8 Best Things You Can Do For The Environment

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Not everyone has the time or energy to live sustainably in every aspect of their lives. It’s a big ask, so no one should feel bad for just doing what they can.

If you’re one of those people who can’t do it all but still wants to make a difference, here are some of the most impactful ways to get involved.

These are the biggies, the simplest ways to make the biggest difference to your personal environmental footprint, as well as contributing to the global sustainability effort.

Picking even one of these actions to focus on each week is a great way to start.

1. Make Your Voice Heard

It would be nice to believe that governments and businesses would always keep the planet’s best interests in mind when they make decisions. But sometimes that’s not the case.

In reality it often takes a ground swell of public opinion to push for progress. And the only way to exert that pressure is to make your voice heard.

Vote regularly, talk to friends and family, write to your government representatives, ask businesses to do more, protest peacefully, share your opinions via social media, write blogs, make videos. Whatever medium is easiest for you to express yourself.

I have a whole post on ways to speak up, check that out here!

2. Vote with Your Wallet

Ever since the industrial revolution it has been more profitable to take advantage of the environment than it has been to protect it.

But you can help change that. By only giving your business to companies that trade sustainably, you are helping create a circular economy that rewards environmental responsibility!

Money makes the world go round, and as cynical as it might sound, financial incentives are the best way to encourage businesses to behave responsibly.

Here are some things to look for in a company before you buy from them:

  • They have a clear environmental policy
  • They use recyclable, reusable materials
  • They comply with labour laws in their factories
  • They use local materials and minimize transport emissions
  • They offer repairs or repairable products
  • They are carbon neutral or offset their impact in some way
  • They use minimal or recyclable packaging

Sites like Good On You are great for finding sustainable fashion brands.

3. Save Energy at Home

When we talk about energy emissions and fossil fuels, most people’s first thoughts will be of smoke billowing from the tops of factories or fumes pouring out of their car exhausts, but the one that people often overlook is the impact of their energy consumption at home.

Residential energy consumption is the second largest source of energy use in Ireland annually, second only to transportation. And residential emissions are responsible for almost 11% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The biggest culprit here is the energy used to heat our homes. Now, I’m not advocating for anyone to let themselves freeze, but moderating your heating use is a good way to reduce your impact.

Feeling a little chilly? Throw on another layer before you crank up the heat. Too hot? Open a window instead of relying solely on aircon.

Other tips include switching off lights, appliances and devices when not in use and using those devices efficiently.

For more info hop over to my energy saving tips post.  

Note: Some people have this idea that electricity is automatically “cleaner” than oil or gas fuels, which is not true. In fact, roughly 65% of Ireland’s electricity is generated using fossil fuels.

4. Cut Down on Plastic

Ireland has the highest rate of plastic production per person in the EU, so clearly there is a huge amount of work to be done here.

Some of the changes that are needed will require government crackdowns on single use plastics in particular, but until then we can all do our bit by reducing the amount of plastic we use individually.

Avoiding excessive packaging while you shop and using reusable bags and containers are simple ways to cut down on your plastic consumption.  

See my Zero Waste List for a bunch of plastic free tips.

5. Travel Responsibly

Transport is the number one source of energy consumption in Ireland, making up over 40% of our usage. And it is also responsible for roughly 16% of global emissions.

In Ireland 40% of transport energy is from private car use, with 20% from air travel and a further 20% from HGV and LGV (Heavy and Light Goods Vehicles). Public Transport makes up just 3%.

Personal transport is where we can all make a difference. That means driving less, and only flying when absolutely necessary. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that we can get by without constantly being on the go.

Changing up your daily commute can be a great way to lower your transport consumption and emissions. Walking, cycling, carpooling or using public transport are all great commuting alternatives.

My Transport and Travel post goes into more detail on ways to reduce your impact.

6. Eat Less Meat and Dairy

The production of animal products for food is a well-known culprit for a host of environmental problems, including greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and pollution.

The global emissions percentage for animal agriculture is difficult to pin down, with estimates ranging from 5% all the way up to 50%.

In Ireland agriculture accounts for 35% of emissions, with roughly 80% of that number being directly related to the production of animal products.

Add that approximately 39% of habitable land on earth is used either to raise animals or grow their feed, and you start to see the scale of the problem.

What we eat has a huge impact. And while vegan and vegetarian diets might be too extreme for some, reducing the number of animal products in your diet is definitely doable.

 More Eco-Friendly Food tips here.

7. Make Do With Less

A big part of the sustainable puzzle is reducing your consumption. And while there’s no need to live like a monk, this is definitely an area where you can make a major difference.

Overconsumption leads to huge waste, increased emissions, widespread pollution and has a hand in pretty much every kind of environmental problem we face.

Try to limit the number of new products you buy. Ask yourself if you’re buying because you need it or just because you can.

Secondhand shopping, a bit of DIY, growing your own food, and repairing or upcycling products you already own are all good ways to reduce the need for new purchases.

Plus, when you learn to make do with less you have more time and money for more worthwhile things.

Head over to my post on Sustainable Shopping and Online Shopping for more ideas.

8. Volunteer and Donate

If you don’t have the time to sit down and think about any of the above yourself, maybe it makes more sense to set aside one or two hours a week to volunteer with, or donate to, an organisation that has done the thinking for you.

Environmental groups have already done the research and they will know what needs doing. Lending a hand to their cause is a great way to make a difference if you don’t have the knowledge or the time to figure it all out for yourself.

Volunteering opportunities might include litter picking, tree planting, conservation efforts, educating the public and many more.

See I-VOL for Irish volunteering opportunities and IEN for a list of Irish environmental companies.

If you have any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact us by email at info@thegreenerview.com

Or leave a comment down below!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. zef klinkenbergh

    Hi Dan. Great website and great ideas. When the “penny drops” for people as to how serious the biodiversity and climate crisis are they will need ideas of how to change to a more sustainable lifestyle and will want to know what they can do to address some of the damage already done. You could add a ninth thing to do for sustainability. The environment is all about habitats. They are the building blocks of ecosystems and all organisms rely on good habitat to find food, shelter, and a mate. But habitats wether green space in cities or native woodland and hedgerows are being destroyed and fragmented and biodiversity is in serious decline. So how can we help? There are just so many ways and things we can do. It’s easy. The All Ireland Action Plan for Pollinators is a great starting point and has a great set of resources for householders, schools, communities and farmers, to help them enahance and improve whatever habitat they have for the benefit of wildlife. You can sign up join the action plan and pledge what you intend to do, Like creating wildflower areas, reducing your mowing and strimming regimes as well as reducing the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, planting pollinator-friendly trees, leaving verges to flower and set seed, making bird and bat boxes or hedgehog houses and insect hotels. I am showcasing a lot of these ideas at Lough Dan Scout centre so that our guests can see how easy it is and we have the “how-to” info for the most popular DIY ideas on our web resource eco.loughdan.com
    I must get you to come down and have a look around
    Keep up the great work. Cheers Zef

    1. Daniel Hunt

      Hi Zef! Thanks for taking a look at the site, really appreciate the feedback.
      And thanks a mil for all the info on habitats. You’re right, it’s a great additional point that I hadn’t thought of!
      Love the idea of showcasing easy ways to get involved at Lough Dan, reading about this stuff is great but if you can show people that’s even better.
      Would love to come down and see what you’ve been up to at some stage over the summer.
      Cheers, Dan

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