There’s an old African proverb that goes something like this: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you’ve never spent the night with a mosquito.”
It’s the thinking behind World Environment Day’s latest initiative, 7billiondreams. Make small incremental changes to your lifestyle – cycling to work, going vegetarian for a week, using tap instead of bottled water – and multiply that effort 7 billion times, once for every man woman and child on the planet. It’s called consuming with care, and when we heard about it we jumped on board right away.
Intrepid has always done things a little differently when it comes to travel. Right from the start we said we wanted to be a responsible business, to leave the world in a better state than we found it and give back to the communities visited on our travels. To that end we offset all the carbon emissions from our trips and offices. We signed up to the UN Global Compact, which means our policies and practices align with UN guidelines on things like environmental protection and animal welfare. We also set up our own not-for-profit, The Intrepid Foundation, to support grassroots community projects around the world.
It’s been predicted that if we keep consuming at our current rate, by 2050 we’ll need three planets to sustain us. But there are still things each of us can do to give our planet, the only one we’ve got, a hand. They’re not big or earthshattering or dramatic, but their effects can be. Here are a few ways you can consume with care.
Go vegetarian once a week
It’s no secret anymore, eating animals is isn’t particularly good for the environment. Livestock by-products and their transport account for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Meat production and grazing now covers over 45% of the earth’s total land, and it takes about 20 times less land to feed someone on a vegetarian diet. Going meatless for just one day every week can make a massive difference. Over a year you’ll cut your carbon emissions by about as much as not driving your car for a month.
Rethink bottled water
Bottled water is between 300 and 2000 times more expensive than tap water. It’s such a ludicrously large discrepancy you have to wonder why anyone buys it at all. Most of the tap water in the developed world is fine to drink, but we persist in drinking the bottled kind, even though the amount of water taken to make one bottle is three times the volume within it. Switch to a re-useable canteen or drink bottle. Your water will stay cooler, and you’ll be making a world of difference.
Bike to work
When you cycle to work, instead of driving, you’re saving the atmosphere about 250g of carbon per kilometre. That may not sound like much, but when you think that energy trapped by man-made global warming is now equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days a year, it suddenly seems very worthwhile.
Cut down on waste
It’s been estimated that, in the western world at least, we waste about 1/5 of the produce we purchase. That’s like heading to the supermarket, buying four bags, then dropping one in the bin on the way home. It sounds crazy, but a huge proportion of what humanity raises and grows each day is just not being eaten. Cut down on waste by only buying what you need, recycling scraps in compost or a worm farm and freezing leftovers. Every meal counts.
Shop with a green bag
The biggest man-made thing in the world isn’t the Great Wall or the Suez Canal or anything like that. It’s an enormous mound of garbage in the Pacific Ocean. It’s about double the size of Texas, and a lot of it is made up of plastic bags. Shopping with a green bag can seem like an annoyance, an afterthought, a small token gesture, but if everyone on the planet turned their backs on plastic tomorrow, we’d live in a very different world.
Make your pledge and register your commitment at World Environment Day’s page here.