags. It generally takes about six years for a piece of clothing to go from new to rag bag in my case. Generations before us were used to living in this way, mending and darning their clothing and passing clothes down to younger siblings and cousins. The advent of cheap clothing has dramatically changed the way we live. Beautiful patchwork quilts were made from scraps of fabric that still had wear in them, nobody purchased fabric specifically to cut up into small pieces and then sew together again. My child has two pairs of shoes and a pair of thongs at any given time, one pair of runners and one pair of good shoes (usually school shoes). Again, I spend money on good quality shoes that will be grown out of rather than worn out. If the shoes have wear left in them which is not often the case with small boys, they are donated to the op-shop. If they are worn-out, they become garden planters for succulents or shoes for scarecrows. I will gladly accept used clothing from friends and if it can’t be used in our household I will happily pass it along to someone else who can use it.
Ensuring your electrical appliances are energy efficient will save you money as well as reducing your power needs. Turning off appliances when they are not in use and turning off lights and heating in rooms that are not occupied will have the same effect.
Australia should be a sea of solar panels with panels on every roof given our climate and the sunlight we could be harnessing. Solar panels have reduced dramatically in price over the last ten years. Subsidies exist in most states to assist with the initial cost of purchasing panels and ultimately the household power costs will reduce significantly. We have had solar hot water for approximately 15 years and solar panels for 10. If we were to move to a new house my first priority would be installing solar power.
Heating and cooling are things that most of us would not consider going without. There are many ways we can reduce the need for heating in particular. Wearing an additional layer of clothes, having rugs to snuggle under on the couch, using draft excluders for doors and windows are all ways to reduce the heat demands in a house. Thermally efficient house design and double-glazed windows are things to consider if you happen to be building a new house. In older houses much can still be done, ensuring you have good insulation, installing blinds and curtains and checking that your heating system is working correctly and efficiently will all help. Older houses can be retrofitted to ensure your systems are working to capacity, it takes time and commitment, but it is achievable. Going without air conditioning in the types of summers we experience is not something that I would consider but I will make sure that I minimise our needs by ensuring curtains are closed during the day to minimise heat build-up, windows are opened in the cooler times of the day for the same reason.
When replacing household appliances pay attention to the energy ratings that will be displayed on them. Buy the most energy-efficient appliance you can afford, and you reduce your power costs and save money in the long run.
Every one of us is responsible for handing our children and future generations a world that is not about to implode. I cannot recall where I heard it, but one statement I heard that really resonated with me was that we are not going to destroy the earth, instead we are destroying ourselves. The earth will heal once Humans are no longer polluting and destroying it. I would like to attribute that to someone, but do not recall who said it so apologies if it was you. We all need to step up and stop destroying the only planet we have.