Top 10 Actions To 

Save The Planet

It's not easy to work out which actions we as individuals should focus on as humanity makes it's way along the path to a more sustainable future. The more we can do, the better, so in theory, we should focus on everything.

In reality, we all have competing factors in our lives that stop us from doing "everything", so it's important for us to assess which actions are deserving of our time and which may have been blown out of proportion for what they achieve.

Is it worth us spending time finding paper straws?

Does it do much if I buy an electric car?

Let's find out.

Here's the top 10 easy actions for you to take today: -

Top 10 sustainable environment actions save earth

This is why Eating The Earth exists. Eating less meat is the ultimate solution that nobody talks about.

How did we get to this conclusion?

 

First, we must define what “saving the earth” actually is, then identify why the earth is in trouble. Once we have this, we can assess the individual solutions and attempt to rank them.

 

"Saving the earth", by our understanding, can be defined by the need to stop the destruction of the natural environment and the life that inhabits it. These areas can include rainforests, savannah, oceans, rivers, Arctic tundra or deserts, to name just a few. The life can be referring to wild animals, but also plant life and even ourselves. "Destruction" can be very literal or it can be degradation by pollution or other means, such as climate change(which is by far the biggest indirect factor to consider).

 

What are the main things causing environmental destruction?

- Climate change

- Direct destruction(such as deforestation)

- Pollution (such as plastic or harmful substances)

- Directly killing wildlife

 

Now we are ready to look at all the possible solutions, trying to find the ones with the most impact (Including ones that didn't make the top 10).

 

Things to consider are: -

- Perspective. The solutions should offer real long term affect, not just a sticking plaster. The time scale we are looking at is, 2030, 2050 and 2100, as typical years to consider what may transpire.

- The individual. We are not looking at large scale solutions that only work with governments or businesses actions. This is about what you can do, because we don't have time to wait for governments or businesses to act.

- We accept the multiplying effect of an individual action - 1 engine being turned on does little. 1 billion turning on an engine does a lot. We reject the notion that "My impact is so small it doesn't make a difference". Time has come to forget this excuse and do everything we can, even when others don't.

- Practicality. It has to be a reasonably achievable solution and additional credit given when it is easy to do.

- Impact level. Each solution has been assessed based on the size(geographical and time) of the impact and considering all of the main causes of environmental destruction.

Our assessment is broken down into the following: -

What action you as an individual can take to help save the world

Direct positive – for the environment

Indirect positive – for the environment

Practicality – for an individual to enact

Additional benefits – for the individual or humanity

Individual Impact Rating – a score out of 10 in comparison to the other solutions.

Note: We tried to amalgamate actions together where appropriate. Click on the underlined words for information about that action.

EAT LESS MEAT

Destroys environments globally and on a massive scale. Kills wildlife(to protect livestock and to eat(such as fish)). Pollutes land, rivers, oceans. Large contributor to climate change. Long lasting effects.

Direct positiveLess demand for meat will reduce: -

- one of your big 3 carbon emitting actions

- deforestation/clearing of natural areas

- fish stock depletion

- by-catch of endangered species

- fishing net pollution

- pollutants(excrement) to land, rivers and oceans

- water demand

Less demand for meat will allow: –

- climate change emission reduction through reforestation of released land

- re-naturing of land that will provide habitat for endangered wildlife

Indirect positive – Help stop the mass extinction of wildlife, reduce predator killing for livestock protection.

Practicality – Can be easy for an individual, but changing cultural norms takes time.

Additional benefits – Better health, less cruelty to animals, potential to reduce starvation.

9/10

Top 10 save planet action reduce food waste

REDUCE FOOD WASTE

Food waste is a massive problem(one third of all food produced is wasted), with up to 40% of that waste at the consumer and retail end and the remainder is in the production side.

Direct positive – Less waste means less production, so you get reduced greenhouse gases, less water use, less land used for production, less fish taken from the wild and less pollution. Less land used can allow for an increased scale of natural habitats and growth of trees to reduce climate change impact. If less meat is wasted, you get even more benefits.

Indirect positive – Reduces your carbon footprint. Less waste of transport fuel, packaging and all the energy in the production processes to make and sell the food.

Practicality – A lot of waste is from the businesses that produce the food, so it's difficult for you to make an impact there. However, consumers waste a lot too, so you can still make a big difference by being more aware of how you waste food, being more mindful of waste(sell by dates), and being accepting of "ugly" fruit and veg.

Additional benefits – You can save money. The economy would be more efficient. Donated unused food can help people who need it. As we already produce enough food for the whole planet, we could feasibly eliminate starvation.

8/10

REFRIGERANT DISPOSAL

The gases locked up inside fridges, air conditioning units, car radiators, etc, are likely the biggest climate change contributor in the world. Careful disposal is needed and new (already available) gases used for new units.

Direct positive – With proper disposal, incredibly harmful gases(many times worse than CO2) can be kept from leaking into the atmosphere.

Indirect positive – Less climate change in the future. Less pollution in the air.

