What individuals can do
Our efforts as individuals to tackle climate change are every bit as important as political action for sustainability on the national and international stage.
We can each take responsibility for doing what we can to rethink our day-to-day behaviour, choices and purchasing decisions.
Many people want to take action, but it can be hard to know what really makes the difference and what is right for you. These tools can help:
- Answer four quick questions on the Get-Greener tool to find the best areas for you to focus on
- Use the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) calculator to measure and find ways to shrink your carbon footprint
- Giki Zero is an online step-by-step guide to a lighter footprint on the planet. It will help you discover your environmental impact, find steps to reduce it and celebrate your successes.
Reduce your energy use and bills
The UK’s 30 million buildings - most of which are homes - account for more than 23 per cent of the UK’s total carbon emissions, with 79 percent coming from our heating systems which are largely powered by fossil fuels. Decarbonising domestic heating and improving the energy efficiency of homes is a major part of reaching net zero, as set out in the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy (October 2021).
Get free and impartial energy saving advice from the national Government endorsed Simple Energy Advice service on 0800 444202 (freephone helpline). The Energy Savings Trust also provides information and resources to help make your home more energy efficient, reduce your carbon emissions and lower your energy bills.
Warm and Safe Wiltshire offers all residents across Swindon free and impartial energy saving advice, especially those who may be struggling with their fuel bills or keeping their homes warm. Get in touch via their freephone helpline on 0800 038 5722.
There’s often a few very easy things you can do to cut your energy use straight away, and without spending lots of money.
Here are some further energy saving resources:
- Make sure you're on the best energy tariff to meet your needs
- Compare gas and electricity tariffs through Energy Angels’ free energy price comparison service and save money on your energy bills
- Use this postcode checker to access personalised information on energy efficiency and any grants that might be available in your area
- Monitor your energy usage in real-time by upgrading to a smart meter
- Advice for tenants in privately rented properties
- Find free or low-cost things you can do if you live in council or housing association accommodation
- Find information for landlords
- Find out which appliances in your household are contributing most to your carbon footprint
- Discover more about solar panels
- Watch this explainer video and find out more about electric heat pumps
- Reduce heat loss in your home by installing insulation or draught-proofing
Green energy tariff
Many energy suppliers offer green tariffs, which can either mean they will match your usage with renewable energy generation, or they will contribute towards environmental schemes on your behalf.
In August 2021, the Government launched a review looking at whether the current system is suitably transparent and whether the rules around what can be called a ‘green’ tariff remain fit for purpose.
Leave the car at home
Transport is the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, producing 27 per cent of the UK’s total emissions in 2019. Cars and taxis were the biggest contributors to this, making up 61 per cent of emissions from road transport.
Active travel is a great alternative and is all about getting you moving from A to B in ways that don’t use fossil fuels. Active travel not only improves your health and wellbeing, but helps reduce your carbon footprint and can save you money:
- Check out the Swindon walking and cycling maps, local cycling events and journey planner provided by Swindon Travel Choices
- Get advice from the Energy Savings Trust
- Find 20 tips to help you fit 20 minutes of walking into your day via Living Streets
Moving away from petrol and diesel cars
The Government has committed to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, with all new cars and vans being fully zero emission from 2035. The full transition to electric vehicles will be one of the most important actions to achieve the UK’s net zero target:
- The Beginners’ Guide to Going Electric helps drivers understand what’s involved in switching to an electric car
- Find out more about electric cars from Swindon Travel Choices and the Energy Savings Trust
- Use the Government-backed EV8 Switch free app to calculate how much money you could save by switching to an electric vehicle (EV) compared to your current petrol or diesel motor vehicle, as well as the CO2 savings and air quality improvements
Invest your money responsibly
Find out where your money goes. Voice your concerns about responsible investment by writing to your bank or pension provider, and ask if you can opt out of funds investing in fossil fuels. There are also a number of ‘ethical banks’ you can investigate:
- Go to the Good With Money campaign website for ethical saving suggestions
- Check the ethical credentials of a wide range of saving and investment products with Your Ethical Money website
- Visit the Make My Money Matter campaign website which brings together pension savers to demand their money is invested in a way which helps, not harms the planet, aligns with their values and protects future generations
- Find out what responsible investment means for your pension through Imperial College London
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Reducing what you waste is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment. Meanwhile many of the things we throw away haven’t always reached the end of their useful life. Sometimes items you don’t want any more can still be used by someone else.
More than 30 per cent of our clothing goes to landfill, with nearly half of us putting some clothing in the bin. All of our clothing can either be reused or recycled.
Recycling saves energy and also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to tackle climate change. Current UK recycling is estimated to save more than 18 million tonnes of CO2 a year – the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road.
- Check out 5 easy steps to reduce your waste
- Love Your Clothes has lots more ways to make the most of your clothes, keeping them lasting for longer, and passing on clothes you no longer need
- If it’s broke, fix it - Swindon Repair Café is a drop-in centre for broken appliances and products staffed by volunteers
- Find out about household recycling services in Swindon
- Not sure if an item can be recycled in Swindon? Check our A-Z guide
Think about your diet and the food you buy
What we eat, and how that food is produced, affects our health and the environment. Around 26 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the agriculture sector – if it were a country, it would be the second largest emitter in the world.
If as a population we were to reduce the amount of meat we currently eat on average, we could collectively help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve our health at the same time.
- Buying local and seasonal food supports your local economy and lowers the carbon emitted to get that food on your table
- The NHS Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet
- Find leftover food recipes and tips for reducing the amount of food your household wastes via Love Food Hate Waste
- Learn more about plant-based diets through BBC Food
More information, tools and resources
- Get top tips to reduce your carbon emissions from the Energy Savings Trust
- Here’s 16 steps to reduce your emissions through the Count Us In campaign
- 9 things you can do about climate change from Imperial College London
- 10 ways to be more sustainable in your garden via the Royal Horticultural Society
- The 2030 calculator can help you understand the environmental impact of consumer goods
- ActNow is the United Nations campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability
Get inspired and inspire others
Have you got any climate change success stories you want to share with your community to help inspire and motivate others?
We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org.