What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Bishop149 » Mon, 12. Aug 19, 15:11

red assassin wrote:
Sun, 11. Aug 19, 11:36
Unless you're Jeff Bezos, individual action is effectively meaningless.
This, sadly is largely true but listed in order of effectiveness here is probably the top three things your average individual could do.

1) Don't eat meat.
2) Don't drive a car.
3) Don't fly.

1) is trivial but nonetheless many people (including myself) are not willing to make that sacrifice, I do however try to cut it back.
2) is easy if you happen to live in a city with a well developed public transport system (as I do), but is admittedly tricky otherwise.
3) has less of an impact that you might think so don't feel too bad about it . . . just don't fly often. Flying for one holiday a year probably isn't gonna break the planet.

I also get my electricity from these people: https://www.ecotricity.co.uk so I hope I don't have to feel too guilty about that aspect, I'd prefer them to have some nuclear in their mix though. . . wind and solar aren't quite as environmentally friendly as they're cracked up to be.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Chips » Mon, 12. Aug 19, 18:42

So many possibilities, but to keep it one per post :D


Think a fairly good one is to only boil water you need for drinks. Boiling 2 litres when you only want to use 200ml is, unsurprisingly, going to use a huge amount more energy - and it could save you up to £60 a year if you boil it 8 times a day (same applies to showers, have warm instead of hot - it makes a big difference).

Of course the biggest impact you could have is die (and don't have children). Zero emissions... but that's the "comedy" (note the quotes) option for biggest impact ;) However, saying it doesn't matter what we do - of course it does. Individuals may have little impact, but the cumulative impact of individuals can be significant. If everyone changes their practices then... it really can make a difference.

One thing is for sure, nothing will change if we don't "make it so" (as some baldy once said) - and as Registerme's thread is all about - suggestions as to the simplest things that have no discernible negative impact on your life can contribute.

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by red assassin » Mon, 12. Aug 19, 22:02

Chips wrote:
Mon, 12. Aug 19, 18:42
However, saying it doesn't matter what we do - of course it does. Individuals may have little impact, but the cumulative impact of individuals can be significant. If everyone changes their practices then... it really can make a difference.
If everyone was willing to change their practices we wouldn't have this problem in the first place. The problem with individual action is that it's too late. We don't need to talk a few extra people into taking a few baby steps towards more sustainability, we need enforced changes at a governmental and corporate level and we need them now, and that's just to mitigate the worst of the damage. The problem with talking about individual action is that we get a nice fuzzy feeling of doing something and it's so utterly insignificant compared to the magnitude of the problem. You feel like it's going to be okay and it isn't. You want to help? Sign up for Extinction Rebellion.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by RegisterMe » Mon, 12. Aug 19, 22:27

I don't dismiss the scale of the problem, but I am sure there are things we could all do, at no, or minimal cost, that, if replicated globally, would have a positive and material impact.

As an example, my dear old lady neighbour used hot water for decades to swizz down her cutlery before putting it in the dishwasher. It was only last year she realised she could do it just as well with cold.

Now times that by, I don't know, a billion?
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by RegisterMe » Mon, 12. Aug 19, 22:50

**** WARNING - very crude assumptions, very crude maths - WARNING ****

Let's assume that there are 1 billion dishwashers globally.
Let's assume that they are run, on average, once per week.
Let's assume that 25% of people swizz their cutlery down first before putting them in the dishwasher.
Let's assume that each such "swizz" uses a litre of water.
Let's assume that 50% of the people who do this use hot water.

That's 125 million litres of water being heated unnecessarily, a week.

Let's assume that the average temperature of "cold" tap water is 13 degrees Celsius.
Let's assume that the average temperature of "hot" tap water is 55 degrees Celsius.
Let's accept that it takes 4,200 Joules to raise one kg of water by 1 degree Celsius.

That's 176,400 Joules to raise one kg of water by 42 degrees (the assumed difference between cold and hot tap water).

That's 22,050,000,000,000 joules a week.

Or 1,146,600,000,000,000 joules a year.

Let's assume that one barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) equals 6,120,000,000 joules (found on some random website).

That equates to 187,353 BOE / year being used to heat water unnecessarily to swizz down plates, unnecessarily, before putting them in the dishwasher.

Now, to Red Assassin's point, that's a drop in the (oil) ocean, but it's still nearly two hundred thousand barrels of oil (equivalent) that we could either not be doing anything with, or doing something more productive with.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by red assassin » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 00:08

World oil consumption is a hundred million barrels per day. You're talking about one hundred thousandth of the world's oil consumption from an intervention that requires you to alter the behaviour of a hundred million people, and you can't identify those hundred million a priori so you probably need to get the whole billion to listen. And none of that is easy. Even for something utterly trivial, people are resistant to change for all manner of reasons, and very many of the options require at least some inconvenience.

