Climate change: what can you do?

By John Lewis

When it comes to climate change solutions, Shepparton people are just like everybody else - they see talk as largely a waste of time. They just want to do something.

People often ask: What should be my personal response? What should I do?

Members of Shepparton-based environmental advocacy group Slap Tomorrow have compiled a list of things individuals can do to offset the impact of climate change.

Group president John Pettigrew acknowledges climate change is a massive and complex problem which can't be solved by individuals alone.

But he believes if everyone made some small contribution, such as suggested below, the impact of climate change could be significantly lessened.

1. Use less energy

- Buy energy-efficient appliances.

- Turn off appliances when not in use.

- Turn the lights off when you leave a room.

- Switch off  televisions, computers and video game consoles and unplug completely if they light up or use energy even when powered down.

- Unplug fully charged devices such as mobile phones, tablets and other cordless devices, as these use small amounts of energy even when they're not charging.

- Plug items you use regularly into a power strip, so you can switch them all off at once.

- Run your dishwasher only when it's full.

- Set your washing machine to the correct water level for each load and generally wash in cold water or warm. Wash full loads, air dry clothes whenever possible, use the moisture sensor setting on clothes dryers and clean lint filters after use.

- Set refrigerators and freezers to the correct temperature.

- Laptop computers use less energy than desktops. Skip the screen savers and set monitor to sleep mode or switch off when not in use.

- Place heated towel rails on timers.

- Change TV settings to turn on auto brightness control, and select standard picture settings. Don’t use game consoles to stream films; use low-power streaming devices.

- Turn thermostat down for heating and up for cooling by one or two degrees.

2. Reduce water waste

- Swap shower heads for more efficient ones.

- Attach aerators to taps.

- Take shorter showers, turn tap off while cleaning teeth.

- Water gardens in the early morning or evening.  Plant a water-wise garden.

- Install rainwater tanks.

3. Shopping

- Buy less.

- Buy durable instead of disposable.

- Borrow, rent or share items rarely used.
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- Buy local.

- Choose goods with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

- Look for products with high star ratings.

- Mend items.

- Buy second-hand goods.

- Recycle old electronics, batteries, mobile phones, paper, metal, plastics.

- Use recycled products.

- Compost kitchen and garden waste.

4. Food

 - Plan your weekly menu, buy only what you need.

-  Cut back on red meat consumption.

- Eat locally grown and in-season as much as possible.

- Eat fresh and unprocessed.

- Take your own shopping bags.

- Avoid unnecessary packaging and produce bags.

- Avoid disposable coffee cups, take your own.

- Avoid bottled water; fill your own bottle from the tap.

- Say no to disposable straws, cutlery, plates etc.

5. Transport

- Walk or ride a bike.

- Drive less, drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, keep tyres correctly inflated, don’t carry around unnecessary luggage, drive smoothly, car share.

- Use public transport.

- Only fly when necessary, and go economy, not business.

6. Housing

- For new homes, make use of energy-efficient designs, double glazing, north-south orientation, sustainable building materials and furnishings, solar panels, water tanks to flush toilets, water-wise toilets and taps, floor, wall and roof insulation, energy-efficient heating, cooling and hot water systems.

- For established homes, seal drafts, weather-strip leaky windows and doors.

- Adequately insulate your home, use curtains to keep heat in and out.

- When replacing a hot water heater, choose the most efficient.

- Use recycled products.

- Install water tanks.

- Install solar panels and battery storage.

7.Communicating /Education  

- Learn as much as you can about the causes and implications of  climate change.

- Read, listen. Take an inquisitive interest in new technology, world news and politics.

- Don’t be afraid to challenge those who perpetrate myths about climate change.

8. Civic activities/responsibilities

- Stand for local office. Get yourself elected to council.                                 

- Join local climate change movements.

- Engage with your family and friends, and workmates.                                   

- Phone or write to your local politicians.