The Clean Earth Trust is challenging all of us to lower our impact on the environment by making a sustainable switch every day throughout September.
You can start your journey at any point throughout the month. The challenges vary in complexity with gold, silver and bronze progress stickers to collect along the way, and although they are numbered 1-30, they can be done in any order.
We're in! Are you?
Here is the challenge list below:
Go meat free for a day, a week or the whole month. Mass industrial meat and dairy farming has detrimental effects on our environment. Despite producing 65% of all agricultural greenhouse gases and being the world’s biggest cause of deforestation, only 17% of global caloric consumption comes from these sources. It’s not only an inefficient way to eat but the practices and pesticides used for animal farming are destroying habitats, resulting in rapid loss of biodiversity.
Track car usage and see which journey's could be replaced by walking, car pooling or cycling. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted from motor vehicles is one of the major contributors to global warming, trapping heat in the atmosphere and impacting respiratory health. Globally, transport accounts for around a quarter of all CO2 emissions.
Transform and upcycle waste into new innovative items. The waste hierarchy (dispose, recover, recycle, reuse, repair, repurpose, reduce, avoid) gives us a framework within which to aspire and support the transition away from a linear, to circular economy. When it’s not possible to avoid waste when making a purchase, there lies a great opportunity for innovation! However, transforming trash into treasure does require some creativity.
Replace single-use plastics with a more sustainable alternative. It’s a message that still needs pushing. Single-use plastics continue to be in heavy circulation, supporting our growing consumerist and convenience nature. Prevention starts with mitigating production. However, despite their apparent stress on infrastructure, and more concerningly our ecosystem, very few governments have put legislation in place to stop or reduce their use.
Pick up litter - go for a plog, do a beach clean, record your findings. When talking about litter, there’s lots of different “sources” but ultimately it comes solely from us and our land-based behaviour / activities. Individual items are dropped (littering), quantities are dumped (fly tipping) or loose waste arises as a result of infrastructure failing - weather blows through an overfilled bin, a bin bag breaks, etc.
Reuse or upcycle plastic bags and food wrapping. Increased plastic production has transformed many of our industries, but it’s also led to a throw-away culture that’s overwhelming our environment. Single-use plastics account for nearly half of the 381 million tonnes of plastic produced every year, and as they take years, even centuries, to break down, they continue to release toxic chemicals harmful to both wildlife and humans.
Borrow books, toys, bicycles, etc. instead of buying new. Overconsumption is a global challenge, one that, by now, is systematically entrenched as the norm. Every year people purchase millions of tonnes of unnecessary clothing, electronics, and food products, much of which is wasted or forgotten about. This insatiable consumer appetite is having a devastating impact on our environment, leading to rapid deforestation, habitat loss, pollution, and, of course, climate change.
Reduce paper use by printing less and taking your note taking digital. Each day the world uses 65 billion sheets of paper, with 300 million tonnes produced yearly. To facilitate this, 4.1 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year. Paper production also uses enormous amounts of energy and water. While recycling goes some way to mitigating these effects, reducing paper waste is the best solution.
Buy from a local producer or retailer rather than online. Shopping locally has significantly less impact on our environment compared to shopping online or at large retailers. Locally-bought products are often fresher, require less packaging, and haven’t travelled as far as their online counterparts, which means we can reduce food waste, plastic packing and carbon emissions simply by supporting local businesses.
Switch your movie nights to documentary nights. An important part of transitioning to a more sustainable way of life is learning more about individual, community and global impact. Whilst uncovering the reality behind the climate crisis may be uncomfortable, and at times worrying, rather than indulging in a(nother) Netflix series marathon, why not use some down time to learn more about our challenges, and more crucially, the solutions.
Reduce the time, temperature and flow of water during showers. Although the Earth is often called the blue planet, out of all the water on the planet there is less than 1% accessible fresh water for us to use. This is a finite supply, yet we use 70% more today than we did 40 years ago. Shortening your shower by just one minute can save up to 17 liters of water.
Switch to using refillable household items like cleaning products, oils, soap, etc. More than one million plastic bottles are sold every minute worldwide. Switching to refillable products is a simple way to keep some of these plastic bottles out of our environment. Refillables not only reduce the volume of plastic packaging, they’re cheaper to buy and have a lower carbon footprint.
Organic food presents numerous benefits, especially if you are concerned about the environment and your health. With the focus on improving the health of the soil and its fertility, organic practices look to the long-term. Organic farming also encourages wildlife, biodiversity and the work of natural predators – all important for restoring vital ecosystems. Eating organic produce helps to reduce your exposure to antibiotics, synthetic pesticides and hormones.
Non-organic pesticides and herbicides are toxic chemicals designed to kill a certain pest, but a very large percentage of these pesticides reach a destination other than their target. These toxic chemicals will then get into the air, soil and water.