Practicality – Mid-level. Governments need to legislate and businesses need to act. Individuals can help by being aware, then being careful to ensure the gases they own(in their fridge, car, AC unit, etc) is recycled properly.

Additional benefits – Peace of mind.

7/10

DRIVE LESS

If you drive regularly, it is likely one of your 3 big contributors to your carbon footprint.

Direct positive – If you walk, cycle or use public transport as much as possible, you can reduce your carbon footprint significantly(up to a third).

Indirect positive – Reduces climate change impact globally.

Practicality – If you live in an urban area, it's likely fairly easy. Difficult at times or in certain areas.

Additional benefits – It is healthy for you to walk or cycle and you remove the stress of traffic jams.

6/10

Top 10 save planet action solar panels

SWITCH TO GREEN ENERGY

Large contributor to climate change when electricity is sourced through a national grid. However, national grids in some countries are slowly transitioning to renewable energy.

Direct positiveReduces CO² emissions globally and up to a quarter of an average person’s emissions.

Indirect positive – Reduces climate change impact globally. Visible statement to encourage others.

PracticalityEasy to switch to a green energy supplier. If installing solar or other tech to your house, there are initial costs high, but it pays itself back quickly.

Additional benefits – If you can afford to install green tech in your house, it’s a good financial investment. A battery will allow you to escape any power cuts.

6/10

CONSUME LESS

Everything has a cost - energy, materials, transportation, etc. In the west, we consume so much that the impact cannot be ignored. Less products and quality, long-lasting products are required. A change in mindset is all that's needed.

Direct positive – Less energy (in the form of cloth, plastic, metal, food, paper, wood, etc) consumed, so less impact.

Indirect positive – Less climate inducing greenhouse gases, less mining and deforestation to produce products, less pollution and less waste.

Practicality – Easy. An individual just needs to think about the environmental cost of every action.

Additional benefits – You will save money and have better mental well-being by loosening your need for products.

6/10

Top 10 save planet action less electricity

REDUCE ELECTRIC/GAS USE

Large contributor to climate change when electricity is sourced through a national grid. However, national grids in some countries are slowly transitioning to renewable energy.

Direct positive – Reduces a person’s total individual carbon emissions, but probably by less than 5%(and you can only reduce what you use so much).

Indirect positive – Reduces climate change impact globally.

PracticalityEasy to an extent, up to a 50% reduction in electric use through LED lighting, efficient appliances, being mindful of turning down/off appliances, etc. Anything more is difficult.

Additional benefits – It will save you money.

5/10

Top 10 save planet action vote money

VOTE WITH YOUR MONEY

Big business is directly responsible for the destruction of the planet. If you withdraw support from individual companies, they will stop.

Direct positive – As with voting, your voice is small, but it can collect into something bigger. 

Indirect positive – Change your bank, your supermarket and clothes shopping choices, your pension fund, or anywhere you use your money and make a statement by choosing the best option for the environment. This will add up over time.

Practicality – Time consuming to research, but easy to enact.

Additional benefits – You contribute to changing society as a whole to a more sustainable and considerate commercial environment.

4/10

Top 10 save planet action reduce water

REDUCE WATER USE

As populations and industries grow, water is fast becoming a difficult resource to obtain and human needs often come before the needs of nature. Rivers and lakes dry up and wildlife die as a result.

Direct positive – Reduce the chance of nature being 'stripped' of it's life. Reduce your carbon emissions on your hot water usage.

Indirect positive – Allows wildlife to better survive.

Practicality – Easy to reduce, with a bit of knowledge. A lot of issues are from industry using too much water, which is difficult to actively address.

Additional benefits – You can save money on bills and work towards a more sustainable future for humans, where water is routinely scarce.

4/10

AVOID HAVING BIG PETS

More CO² will be emitted and more impact generated through the meat they eat. Less animals or smaller animals will reduce the impact.

Direct positive – You can reduce greenhouse gases directly emitted.

Indirect positive – Less meat consumed leads to less deforestation, less climate change, less pollution, etc.

Possible to 

Practicality – Very easy. If you can go without the need for a pet, do that. If you feel you really need one, go for a smaller option.

Additional benefits – You save money and don't have to clean up so much.

4/10

Top 10 save planet action less children

HAVE LESS CHILDREN

Population levels should top out around 2100, but the more people born, the bigger the load we put on the planet.

Direct positive – Less of everything. Less greenhouse gases, less water used, less fish eaten...

Indirect positive – Less deforestation, less climate change, less of all the other actions on this list.

This action doesn't stop the demand placed on the earth by the current population however.

Practicality – Most people feel the need to have children, so it will be difficult for a person to have no children at all. Having just one or perhaps two children(more would increase the population) should be easy.

Additional benefits – You save money, stress and time and can give more of those things to the children that you do have.

9/10

Top 10 save planet action talk protest

TALK, ENCOURAGE, PROTEST

Social change can only come around through the spread of ideas. Your actions are noticed, but by talking, encouraging and even protesting, you can supercharge what you know and boost the impact you have.

