Reduce your impact
Why does it matter?
It is unreasonable to expect consumers to shoulder responsibility for climate change. It is also unrealistic to imagine that individual lifestyle changes alone will make any meaningful difference to our global climate crisis. Nevertheless, our planet’s finite resources are fast running out and the affluent West has already consumed much more than its fair share. Simply put: we must reduce our impact by cutting our consumption of Earth’s energy and resources.
There are all kinds of ways to reduce your impact. These include upgrading the energy efficiency of your home and limiting the use of heating, cooling, and power; reducing your air and car travel; avoiding fast fashion, and repairing rather than replacing consumer goods wherever possible. Making these kinds of changes will probably feel like you’re having to give things up, compromise your comfort or lower your living standards. But it’s nothing compared with the changes that will come as our planet continues to warm.
So which lifestyle changes are most important to make? Industrialised agriculture comes in at number 2 on the list of highest carbon emitting industries, outdone only by fossil-fuelled energy production. As an industry, its combined impacts produce more emissions than the entire global transport industry (which comes in at number 3). Industrialised agriculture is also the chief cause of wildlife extinction through habitat loss.
Adopting a locally produced, organic, plant based diet has been identified as the most significant positive difference that individuals can make in response to our climate crisis. It is also one of the most contentious, drawing responses that range from apathy to anger to outraged indignation Why is that?
Food is one of our most basic needs. Accepting the need to radically alter how we eat means acknowledging just how bad things are. It means facing the need to fundamentally change our lives in order to survive. All of which trigger our deep fears. In many cultures, food is also the centre of family life and it often has symbolic significance, too. In this sense, what we eat is a representation of who we are. So when we are told ‘You need to start making different food choices,’ what many of us hear is ‘How you’re eating tells me you’re a bad person.’ Because of this, calls for dietary change can also trigger feelings of guilt and shame.
When thinking or talking about all the possible ways to reduce your impact, notice if you feel any resistance arise. Allow yourself to feel it. Ask yourself where it comes from. And then consider the possibility again.