The problem is not that individual changes can't make a measurable difference aggregated across a lot of people, the problem is that you need to convince so many people to make so many behaviour changes to add up to anything even close to enough to make anything marginally less terrible and there's no time. Major near-term political changes are the only thing which could make a difference.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by RegisterMe » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 00:29

I've no argument better than surely doing something is a better option than doing nothing :(.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by red assassin » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 00:58

Doing something is absolutely better than doing nothing, but the problem with this sort of tiny behaviour change is that it feels like doing something but realistically is doing nothing, which contributes to the society-level complacency that means nothing changes.

Vote. Write to your representatives. Donate. Join Extinction Rebellion. Talk to everyone you know and convince them to do all that too. Hope something changes, but be realistic about your chances of success. That's all I've got.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Chips » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 01:00

red assassin wrote:
Tue, 13. Aug 19, 00:08
World oil consumption is a hundred million barrels per day. You're talking about one hundred thousandth of the world's oil consumption from an intervention that requires you to alter the behaviour of a hundred million people, and you can't identify those hundred million a priori so you probably need to get the whole billion to listen. And none of that is easy. Even for something utterly trivial, people are resistant to change for all manner of reasons, and very many of the options require at least some inconvenience.

The problem is not that individual changes can't make a measurable difference aggregated across a lot of people, the problem is that you need to convince so many people to make so many behaviour changes to add up to anything even close to enough to make anything marginally less terrible and there's no time. Major near-term political changes are the only thing which could make a difference.
and yet somehow women got the vote :o :o It took a while and didn't start with the Governments of the world going "you know what..." though

Call me optimistic? Governments are driven (in democracies) by the voters wants and desires else they don't get voted in... so if/when the voters all eventually line up and say "hey, this needs changing", something happens. For that to happen, you need to try and get them on board, for that to happen, you need to give them the information and encouragement. You may think it's too late - that's your prerogative. But leave the rest to at least try eh? :)

Three years ago this wasn't even a discussion point for most of the population - but now it's big news and people are doing things about it. Companies are being asked about it, pushed towards change. True, some initiatives (plastic bags cost 5p) are a great success, but it doesn't all need to be government led. Go back 20 years and not a single person had a thought about it. Things are changing - the sad fact is that some are fighting back and trying to prevent it. Which beggars belief.

As for climate change in general, if it wasn't for some of these companies fighting so hard against it any lobbying I've no doubt we could have had more done.
Last edited by Chips on Tue, 13. Aug 19, 01:10, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by RegisterMe » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 01:09

The whole point of this thread is easy things you do, that somebody else may not be doing. You learn, you tell your friends / family / neighbours / colleagues / whatever, and then they tell theirs.

It might not halt climate change in its tracks, it might achieve nothing material, and it might, as Red Assassin implies, actually do harm, because we sit on our arses thinking to ourselves "aren't we great, why aren't they doing anything" whilst what we need is a massive step-change in pretty much everything.

But them's the risks. You pay's your nickel and you take's your chance.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by red assassin » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 01:44

Chips wrote:
Tue, 13. Aug 19, 01:00
and yet somehow women got the vote :o :o It took a while and didn't start with the Governments of the world going "you know what..." though

Call me optimistic? Governments are driven (in democracies) by the voters wants and desires else they don't get voted in... so if/when the voters all eventually line up and say "hey, this needs changing", something happens. For that to happen, you need to try and get them on board, for that to happen, you need to give them the information and encouragement. You may think it's too late - that's your prerogative. But leave the rest to at least try eh? :)

Three years ago this wasn't even a discussion point for most of the population - but now it's big news and people are doing things about it. Companies are being asked about it, pushed towards change. True, some initiatives (plastic bags cost 5p) are a great success, but it doesn't all need to be government led. Go back 20 years and not a single person had a thought about it. Things are changing - the sad fact is that some are fighting back and trying to prevent it. Which beggars belief.

As for climate change in general, if it wasn't for some of these companies fighting so hard against it any lobbying I've no doubt we could have had more done.
This is an argument for literally the same thing I've suggested several times in this thread now: using whatever time, money, or other resources you're prepared to commit to achieve political change via whatever means possible, not on whatever infinitesimal reductions to your environmental footprint you can achieve on your own. This thread is about simple things you can do and I don't really think "get arrested" is exactly what OP had in mind for that, hence my initial suggestions of voting and donating, but if you want to have a disproportionate impact, movements like Extinction Rebellion and climate strikes are the best option.

You give women's suffrage as an analogy: nobody got the vote by developing a political opinion at home, keeping it to themselves, and feeling self-congratulatory about the whole thing, but that's the closest thing I can think of to minor personal lifestyle changes (again, unless you're Jeff Bezos et al and can stop sailing your superyacht around).

