How do you feel about the news from the IPCC this week that we are to blame for the climate crisis and that our climate is changing as a result of human activity? I know how I feel.
I feel relieved.
Why? Because finally, maybe, our governments will begin to act on climate change. Maybe we’ll start to make some rapid moves towards a low carbon future and will begin to tackle the problems caused by pollution, plastics, carbon dioxide, consumption and greed.
The news has also served to strengthen our resolve here at 2 Minute HQ because we know that, however you look at it, plastic is climate change. At every stage in the life of a piece of plastic it emits climate gasses. Its extraction as oil, its production into plastic and its transportation emits huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, helping to fuel the climate crisis. And with the use of petrol, diesel and jet fuel lessening due to Covid, the oil industry is pushing more plastic on us than ever, citing, for example, that plastic has a lower carbon footprint than paper packaging. It doesn’t, when you consider the industry that’s behind each piece of plastic.
Global plastic production is expected to emit 56 billion tonnes of carbon between now and 2050.
Once it’s been used and discarded plastic continues to emit climate gases in the form of methane and ethylene, with polyethylene, the world’s most prolific plastic, emitting the most of these gasses out of all plastics. In sea water plastic also emits these gasses as it breaks down, so further threatening the health of our oceans. Never mind the fact that plastic attracts pollutants in seawater, kills seabirds, fish and sea mammals through ingestion, poisoning and entanglement in their hundreds of thousands each year. Oh yes, and it takes energy to recycle plastic too.
If you ever needed a new reason to reduce your plastic consumption, this news is it.
And that’s why, as always, we will continue to say that every #2minutebeachclean matters.
While we cannot forget that we have been failed by our governments, industrialists and the coal, oil and gas industry for many decades, we still need to roll up our sleeves and do all we can to reduce our own carbon footprints and persuade others to reduce theirs. We have been gaslit into believing that our own consumption, travel and lifestyles are OK and, actually, that’s not OK.
It’s time to vote with our feet and wallets.
When I said that I felt relieved, I meant that I felt some kind of reassurance that we haven’t been working for nothing. The 2 Minute Beach Clean was always about encouraging people to take the first easy steps towards living a life that’s kinder to the planet. I had a feeling that somehow dirty beaches were just the tip of the iceberg. Now we know. And now we know we can start to act, based on the fact that we have proven that small actions can add up to make a big difference. Now it’s time to apply those principles to other aspects of our lives. Properly, with purpose, and like there is no tomorrow. Because, if we don’t… well, you’ve already heard it before.
What can you do today to combat climate change?
There are so many things you can do, really. Each one might not seem like much, but, when you add them all up, it can make a difference. Here’s my top ten.
- Do not forget that governments and corporations also need to act and this list of things to do is not supposed to let them off the hook. Make your first mission be to boycott polluting companies and governments who don’t act. Use your vote and your wallet to save the planet.
- Don’t drink bottled water again. Everything about water as a commodity is wrong. It is 500 times more expensive than tap water, 92% of it has plastic in it and it emits climate gasses at every stage of its life. Even cans of water emit climate gasses in their production.
- Turn off the tap. The water industry, through filtering, pumping and treatment, emits about 1% of the UK greenhouse gases. Using less of it will save you money and help reduce your footprint and that of the industry. Shower, turn off the tap when you clean your teeth. Simple, easy things to do, right?
- Change your bank. Lots of banks use your money to invest in fossil fuels. The quickest way you, as a punter, can stop this is to stop supporting those who do. Don’t let them use your money to continue contributing to climate collapse. Try Co-Op, Tridos or Santander.
- Change your pension pot. Again, the people who invest your pension pot may not give two hoots about anything other than money. Changing your pot to an ethical fund will give them a clear message that you don’t approve of their odorous investments. If you have a Nest pension it takes about 5 minutes to change your pot to an ethical one (be aware that the return may not be as good, for now – but those are the choices we face. Planet or profit?).
- Eat local, seasonal and fresh veg. Food miles contribute hugely to global carbon emissions. Take a look at the origin of what you eat. The more local produce you buy, the better it is for the planet. Eating seasonal food also reduces the need for artificial growing conditions that require huge amounts of energy.
- Stop using so much plastic. The less you use, the lower your carbon footprint. Simple. All that stuff that we’ve been banging on about for ages has come home to roost. Lower your plastic consumption and lower your footprint.
- Stop eating so much fish and meat. The majority of plastic we find on the beach comes from fishing. It is an industry that has taken too much and destroys as it goes. If you must eat fish, eat local and sustainably caught fish or that which you catch yourself. Watch Seaspiracy. If you eat meat, eat meat that’s reared locally, on permanent pasture and that isn’t fed on soya or silage from ploughed fields.
- Travel more wisely. Think about how you travel and when you travel. Leave the car at home more often. Take the train. Write to your MP about ticket prices. Get your bike out of the shed and give it a spin. Walk a bit more. Work from home and resist going back to commuting. Enjoy your life instead of rushing about.
- Let nature into your life. Nature needs a hand because climate change is causing havoc with the natural world. 60% of insects are under threat of extinction, along with countless other mammals, reptiles, fish and birds. The more you give nature a hand the better. It’s easy and fun. Set up a bird feeder, let the lawn grow wild, stop using weed killer (it kills bees, hedgehogs, birds and invertebrates) and try to plant insect friendly plants.
FINALLY: what if climate change is a hoax?
It’s a good point. What if you…
- eat more healthily
- have a garden full of insects, birds and animals
- cycle a lot more
- walk in the countryside
- give up the car
- move your investments to more ethical pots
- stop buying products from greedy corporations
- support local businesses
- drink clean water from the tap
- get to see your children growing up in a healthy and clean planet
….AND IT’S ALL FOR NOTHING?
You get the point.
Good luck and thank you.
Founder of the #2minutebeachclean