A week of sustainability challenges for COP26

We’ve been thinking about the simple changes we can make to live a more sustainable, climate-friendly lifestyle and challenging the team to take part.

The eyes of the world are on the UK this month as the COP26 climate conference is currently taking place in Glasgow. 

A global problem requires a global solution, hence why international agreements, networks, and partnerships are so important in tackling the climate crisis. 

But, this isn’t to say that individuals don’t have a part to play too. We’ve been thinking about some of the simple changes we can make to live a more sustainable and climate-friendly lifestyle. 

We’ve come up with a list of challenges that we’ll be asking our team to take on between  8 - 12 November. We’ll be sharing how we get on and exchanging tips and tricks that will hopefully enable us to turn these into long-term habits. 

Challenges

Go plant-based

It’s widely accepted that adopting a plant-based or plant-lead diet is one of the best things you can do to reduce your environmental impact. By plant-based, we mean one that doesn’t include animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. 

The global meat and animal product industry undeniably has a range of negative consequences for the environment — increased greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, biodiversity loss, water consumption, and soil degradation. 

A 2020 report from IDTechEx found that the meat industry is unsustainable — despite using 77% of agricultural land, only 17% of global calorie consumption comes from animals. 

For those that have the luxury of choice in terms of what they consume day-to-day, cutting down your consumption of animal products is one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Challenge

Depending on your current diet, this will be more or less difficult to implement.. 

  • Option 1: If animal-derived products are currently a feature of most of your meals, try doing a full-day without them. 
  • Option 2: If you’re already vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarian, or somewhere in between, try doing the full working week on a vegan diet. 

Product swap 

A photo of some oranges in a reusable fabric shopping bag

Challenge

See if you can swap out 3 single-use products that you rely on day-to-day for more sustainable or reusable alternatives. Here are some suggested swaps: 

  • Washable makeup remover pads
  • Reusable fabric face masks 
  • Purchase a reusable coffee cup 
  • Fabric shopping bags 
  • Silicone or beeswax lids/wraps for storing food
  • Bamboo toothbrush 
  • Eco-friendly cleaning tools  

Take 3 for the sea 

A photo of some plastic waste washed up on the beach

With our headquarters in Brighton, we’re all too aware of the effects of plastic pollution for our oceans and waterways. An estimated 8 million tonnes per year of plastic ends up in the sea. 

The “take 3 for the sea” initiative is a global movement that aims to raise awareness of the damage caused by plastic pollution by encouraging everyone who visits the coast — or any other waterways — to do their bit by collecting rubbish and taking it away with them. 

Challenge: 

  • When you next head out for a beach stroll, collect 3 pieces of rubbish and take them away with you to dispose of properly. 

    Making this a long-term habit and speaking to others and what you’re doing will help raise awareness. Use the #take3forthesea hashtag on Instagram to spread the word. 

Upcycle or repurpose

Through upcycling or repurposing items that you no longer want, you can have a big impact on reducing your carbon footprint and stop items ending up in landfill unnecessarily. 

Challenge

Repurpose, upcycle, or give a new lease of life to a no-longer-needed item that you own. 

  • Repurpose old glass jars into macrame hanging planters
  • Revamp an old piece of furniture 
  • Alter old clothes into a new style or repurpose into a new item 

Turn down the thermostat

 It is estimated that 19% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from warming up the places we live and work.

Swapping your heating for an extra jumper and pair of socks whilst you're working from home this week will have a big impact — both for the environment, and your energy bills.  

Challenge

  • Do 3 days ‘heating free this week

Go car-free 

A photo of bike handlebars as someone cycles down the road toward the sunset

Instead of driving to the gym, the supermarket or to work this week, try walking or cycling. 

Transportation is now the most polluting sector in the UK, producing the equivalent of 122 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2019. This represented roughly 27 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions that year.

For those that are able to, swapping short car journeys that could otherwise be undertaken in other ways — whether on foot, bike, e-scooter, skateboard — has a big input on your personal carbon footprint. 

Challenge

  • Swap 2 return trips that you’d have usually taken by car for walking or cycling. 

Do a plastic-free food shop 

In the UK, the average household throws away at least 40kg of plastic each year. Nationwide, we use a staggering 7.7 billion plastic bottles per year alone. 

We all need to be taking steps to drastically reduce our personal contribution to the plastic waste crisis and seek out more sustainable packaged groceries and essentials. 

Challenge

  • Complete a plastic-free grocery shop!

    This could be through limiting yourself to only products that are sold loose or packaged in fully-recyclable packaging such as tins and cardboard, or visiting a shop where you can take your own refillable containers. 

Some local shops that offer this in Brighton and Hove include: 

Eat seasonal and local 

A photo of some seasonal winter fruit and vegetables

By eating food that is in season and locally sourced, you can reduce your environmental impact through less need for transportation — whether by air, sea or road.

Some fruit and veg that are currently in season in the UK are Apples, Beetroot, Butternut Squash, Courgette, Kale, Pears, Peas, Pumpkin, Red Cabbage, Spring Onions and Wild Mushrooms. 

Check out this useful breakdown of which fruit and veg are in season when in the UK.

Challenge: 

  • Cook 3 meals from scratch this week using only locally sourced or in-season produce.