The other problem with suffrage as an example is that significant chunks of the world don't have democracy, never mind women's suffrage, and even in places that do, it took decades for anything to change; the suffragettes took 25 years to gain equal voting rights with men in the UK. We don't have that kind of time and we need commitment worldwide. Ultimately: Yes, you're wildly optimistic. I have complete respect for people who really understand the scale of the problem and sign up to fight for a change anyway. I understand people who don't sign up for that; in the end I'm tired and you don't see me out with Extinction Rebellion either. But I think advocating for minor lifestyle changes is at best seriously naive, and at worst actively playing into the hands of groups who want to preserve the status quo, by reinforcing the idea that we have time and that this is a problem random citizens can solve and diverting effort and attention away from things that stand a tiny chance of actually working.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by RegisterMe » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 03:03

I'd vote for you.

In the meantime I will do what I can, learn what I can, and spread that learning as far and as wide as I can.

But the truth of your message breaks my heart. Of all the 100 billion stars in this galaxy, of all the 100 billion stars in the hundred billion galaxies we can see in the observable universe....

This single planet is the only one we know of that supports life.

Is it even possible to underline that point enough?

And we're ****** it up. We're not just ****** it up, we're ****** IT UP. Deliberately.

As smart as we are, that we could do this, behave so ignorantly and contemptuously, is mind blowing.

@mods no problem if you want to slap me upside the head for breaking forum rules about language use etc, I've done so, I deserve it. But damn we need to get a grip on this.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by dreamer2008 » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 08:38

I stopped eating meat of any kind. Its been about 4 years now and I am happy with my decision.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by red assassin » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 10:50

RegisterMe wrote:
Tue, 13. Aug 19, 03:03
I'd vote for you.

In the meantime I will do what I can, learn what I can, and spread that learning as far and as wide as I can.

But the truth of your message breaks my heart. Of all the 100 billion stars in this galaxy, of all the 100 billion stars in the hundred billion galaxies we can see in the observable universe....

This single planet is the only one we know of that supports life.

Is it even possible to underline that point enough?

And we're ****** it up. We're not just ****** it up, we're ****** IT UP. Deliberately.

As smart as we are, that we could do this, behave so ignorantly and contemptuously, is mind blowing.

@mods no problem if you want to slap me upside the head for breaking forum rules about language use etc, I've done so, I deserve it. But damn we need to get a grip on this.
Yep.

If it's any consolation, life will be fine. We won't, and most of the species we recognise won't. But life will be, and it'll even have a few billion years to re-evolve intelligent life, and maybe we'll leave enough of an archaeological record to stand as a warning.
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Re: What simple thing can you do to lessen your impact on the environment?

Post by Chips » Tue, 13. Aug 19, 13:24

red assassin wrote:
Tue, 13. Aug 19, 01:44
You give women's suffrage as an analogy: nobody got the vote by developing a political opinion at home, keeping it to themselves, and feeling self-congratulatory about the whole thing, but that's the closest thing I can think of to minor personal lifestyle changes (again, unless you're Jeff Bezos et al and can stop sailing your superyacht around).
Taking it literally too parallel. Perhaps choosing Fair Trade would have been better. The actions of a few gained traction - no Governments whatsoever involved. From there, companies and corporations got involved keen to bolster their corporate social responsibilities (but also slyly it ensured supply continuity and quality eventually too). Has it had an impact upon farmers and communities around the world? Demonstrably yes. But it was the actions of individuals that collectively resulted in a shift - and no Government law changes were required. If you waited for legislation, which funnily enough would almost certainly not happen due to it involving an entire supply chain across countries and continents, it'd have never happened. People do not need Governments to force changes, they can do it themselves - and sometimes more efficiently (no endless bureaucracy that pro-actively delays and holds things up - as i mentioned with lobbyists who have self interests in preventing action).

I am starting to get the impression you think I view this thread as the solution? No, that's crazy talk. But driving down energy usage (hence the kettle - boil what you need only) not only uses less energy, but saves people money as well. It's reasonable, practical, and ZERO EFFORT COST improvements that can be made. That's why I don't quite get your opposition to it. Unless you view such zero cost lifestyle improvements as "pointless effort" - at which point, why bother do anything. May as well wait for the Governments to decide (how on earth they do that if they don't believe it's voters desire to see it... :o ) what's necessary for us and legislate for it (again, good grief it takes decades if ever)... and then have to try and force people to adopt it with "the stick" method - as people won't want to take part unless it's made to cost.

Meanwhile, spreading awareness (without making people feel like they're being bludgeoned as per climate protesters trying to shut down a city centre) and showing people that you don't need to make sacrifices to be more responsible/considerate (and hoping this then translates into being more interested as well, wanting to see a change etc) can't be a bad thing. Hence, the thread... has a good purpose. But I don't imagine for one second anyone believes the solution is in the thread - except for perhaps you thinking that's what we think?

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