(Co-authored with Kaska)
Recently, Jenny, Kaska, Jessie and I made the trip to Kirkcaldy for the ‘How can we communicate climate change to our communities’ event, organised by Fife Communities Climate Action Network and Greener Kirkcaldy. At the event we talked about many different reasons why climate change is still happening and kind of came to the conclusion that many of the problems came from difficulty of communicating effectively about climate change. Climate change has become an increasingly troubling issue but many people refuse to see it as a problem. As a young person I feel that my generation tends to block out the climate change message or disassociate ourselves from it. In this blog I share some reflections on the event and changes it has inspired me to make in my own life.
One thing which really struck me when I was doing some reading before the event is that climate change is already seriously affecting many places, including UK. This is something I didn’t realise. One recent example that really stuck with me is the fact that it was the increase in global temperature due to climate change that made this year’s hurricanes in North America more extreme and destructive.
I was quite apprehensive about going to the event itself. Like many other teenagers I didn’t really think that one person would be able to do anything to help lower the carbon footprint. But the experience has helped me realise that it can be as simple as changing what I eat!
At the event we took part in an activity where we had to look at photos of a weekly food shop of two families from different places in the world. They were a part of a Hungry Planet photography project by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio. In my group we had to compare a family of nine from Tingo, Peru with a family of four from North Carolina, America. The difference in food was quite frankly shocking. Unfortunately, the photos are under strict copyright and I cannot share them here but I will try to describe the differences for you.
The family from Tingo has fresh vegetables and fruit, alongside a pile of grains and rice. The food pile looks like it would be good portions for each meal but not an amount which would be easy to waste. There is no plastic packaging so any waste would easily decompose.
By comparison the American family’s food is a little horrifying. They easily have over 30 sugary drinks, junk food, processed or frozen food and ready-meals. It is more than likely that some of this vast amount of food would be wasted. In Western countries food waste significantly contributes to greenhouse emissions – in Scotland it accounts for as much as 3% of individual carbon footprint. In contrast to the Peruvian family, the picture also shows a large amount of meat which also produces lots of greenhouse emissions. They have very little fresh fruit or vegetables and it looks like most of the food would have travelled from afar, again contributing to its carbon footprint.
The workshop helped me realise that climate change is a serious and very real threat to the world, but it also inspired me to take some steps to reduce my own carbon footprint.
I am making it my goal to use more locally grown food and cook instead of buying frozen or processed food. I have already started by learning to cook and practicing by making different meals for our Monday ‘Caley’ Group at Tayport Community Garden and bringing homemade soup for my lunches throughout the week. To help minimise my own family’s waste, I will be freezing more of the leftover food and making use of our compost bin more regularly, and making sure that recycling is done properly too.
I am even considering cutting my meat consumption. I have been thinking about becoming a vegetarian for many years but I feel that as a very fussy eater I would struggle with such a restricted diet. Knowing the issues though, I will try to eat more vegetable-based dishes.
I also had an interesting experience having a go at communicating about climate change myself. I posted a picture from the event on Instagram. In it I was holding a sign ‘Shrink your carbon footprint’ and I tagged it #carbonfootprint in the hope that it would raise some interest in the topic amongst my friends. To my surprise the photo was liked a lot less than my usual, making me think that people really don’t want to hear about climate change. It was quite off-putting but I think I may keep trying to post more climate change messages throughout my social media in the future and hope some of it sticks.
I hope this blog inspires you to take your first steps towards reducing your own carbon footprint too.