The first step towards understanding climate change is climate education – but how can you ensure that you’re getting the right information? Y’earn is here to help.
National treasure David Attenborough’s documentary about understanding climate change, A Life On Our Planet, was a wake-up call for many of us. Despite the fact that we have all been learning about climate change for years, there is no denying that we are now part of a climate emergency.
The facts are stark:
- Plastic waste is a big problem. A 300 million tonne problem, in fact. That’s how much we produce every year – nearly the weight of every single person on this planet combined. Most of this waste ends up in our oceans.
- There is 50% less wildlife in the world now than there was when David Attenborough was born 95 years ago. Oh yes, and during that time, the Earth’s temperature has changed more than it did for the previous 10,000 years.
- Time is running out. Scientists believe we may have already reached several tipping points, after which the climate of the Earth may well shift dramatically. All of us have seen enough extreme weather in the past few years to know that this is true.
So far, so bleak. As our understanding of climate change has developed, so too has our understanding that something needs to be done. For too long, we were under informed. While we lacked knowledge, we still had a big impact on the environment. We didn’t think much about our individual impact on climate change. Think about it. Most of us drove petrol-guzzling cars, took a couple of cheap flights, we invested in fast fashion, we became complacent about the use of chemical fertilisers on our food and ordered everything online rather than walking to a local store.
Even when we started understanding climate change and the need for things to change, it was often a case of too little, too late. The first major collective effort was recycling our waste. Then we stopped using plastic bags. Then plastic straws came under fire. Of course, each of these elements contribute to climate change – but it’s just not enough. It feels as though our knowledge is always one step behind reality. Unless we’re actively trying to find the information ourselves, it can seem that the information we get doesn’t allow us to focus on what is going to have the most impact. This can contribute to us wanting to bury our heads in the sand, in a fear of ‘can’t do right for doing wrong’.
We’re on our way to sharing an up-to-date guide to Sustainable parenting, packed with practical, realistic steps that you can take to help fight the climate emergency right now. Because yes, it is an enormous task. It can be overwhelming at times. But small changes from each of us do have the power to make a difference. Join our newsletter and get a copy of the ebook as soon as it’s ready and some helpful blogs along the way. In the meantime, here are some simple ideas to get you started.
What are the kids learning?
Education is a critical part of understanding climate change. Let’s face it, our children may well be dealing with the fallout of the climate emergency in years to come. It stands to reason, therefore, that they should be properly educated on this crucial topic. Unfortunately, 75% of teachers currently feel that they haven’t had adequate training to really educate students about climate change. That’s why we are such huge fans of Teach the Future. It’s an amazing campaign started by secondary school students in 2019, demanding better climate change education in schools. You can get involved by donating money, signing petitions or volunteering your time.
Education can happen at home too. Blog posts like this one and this one feature lots of advice about how you can talk with your children about the climate emergency, without frightening them but rather building their understanding of climate change. It’s going to be a part of their reality – they have to know. That’s why we’re currently working on a series of short downloadable workbooks that are an informative and fun way for children to learn about climate change and living sustainably. (Without sounding like a broken record, we suggest you sign up to our newsletter and you’ll be notified when they’re available).
Use your political voice
We are enormously privileged to live in a democratic country where everyone has the right to vote. Whatever your politics are, consider whether your party is putting climate action at the top of their agenda. They should be. Some policies might not really cut it if the planet is on fire.
There are also a number of petitions which you can sign. Once a petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the government is obliged to debate it in parliament. This one focuses on introducing charges on carbon emissions, while this one from WWF asks the government to commit to zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. We can’t all be Greta Thunberg, but a little bit of activism can go a long way.
Get involved with climate change organisations
If you have some time to spare, why not get involved by volunteering with some climate change charities and campaigns? It can help educate others and build their understanding of the of climate change crisis! Greenpeace has lots of ways to do your bit, including working at festivals and lobbying MPs. If you are London based, check out this page for lots of ideas for sustainable volunteering.
There are so many wonderful organisations who are working hard to address the climate emergency. A small monthly donation can make a world of difference to them, if you have the cash to spare.
Review your daily habits
One of our biggest issues is that we all consume too much. We buy things we don’t need which will, at some point, end up in landfill or be left to collect dust. Break the cycle by renting or swapping instead. Take school uniform, for example. As your kids grow out of their uniform, have a look into uniform exchange and second-hand purchases. We’ve got more tips on that here.
