With the recent IPCC report stating that climate change is “widespread, rapid and intensifying” it can be difficult to see how our individual actions can positively impact such a global issue. But they can, and here’s how:
Walk/cycle where possible
The average car produces approximately 4.6tonnes CO2 per year – reducing our driving will therefore reduce the carbon foot-print of our commute.
Moreover, studies have shown that exercise benefits mental health, aids sleep, improves circulation, strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure, tones muscles and aids maintenance of a healthy BMI – good for our planet and our health!
Reduce Food Waste
Food systems account for 30% CO2 emissions across the EU and food waste occurs at each stage of the supply chain – it is estimated that around 1/3 food is wasted. Wasted food rots emitting methane which, according to the UN, has a 100-year global warming potential 25times that of CO2. The Irish Government has committed to halving food waste by 2030, but there are simple steps we can take to play our part:
- make a shopping list,
- do not overbuy,
- get creative with leftovers,
- use your compost bin.
With the annual cost to the average Irish household around €700 in uneaten food, reducing food waste is good for our planet and our wallet.
Buy Locally and in Season
Where possible, buy in-season food from local producers. In-season foods have higher nutritional content as they are consumed at the peak of freshness.
Reducing the journey our food takes from farm to fork reduces the carbon foot-print of our diet.
Eat more vegetables
It is estimated that 14% of the total greenhouse gas emissions can be attributable to agriculture and that deforestation contributes a further 18%. The IPCC estimates that if populations in developed countries adopt a more plant-based diet, several million km2 of land could be freed up by 2050 and global CO2 emissions reduced by up to eight billion tonnes/year.
Here in Ireland, we do not eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables – 3.9 portions compared with the recommended 7 servings per day. Vegetables are great sources of fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Green leafy vegetables are particularly beneficial as they are great sources of vitamin C, iron, folic acid and the B-vitamins.
If you are considering a more plant-based diet, please be mindful to include foods which will support your body’s nutritional requirements (e.g. legumes, beans and pulses are great sources of protein if you decide to reduce your meat intake).