New Year’s Revolution

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The revolution has begun.

In the Paralympic closing ceremony, shock-value fashion pioneer Dame Vivienne Westwood chose the moment to kick-start her newest campaign in front of millions. Unfurling a giant black and white banner, Westwood broadcasted her latest crusade: challenging people worldwide to start treating their planet responsibly. Thus, the Climate Revolution began.

“Climate change” is a term overused and often misunderstood – and all too easily passed off as “that Al Gore mumbo-jumbo”. Westwood, however, has based her campaign on the scientific research of the New Economics Foundation, as well as work from the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr R.K. Pachauri. The NEF have suggested that we may have as little as 100 months from August 2008 to stabilise concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. After that, the risk of uncontrollable global warming occurring becomes unacceptably high. You only have to look at the wild weather of recent months – floods, storms… – to see the impact this is having.

When Westwood introduced the campaign at the closing ceremony, we were 50 months into this deadline, and her team’s goal is to encourage each of us to play our part in reducing the percentage of greenhouse gases produced by humans, as well as taking measures to become more generally environmentally friendly.

Photo from climaterevolution.org.uk

Climate Revolution is not demanding we all overhaul our lives completely; far from it, we are encouraged to make small, easy changes that, combined, will make a huge difference. Of course, those who wish to make a stand can do just that, but any change, big or small, shows realist awareness and an adult responsibility to look after the world around us. So what can we do?

The UK is one of the richest countries in the world. Each of us exercises great power every time we buy: who we buy from, where the products are sourced, who makes the products… and one of the simplest ways we can adapt our buying habits is to refuse to take plastic bags from shops. In 2011, the UK used eight billion plastic bags. That’s 254 every second. Packing your shopping into reusable bags cuts down on waste going into landfill and keeps our biodiversity safe. And when you do take plastic bags, collect them up and take them to Sainsbury’s Lancaster, where you will find a bag recycling point at the main entrance.

Sign the petition to encourage your local MP to support the Break the Bag Habit campaign at http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=21&ea.campaign.id=15739&ea.tracking.id=Lush

Figures show that our national habit of eating meat could also be a problem. The FAO estimates that the livestock industry is responsible for between 13.5 and 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are caused by the livestock industry, through chemicals used in the rearing process as well as manure. Obviously, Climate Revolution is not asking everyone to forgo meat. Far from it; the livestock trade is an integral part of the UK’s economy. However, Meat Free Mondays encourages one day of meals without meat per week, to help cut our national meat consumption (and it also helps to save on individual food costs, too!)

Find out more at http://www.meatfreemondays.com/

Buying from ethical companies might not seem to be high on a student’s agenda when money is tight, but many high street stores can provide you with affordable products that have been sourced ethically, whether that is using recycled packaging (or no packaging at all where possible) or buying fresh produce which reduces food air-miles. Here in Lancaster, we have access to the market every Wednesday and Saturday; make the most of it and both support local business and slash the carbon footprint of your fridge contents.

Find a comprehensive list of ethical stores at http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/

As you can see, there are plenty of small changes we can all make in our lives which, collectively, can reverse the rise in global temperatures and protect our planet for the future. Get the bus rather than driving. Turn your heating and lights off when you leave the house. Switch to green light bulbs. Donate to your local environmental charities.

They may seem like trivialities, but Climate Revolution represents everyone as whole. Alone, it feels like switching off that bathroom light makes no difference. Together, it makes the world of difference. Take notice, read up, and make a stand.

Learn more and sign up to the mailing list at http://climaterevolution.org.uk/

“One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.” – Henry David Thoreau

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