How you can help
What can I do?
There’s a lot you can do – it’s much better to have a larger number of people making some sustainable changes than just a few living a fully sustainable life.
To manage something you have to measure it, so the first step is figuring out where you can have the most impact in reducing greenhouse gases in your life. Working out your personal footprint is a good starting point!
Waste is often the first thing people focus on, however transport, food and housing contribute the majority of our households’ footprint. These “big three” are great areas to focus on.
Work out how you can make regular changes that work with your whānau (family) - a change needs to be able to be maintained to have the greatest impact.
Changing your mode of transport is the biggest climate change impact you can have. There has been a 100% increase in New Zealand’s transport emissions during the last 30 years, despite big increases in vehicle upkeep, registration costs, traffic congestion, parking issues and petrol prices.
Changes you can make:
- Car pool or use the bus to create less emissions per person per journey.
- Use active transport (e.g. walking, biking or scootering) for a zero emission journey.
- Planes emit more CO₂ than cars doing the same journey - holiday locally and consider buying carbon offsets, which is a way of donating money towards projects that reduce carbon emissions in other parts of the world.
What we eat has a big impact on our health and the planet. Health experts say reducing meat intake can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Beef produces the most greenhouse gases of any food group - eight times more than chicken, 12 times more than eggs and 25 times more than tofu.
Food waste also contributes to climate change when it’s buried in landfills. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world!
Changes you can make to improve your health, save money, and help the planet:
- Try a meat free recipe once per week
- Bulk up mince dishes with beans or lentils
- Freeze perishables instead of letting them go to waste
- Shop in your fridge and pantry before hitting the supermarket
Housing is the third biggest chunk of your carbon footprint. This is not just how your home is powered, but also how it is heated or cooled.
Getting rid of damp air, stopping draughts and using the sun’s warmth to heat your home saves money in heating. Meanwhile, insulating your home will help keep it warm in winter and cool in summer.
Easy energy saving options:
- Open all doors and windows for 15 minutes each morning to get rid of damp air
- Don’t dry washing inside
- Place bubble wrap on windows to form double glazing
- Attach sheets to the back of curtains to double line them and make sure they touch the ground
- Make draught stoppers out of old clothing/linen
- When buying a new appliance look at the energy required to run it
You can have a positive impact by choosing what products you buy – or not. Since the 1990s there has been an explosion of cheaply made, low quality goods available to buy. This is dominated by fashion, which is the third largest polluting industry in the world, producing 10% of global GHG emissions.
Changes you can make:
- Commit to wearing all clothes you own before buying more
- Don’t buy new. Shop in the second hand stores to prolong the life of goods
- Consider sharing expensive items with whānau or friends, like lawnmowers, power tools, cars and toys
- Buy locally made or grown and let your money support your community
Growing your own produce is another way to reduce your carbon footprint.
The average Rotorua household throws out about half a tonne of organic waste (food scraps and garden waste) per year which rots in landfill, producing methane. Composting reduces those landfill emissions and gives the nutrients back to the land, increasing your food security, reducing food miles, waste emissions and reliance on commercial composts and fertilisers.
Changes you can make:
- Start a worm farm, compost bin, or bokashi compost bin. This will reduce your smelly rubbish bin contents and the compost can be used to improve your land.
- Save money and improve food security by growing your own produce.
- Create connections with friends, whānau and your community to develop a produce exchange system
- Plant shrubs and trees on your property to provide habitats for birds and insects, create shade during hot weather, and reduce soil erosion during heavy rainfall.
We tend to think, do, and talk about what people around us are thinking, doing, and talking about.
When talking about climate change it helps to relate it back to how people can save money, improve health, and increase their security (like energy or food security) by doing things that reduce their footprint.
What you can do:
- One of the most fundamental ways to make your voice heard is to exercise your right to vote, especially with the climate in mind.
- Walk the talk - be a sustainability role model.
- Personal conversations matter if you have friends or family who are unaware about climate issues.