A week ago, the Guardian reported that the cost of the recent bushfires in Australia is likely to exceed the $4.4bn that was spent following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. With the bushfires still raging across Australia, who knows what the ultimate cost will be this time?
Raging bushfires still not contained
With severe fire damage to many homes and towns, significant loss of livestock and native animals, and the loss of more than 8.4m hectares of land, this fire season may be the worst in living memory. So far, 25 people have lost their lives in these bushfires, making the tragedy all the worse for everyone concerned.
Whilst our leaders are still unwilling to accept the scientific evidence showing climate change is a contributing factor to the severity of these bushfires, there are still actions Aussies can take to help reduce their carbon footprint and do our bit for the environment.
Best ways for individuals to tackle climate change
- Reduce emissions: With the transport sector accounting for as much as 16% of our greenhouse emissions, we should all learn to rely less on our personal vehicles. Walking, carpooling and riding a bicycle are all ways we can reduce our carbon footprint, even using the bus, train or tram reduces the release of carbon into the air. Did you know that for every kilometre you use public transport and not your own car you reduce your emissions by up to 500g? So a 10km train ride saves 5kg of greenhouse gases from polluting our planet!
- Save energy: Saving energy will not only cut down on your bills, but also help the planet. So consider turning off appliances when they are not in use (don’t leave them on standby), and check your home’s thermostat (don’t set the A/C so low or the heating as high as usual).
- Install solar panels: Another way to save energy, cut your bills and help the planet is to install solar panels on your roof. As technology continues to improve, prices drop accordingly, so it becomes increasingly cheaper to install solar panels and reduce your dependence on coal-fired energy (don’t forget there are state grants for solar installations as well).
- Plastic: Avoid plastic packaging where possible in stores and use canvas or cotton bags for your groceries. You can also use these bags when you pick up a takeaway, go clothes shopping, and so on.
- Eat local foods: Eating food grown locally and in season means that you reduce the carbon footprint of these food products. Transporting food across Australia and from other countries creates a massive carbon footprint that can be significantly reduced if we all eat what’s local and in season.
- Eat less red meat: Since 70% of agricultural emissions comes from livestock farming, reducing meat in your diet is a sensible way to eat healthy and cut greenhouse gases.
- Consume less: Don’t buy things you don’t need and when you do buy items, make sure they are good quality so that they last a long time.
- Reuse or recycle: Try to buy second hand clothes, appliances or furniture, as well as used cars, rather than new. Also sell or donate items you no longer need, instead of trashing them.
- Buy sustainable products: If you need wood furniture or timber for around the house look for wood that’s sourced from sustainable practices, and don’t forget to plant lots of trees!
We all need to do our part and come together. Don’t feel helpless, take action no matter how small it feels!