9 practical things you can do to save the planet in 2017

Shutterstock / monticello

The UK's weirdly balmy winter isn't doing much to allay concerns that the climate is warming as a worryingly rapid rate.

It's easy to feel helpless, but there are things everyone can do. Here are some suggestions (in case you're looking for a New Year's resolution or two):

1. Recycle

This might be obvious, but recycling as much as you can is one of the best things you can do to help the environment. In the UK, household recycling rates have been increasing every year, apart from in 2015, when there was a one percentage point drop. So now, more than ever, it's important to get into the habit of recycling.

2. Reuse plastic

The less plastic you throw away, the better. Try drinking from a reusable bottle instead of buying water bottles every day, and reusing plastic bags. Since the 5p charge on plastic bags, there were six billion fewer bags taken home from shops in England alone by 30 July this year.

3. Eat less meat

The meat industry has a massive carbon footprint. Eating meat contributes to the loss of trees, which are cut down to rear animals, and it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, compared to only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. Rearing animals for food generates a massive amount of raw waste, and is the number one source of water pollution.

If you want to do your bit for the environment, try to reduce the amount of meat in your diet. Alternatively, try to have one day a week without meat.

4. Car share

Cutting down on emissions is a big help to the environment. Try sharing your commute with colleagues, or switching to public transport or riding a bike. If there really is no way around it, consider trading your car in for a hybrid.

5. Shower

Opting for a shower instead of a bath is one of the best ways to cut down on the amount of water you use, as well as turning the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth.

6. Be politically aware

A country’s involvement in the global fight to reduce carbon emissions is dependent on its politicians. Sadly, some prioritise the cause more than others – so make sure you’re clued up on the more climate-friendly politicians and parties before the next election. 

7. Get involved

Taking political education one step further, there are many ways you can get involved in climate change activism. A quick online search of what’s going on in your local area will show you what you can get involved in, whether it’s litter picking, volunteering for an environmental charity or helping to raise awareness.

8. Cut down on food waste

We throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink from homes every year in the UK. If we just stopped wasting the food that’s still edible, the impact on the environment would be the equivalent of taking a quarter of cars off the road.

As well as being mindful of how much food we buy, the food we do waste can be turned into compost.

9. Eat and buy locally

Eating and buying food that’s been produced closer to home is another small step to helping the environment, as you’re supporting local farmers who don’t pollute the environment shipping goods over long distances. They also tend to use less packaging.

More: Climate change denier who says no one can explain global warming gets completely schooled by someone explaining it

More: Climate change scientists warns 'The fate of the planet hangs in the balance' with a Trump presidency

The Conversation (0)