Replace one or more of your journeys by car with the bus. It’s easy to hop in your car for a quick trip to the shops or to meet your friend for coffee but these short journeys add up and can have a big impact on the planet. Buses are one of the lowest carbon-emitting modes of transport - using the bus instead of driving emits a little over half the greenhouse gasses of a single occupancy car journey.
Make your packed lunches plastic free. With life as busy as it is, it’s often tempting to grab a quick sandwich or snack, but this ‘lunch-on-the-go’ habit generates nearly 11 billion items of packaging waste a year - and that’s just in Britain! Much of this is mixed plastic, which isn’t recycled or recyclable.
Replace one or more of your car journeys with walking or cycling. Transport is the fastest growing source of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions, the largest contributor to climate change, and one of the main sources of air pollution. While improved technology and electric vehicles go some way to reducing the impact, nothing beats cycling or walking when it comes to environmentally-friendly modes of transport. Active travel also has added health benefits!
Reach out to a local business about making their operations more sustainable. To ensure the sustainability of the planet, individuals, corporations, and governments need to commit to becoming more environmentally aware. On an individual level, it’s important to speak out where we can to help raise awareness. Reach out to a local business, or your place of work, about something you feel could be done better environmentally and/or socially with one of its products or practices.
Trap microfibres when washing clothes. Microfibres are small particles of plastic that shed from our clothing. They are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment, so they end up in our waterways and oceans, and ultimately our ecosystem. These tiny plastic fibres have been found in the snow cap peaks of Mount Everest and the depths of the Mariana Trench – we have polluted the entire planet!
Turn unused garden space and window boxes into pollinator patches. Three quarters of the crops we grow benefit from animal pollination with birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. However, pollinators are dying at worrying rates with over 20,000 species of bee facing extinction.
Local botanist Francis Russell explains why Guernsey bees need us to step up, and tells us why we need bees just as much as they need us - if not more! - in 10 Simple Things To Do to Help Bees In Guernsey
Mend or repair something that is broken rather than replacing it with new. Before binning a ripped t-shirt or faulty hairdryer, consider repairing instead. Approximately 92million tonnes of textiles and more than 50million tonnes of electronic waste end up in landfills every year. Not only that, but the production of new produces more carbon emissions and drains natural resources - manufacturing a single pair of denim jeans produces roughly 30kg of CO2!
Switch to natural home cleaning and washing products. Petrochemical based detergents and bleaches end up back in our waterways where many of the chemicals they contain stick around and upset the balance of the eco system.Some may not break down at all, entering the food chain by being eaten by aquatic creatures, then us.
Before buying new, look for pre-owned options first via sites like ebay, Thrift+ and many more or local facebook trading groups. Some brands also sell reconditioned or pre-owned items.
Hang laundry to dry instead of tumble drying. Tumble drying, although convenient, can be incredibly wasteful. A household running a non-heat pump condenser 200 times a year could save nearly half a tonne of CO2 by drying clothes naturally. Using a tumble dryer isn’t just bad for the environment, it also reduces the lifespan of your clothing, deploying more of those microfibres!
Understand how your money is being used by your bank and pension provider and transition to green finance alternatives. Support divestment from fossil fuel and unsustainable business by moving your pensions and savings to a provider with strong ESG / SRI credentials or, uses your funds to invest in community development, give-back donation programmes or projects with an eco-friendly objective. Alternatively, or in addition, write to your current provider, sharing your environmental concerns and explaining why you want to leave.
Buy clothing made responsibly and sustainably from natural fibres. The most sustainable items of clothing you can wear are the ones you already own. But when it comes to making a new purchase, by choosing consciously you can vote with every pound you spend, supporting ethical and sustainable brands.
Audit online habits and reduce your digital carbon footprint. Going digital has had many positives, however little attention has been given to the negative environmental footprint of the digital economy. The production, use, disposale and data transfer of digital devices causes more carbon emissions than one might expect.
Choose foods that are from Guernsey, Jersey or the UK. These days supermarket shelves are consistently stocked with a variety of products, sourced from all over the world and while most of the carbon produced by food stems from the production phase, the distance your food travels also forms part of its carbon footprint. Buying local, seasonal products can help greatly reduce this impact.
Write to the States Committee about an environmental topic that concerns you. Campaigns at a community level are known to get better results. Therefore, creating a healthy, sustainable future for our island needs everyone to voice their environmental concerns to the States Committee. Local Deputies welcome clear and practical suggestions, ideas and solutions which can be employed locally to support the island’s development.
Choosing Fairtrade supports The Foundation’s campaign to build a fairer, greener and more sustainable future for producers who supply many of our everyday foods such as tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate.
Share your journey with The Clean Earth Trust community on social media using #maketheswitchgsy