3 Facts That Prove Individual Changes Make A Difference To The Planet If Yr Feeling Apathetic


Between the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, the Pete and Kim saga, and so much more, it’s been a weird year so far.

To add insult to injury, we’ve also faced a considerable number of catastrophic natural events — because, on top of everything, we’re currently living through the ugly repercussions of climate change.

If you’re not convinced, Australia’s Climate Council has put it quite bluntly — the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, including floods and droughts, earlier and longer bushfire seasons and sea level rise causing flooding, erosion and saltwater intrusion is proof that we’re currently copping the brunt of climate change. The WHO has also named climate change the number one current threat to public health. Yep.

I’m exhausted, you’re exhausted — so what are we going to do? It can be overwhelming to think about. However, there is a certain comfort and power in knowing that your individual choices can make a huge difference.

The average Australian has a carbon footprint of about 15 tonnes of CO2 per year. That’s a lot of carbon. If all of us can cut down on that just a little bit, the difference could be huge. Now, if you’re thinking, “What if I’m the only person who changes and no one else I know does,” that probably won’t be the case.

There’s scientific evidence that we have a significant influence on each other — more so than corporations or celebs. For example, this study from 2017 showed that around half of the respondents who knew someone who had given up flying because of climate change said they fly less because of this example, and around three-quarters said it changed their attitudes towards flying and climate change in some way.

If you’re fired up and ready to start making a change, here are a few statistics that’ll prove your actions will help the trajectory of the planet and, therefore, your life too.

According to one recent study out of the US, if every person cut their meat consumption by 25%, it would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 1%.

To put it into perspective, the US creates 5,222 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Just 1% of that is about 522.2 metric tonnes. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of tonnes.

We’re not saying you have to go vegan, or even vegetarian, or put a label on what you do! It’s just about being mindful for that 25% of the time — swap the steak at the pub for the pumpkin gnocchi or falafel wrap, you know the drill. You could also start joining in on Meat Free Mondays too if that tickles your fancy.

This Spanish study showed that each person created two tonnes of carbon a year through their diets alone. Our diets have a huge impact, don’t underestimate it.

Recycling just one plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.

Plastic, we can’t live with it, and can’t live without it — amirite folks? According to the WWF, Aussies use an average of 130kg of plastic yearly, and less than 12% of that gets recycled. Huge yikes.

While ensuring you recycle your goods properly is essential, being mindful of the plastic products you buy is important too. Luckily for us, brands like Colgate are making it easier to purchase everyday products that can be recycled — like their new toothpaste tubes that can now be recycled kerbside instead of going to landfill. They developed the product after finding that over a billion toothpaste tubes were thrown out in the US annually — which is a bit of interesting food for thought.

They developed the tech as historically toothpaste tubes are not recyclable due to the combination of materials — many different plastics, often an aluminium layer and that makes them not easily separated and therefore not easily recyclable, and over 50 million tubes annually are thrown out annually in Australia.

Switching a 30km commute from a car ride to public transport can reduce CO2 emissions by 9kgs per day, and over 20,000 kgs in a year.

Given most of us learnt in primary school how shocking petrol was for the hole in the ozone, this one shouldn’t come as a surprise. 30kms isn’t too far either — it’s about the length of my commute to the office from Parramatta to Surry Hills, which is a 30-minute train ride.

We’re also aware that using public transport daily for commuting isn’t accessible to everyone, so making the swap elsewhere (like when you go out on the weekend or run errands locally) could be ideal for leaving the car at home.

Hopefully, you feel a little calmer (and in control) about how you can make tiny changes in your everyday life that add up in the long wrong. Recycling (and buying products that can be recycled) is a huge step in the right direction in fighting climate change and the degradation of our planet in general — it helps reduce emissions, reduce landfill and, of course, helps us become less dependent on finite resources.

Not to be cliched, but it is like training for a marathon — it’s about the little, consistent steps you take every day that contributes to the bigger picture. The important thing is to not take your eyes off the prize (which, in this case, is a happy and healthy planet) and not get too hard on yourself when things get tricky.