When you do need to buy something, do you need to buy it brand-new? Second-hand and recycled shops are everywhere and the selection is often fantastic. If you haven’t got time to go shopping in person, have a look at the Oxfam online shop. A great selection and a chance to support Oxfam’s great work? Yes please.
The biggest contributor to CO2 emissions in the UK is transport and in 2017 it constituted 28% of the UK’s total CO2 output. Within that, domestic transport is the largest offender, accounting for 15% of the total UK transport emissions. Many people are now choosing to cycle to school and work, and considering that 38% of journeys in Britain are under 2 miles and only take around 10 minutes to cycle, it seems like an achievable switch.
Switching to a green energy supplier can be a great way to cut carbon in your daily life – and your spending too. And if you’re travelling, consider making your holiday eco-friendly. Another way to have an individual impact on climate change. If you’re interested in making more changes to live sustainably be sure to check out our post focusing on the ways you can do just that, minus all the green guilt!
Put your money where your mouth is
When shopping, shop sustainable. Support the brands who are doing their bit for the world, whether through the food in the supermarket or the food on your restaurant table. And look out for eco labels which will help you to see the impact of your consumption. You have spending power – use it wisely! We also recognise it can be difficult to spot what’s bad for the environment, that’s why we’ve dedicated another post focusing solely on that!
One of the greatest ways we can help keep the planet from warming is by reducing or eliminating investments in non-renewable fuels and stopping the burning of fossil fuels which currently amounts to 44% of the world’s carbon emissions. According the the fossil fuel finance report, 33 global banks have financed fossil fuels worth a staggering £1.4 trillion since 2015.
Perhaps the most powerful way in which we can take action as individuals is by switching to an ethical bank which doesn’t invest in fossil fuels. The UK’s big 5 (Barclays, HSBC, RBS/Natwest, Lloyds & Santander) have a history of supporting fossil fuels. So, if you’re based in the UK, you can check this rating table to find out how your bank ranks on the ethical scale and see if you can make the change to a more ethical bank who don’t invest in fossil fuels! Check what your current bank is doing to support climate action and reduce the demand for fossil fuels. Ethical Consumer also have a helpful guide to ethical banking. And if you do need to make a change the SwitchIt website is a useful place to start researching options.
If you have a pension, consider getting advice on how to switch your pension investments to funds with clear ESG investment objectives. This means selecting funds based on their environmental, social and governance impacts. It’s best to discuss any changes with a financial advisor or investment expert first.
Give Mother Nature a hand
Nature is all around us, and there are ways that you can make a difference. Even though their sting means a lot of us are scared of them, we need bees and their pollinating ways to survive. If you have a garden, you can do your part in encouraging bees to pay a visit by choosing the right flowers to plant and avoiding the use of pesticides. You can even help out a tired bee by leaving them a simple sugar solution to drink.
If you don’t have a garden, you can still help the bees by buying local honey and supporting local organic farms. There are plenty of UK charities dedicated to saving the bees. We like the British Beekeepers Association and, if you have the means, a donation to them can make all the difference.
We are happy to help, even beyond understanding climate change!
Making small changes (where you can) is something Y’earn is passionate about. That’s why we are so delighted that our rental marketplace makes it easier for parents to make eco-friendly choices. Whether you want to rent rather than buy, or give your items a second life, we make it simple.
We also love sharing resources and tips for sustainability through this blog, including things such as the best eco-friendly days out with kids and even how to design a sustainable bedroom for your child! After all, parenting is a full-time job and if we can do our bit to do the research so that you don’t have to, that’s just fantastic. If you’ve got any tips you’d like to share with other parents why not guest write a blog for us? Otherwise just let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to cover in the comments below!
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If this is your first visit, hello, let us introduce ourselves. We’re Y’earn and we exist to create more love, less landfill. Pretty lofty, right? Well, not really, it’s actually pretty simple. Our aim is to make renting as common as owning so we live more sustainably while helping the community around us.
Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people in your community or make some cash if you have items you don’t need right now. We’re a sustainable business that plants 🌲, adopts 🐝 and donates to children’s charities. We’re helping each other and the planet, one rental at a time.
You can read more about how Y’earn works here.
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