Direct positive – No direct impact.

Indirect positive – Massive indirect impact. We have seen throughout history massive cultural change which, whilst on the surface it seems public action is making the change, the real change happens around the dining table. Anything is possible, which can lead directly to a more environmentally aware planet.

Practicality – Costs you nothing but time and potentially awkward conversations(see this link on how to avoid the awkwardness), but with kindness and understanding (knowing it takes time for people to change), you can be part of a social chain that makes real change happen.

Additional benefitsTalking about environmental and climate issues helps to reinforce and cement your own understanding of the issues. You might learn something too.

8/10

VOTING

Inaction by governments has a global impact through inaction on climate change, not protecting environments and not acting on pollution.

Direct positive – Your vote can only help change your country, and your vote, whilst collectively it makes big changes, individually it is 1 in millions. Has long term impact.

Indirect positive – Even if your environmentally aware candidate doesn’t win, the higher their numbers, the higher the perceived importance of environmental issues. This will lead to the winning party taking note and improving their own policies.

Practicality – Very easy.

Additional benefits – If a candidate or party cares about the environment, they will likely care more about you too.

7/10

Top 10 save planet action source sustainably

SOURCE SUSTAINABLY

Food, clothes, products, etc, all have an impact on the environment in some way. It's difficult to define 'sustainable', but if a product claims to be sustainable, it's a good place to start.

Direct positive – If a product is truly sustainable, it should largely eliminate the products impact through water use, environmental degradation, pollution and in any other ways.

Indirect positive – Will give a reprieve for fish to recover, will retain habitats, pollution free, for wildlife to remain undisturbed.

Practicality – It is rare and difficult to find products that are truly sustainable, so potential to do this action is very limited.

Additional benefits – The products and food are likely to be better for you in general.

6/10

REDUCE/ELIMINATE FLYING

A major contributor to your carbon footprint. A long haul flight emits more than an average person in a developing country emits in a whole year.

Direct positive – If you fly a lot, take ground based transport, enjoy your journey and you can reduce what could be your single biggest CO² emitting action.

Indirect positive – Reduce climate change impact globally and reduce air-born pollution.

Practicality – Difficult for long haul(you could consider a closer destination though), easy for short haul.

Additional benefits – You will enjoy the journey more and avoid those horrible airport queue's.

6/10

REDUCE YOUR PLASTIC USE

Pollutes most oceans and many rivers. Land pollution is minimal. Kills wildlife directly and indirectly. Difficult to clean up and long lasting.

Direct positive – Individual impact minimal in the western world as most avoids the ocean(3% of all plastic enters ocean, 95% of which is from Asia or Africa).

Indirect positive – We can lead by example and push technology toward alternative packaging.

Practicality – Some things easy, but they are the tip of the plastic iceberg. Governments need to regulate packaging and fishing(50% of pacific garbage patch fishing related).

Additional benefits – Plastic could indirectly contaminate your food, so your health can benefit.

5/10

GET AN ELECTRIC CAR

If you drive regularly, it's likely one of your big three carbon footprint items. Removing the directly emitted emissions may just be replaced by emissions from power stations. This can be eliminated by combining with a renewable energy source or reduced over time as countries transition.

Direct positive – You could eliminate up to a third of your carbon footprint.

Indirect positive – Reduce climate change impact for the whole world.

Practicality – It will soon reach price parity with a petrol engine, and is cheaper to run, so becomes a no-brainer if you need a new car. Be careful though - the emissions that go into creating a new car are significant, so research before changing. For those with "range anxiety" or who can't afford a new car or can't find a 2nd hand electric vehicle, perhaps next time you rent a car, try and get an electric one.

Additional benefits – Less air pollution, less noise pollution and lower costs in both running the car and maintenance.

5/10

Top 10 save planet action sustainabe palm oil

USE SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL

New palm oil plantations are created on the destruction of rainforests, particularly in South East Asia. This is destroying environments for Tigers, Rhino's and Orangutan's. It is a very efficient method of creating oil however, so sustainable production must be the future.

Direct positive – If the products you use have certified sustainable palm oil ingredients, there will not be unrestrained destruction of rainforest for this crop any longer.

Indirect positive – Habitats for wildlife will be preserved and climate change limited by leaving the trees in place.

Practicality – It is very difficult to even know if products include palm oil due to odd naming conventions and rare to find certified products, as a percentage, due to widespread use in many products and foods.

Additional benefits – You can send a message about the importance of the environment by choosing products that display their sustainable palm oil certification.

4/10

VOLUNTEER

Reversing the effects humans have on the earth is important. Volunteering(e.g. Beach clean up or tree planting) directly improves the environment. It is difficult to convince others to do the same and does not reduce the source of the problem.

Direct positive – Targeted instant improvement, but only on a small scale.

Indirect positive – Could encourage others to volunteer.

Practicality – Easy to do in most places. Many feel they don't have time, or they really don't have the inclination.

Additional benefits – It will likely improve your mental well being and give you an opportunity to meet like minded people.

4/10